It takes someone with a generous spirit, compassion and dedication, someone prepared to help other people become parents and change their lives forever. It can make all the difference in the world to intended parents just to know that there are wonderful women willing to try to help them.
Being a surrogate is a big commitment. There is a lot to think about and lots of emotion. You will need the support of your partner and family (particularly being sensitive to the understanding of any young children), and you will need clear information about the process and implications before you decide to go ahead.
There are different types of surrogacy and you could be:
At Brilliant Beginnings, we only match gestational/host surrogates but will happily signpost traditional surrogates to alternative organisations. We can help you to understand the implications of becoming a surrogate, and the options available, so that you can reach a decision about whether surrogacy is for you.
Helping someone you already know
You may want to help someone you already know - perhaps a friend, family member or work colleague. You will already know their personality and how well you get on, which is a great headstart. It is still important to talk carefully about your relationship and how the surrogacy will work logistically and on a day-to-day basis. If you are thinking of helping a friend or family member we may be able to help you with our surrogacy support service (which includes guidance on the issues to think about, the process and the law, and support from a professional mediator with putting an agreement in place).
Finding intending parents to help
There are three non profit-making organisations in the UK which support UK surrogates and intended parents (and some surrogates also find intended parents independently, for example through Facebook groups). Brilliant Beginnings launched in 2013 as the UK's first professionally-managed surrogacy agency, to add to the work already done by volunteer organisations COTS and Surrogacy UK. Through our work at leading surrogacy law firm NGA Law, our team already had many years of surrogacy experience: Brilliant Beginnings and NGA Law have now been involved in over 800 surrogacy journeys involving UK parents in the UK and abroad. We are a non-profit professionally-run surrogacy agency with a team whose work (and passion) is to give surrogates and intended parents the best possible support every step of the way.
It is worth exploring all your options before making a decision about what suits you best as a potential surrogate. This is an important, and very personal, decision.
Working out who you want to help
There are many different kinds of families who need the help of a surrogate: couples and single women who have had unsuccessful fertility treatment or whose family-building plans have been thwarted by cancer or other medical issues, women with MRKH who were born without a womb, same-sex couples and single dads who have always known they would need help. Some may have children already. Some may have met later in life. Some may have spoken to families and friends while others may have chosen to share their plans further down the line. They will all have different personalities, priorities and views on issues which might be important to your relationship and the surrogacy. Thinking about how these dynamics may influence your relationship with your intended parents, and also thinking through what impact this will have on your own family, is important.
Our role at Brilliant Beginnings is to help you find the right intended parents to work with, and to support you at every step. We take this very seriously and want to make sure that you are fully supported in every avenue of your life whilst you are a surrogate. Some of that support will come from us, but it will also come from the other professionals you will come into contact with and your friends and family.
We start by having a detailed discussion with you about your background and your wishes. We will take you through what the surrogacy process involves, answer your questions and make sure that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether this is right for you. We will meet with you, and your partner if you have one, via Skype or Facetime as well as face-to-face in your home.
All our surrogates are prepared, medically and psychologically, and we provide you with professional surrogacy preparation counselling (together with your partner if you have one) as well as independent legal advice. We help you understand the treatment that you will undergo as well as what happens once you are pregnant and ensuring that your hospital where you give birth understands the special circumstances of your delivery. You will have the opportunity to speak to one of our experienced surrogates about their journey and what to expect and then be a part of our BB surrogate community online as well as getting to know other surrogates going through their journey with you.
We will work with you to talk about all your concerns and questions, and to get to know you. Once you are ready, we match in a personalised way to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Our careful matching process is a key part of our service, and it takes into account, not just ensuring you are well matched with your intended parents on practicalities such as your views on termination and your expenses, but also much more.
Having got to know you (and the intended parents we work with) we suggest a one-to-one match. We share the profile information of intended parents with you who we think may be a good match for you. We will also prepare a profile for you which, with your agreement, we will share with potential intended parents we have in mind. If you both want to meet, we will facilitate a match meeting and give you support in getting to know each other and establishing a relationship based on mutual trust, respect and friendship for as long as is needed.
You will need to think through =what kind of relationship you want to have with your intended parents, and have an open and honest dialogue about what you expect for the conception, pregnancy and beyond. There are lots of issues for you to discuss and it is critical that you take the time to get to know your intended parents so that key issues are explored and any discrepancies are identified and considered. Our job is to guide, steady and support you. The law does not allow us, even as a non profit-making agency, to negotiate the specific terms of your surrogacy agreement, but we will give you guidance and information to help you work out the terms of your agreement and to put this in writing (with our team including professionally-qualified mediators).
Once your agreement is in place, we will support you all throughout the journey. This means help with the practicalities including the fertility treatment, giving practical advice on how to deal with doctors and hospitals and what to do at the birth registration and through the parental order. It also means we are there at every step to give encouragement, reassurance and support whenever needed, and continuing to facilitate the communication between you to help you deal with any issues that arise.
The team are all here to be with you, to cheer you on your way and to hold your hand when you need us. Being a surrogate is an amazing thing, and you don't need to navigate the process alone.