By Robin von Halle and Mary Ellen McLaughlin

Once again, the media has picked up on the risks of do-it-yourself surrogacies.

We are referring to the New York Times article that focused on a Michigan couple trying to become parents through surrogacy. They found a surrogate online and worked with a fertility clinic that apparently completely skipped the process of psychological screening. In the end, the Michigan couple lost their babies to the surrogate after she sued for legal guardianship. All because the wife had a mental illness that was not disclosed during the process and no psychological screening was done on either party.

We cannot express enough how critical it is to consult with an agency that works with mental health professionals and lawyers who specialize in fertility counseling. This is extremely important in both surrogacy and egg donation.

Reputable agencies help couples, surrogates and donors with legal contracts to ensure that certain procedures, including psychiatric and background checks of egg donors, surrogates and intended parents, take place before anything is agreed upon, offsetting the risks that can be involved with this lengthy process.

It’s also important to note that no one in this process looks at children as a commodity, as one Boston bioethicist asserted in the New York Times article. Agencies are here to help guide people through the very sensitive and complicated process, and ensure that healthy babies are being born to stable and loving environments.

Stories like this leave us sick. We have worked hard for so many years to bring ethical guidance to the fertility community. Unfortunately, when couples set out on a quick, “less expensive” path to make a family, they increase the risk of being misguided or worse. In this case, you most certainly get what you pay for.