By Robin von Halle

Statistics show that at least one in five couples of reproductive age deal with some degree of infertility. In their quest to create families, an increasing number turn to Assisted Reproductive Technology, using donated eggs and, often, the services of a gestational surrogate.

Typically, intended parents enlist the services of an egg donation and surrogacy agency, which screens candidates and guides them through the process. It can be overwhelming and confusing – but being armed with information makes it easier. Some guidelines to help you on this path:

  1. Find the right agency. All agencies are not the same. Do your research. How long have they been in business? Is the agency reputable? Is the personal chemistry there? What resources do they employ to help you, like an experienced family law attorney? Get references. The intimacy of this process makes it mandatory to find an agency you’re comfortable with.
  2. Know what to expect. Your agency should explain the entire process, from fees to how they screen donors and surrogates to their policies. For example, if your egg donor cycle isn’t completed through no fault of yours, we’ll cover the rematching and related non-medical costs. Details like this are important to know in advance.
  3. Be ready to soul search. What traits are must-haves versus nice-to-haves in your egg donor? Does it matter to you if your surrogate works full-time? Lives close or far away? Are you unwavering about selective reduction or adamantly against it? Have you considered future issues, like whether to tell your child circumstances of his or her conception? These questions and more will come up; being prepared will ease the process.

A variety of resources are readily available to help you on your path. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (www.asrm.com), for example, has a wealth of information, from its guidelines on compensation to egg donors for their time to FAQs on a wide variety of fertility-related topics. (Many are also written in Spanish.)

This may be the most important journey of your life. Your due diligence now will remove the bumps from the road that leads to the ultimate reward – a healthy child to complete your family.

Robin von Halle is President of Alternative Reproductive Resources (www.arr1.com). It was the first egg donation agency in Chicago and the Midwest, and one of the first in the country. She can be reached at info@arr1.com.

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