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Round 2 without an agency?

You made it through the first pregnancy, and you had a baby or maybe even twins. Congratulations! A month, one year, two years have gone by (I’ve even seen 6!) and you’re ready for another child.

Round 2, the sibling round, has a few different rules than the first journey you went through. Most of them are for the better. Now you’re more experienced and better understand how the process works. You’ll probably already be familiar with the service providers, the American agencies, and the staff at the clinic, and in the best-case scenario you’ll even work with the same surrogate.

Up front, the second journey is usually much less expensive (if you still have embryos left from the first process). If the second pregnancy is with the same surrogate, you may sometimes use the basis of the legal contract from your first process, and this can be an encouraging start in lowering costs.

I’ve often been asked whether you can forego the American agency in the second journey, providing that the couple already knows the surrogate to the degree that she’s a proper friend.

The first answer is legal: Have you (as a couple) or the surrogate signed a contract binding you to the agency in the case of a second journey? If the answer is yes, then you should consult with your lawyer and check whether it’s even legal to bind you/her anyway else.

The other answer refers to your financial savings. If you choose not to work with the agency, it will save you thousands of dollars that you would have paid them for managing the process, but it’s important that you understand that it means a lot more work for you.

You’ll have to manage everything with the insurance agents in the United States, with the clinic for a second approval for the surrogate, and with the American lawyers, hospitals, welfare of the surrogate etc. The agency’s job is also to manage the trust account, to transfer the funds each month to all the parties (insurance companies, travel reimbursements, medication, allowance, etc.), and to find local hospitals and clinics, to book the surrogate’s travel to and from your clinic, and to check that everything is running smoothly. Also, remember that some agencies run support groups and enrichments activities for surrogates, as part of the services offered in the process.

If you’ve chosen to forego the services of an agency in order to cut costs, you - and the surrogate - will need to be a lot more hands on. She will also need to take care of things that the agency probably took care of in the previous jourmey.

And one last thing to consider: the interpersonal aspect. When there’s no broker, it’s your obligation to manage the relationship with the surrogate more closely, and it needs to be done with the utmost sensitivity. The surrogate won’t be able to call the agency and rant about “why didn’t the parents call”, and you won’t be able to ask, “just check with her if it’s OK that we don’t extend her hotel stay by another night”. Which means that your relationship with her has to be very good, forthcoming, and friendly. Even if the first journey was successful, the second round may be disappointing, and each side will have to air their grievances. Also, what happens if you have to switch surrogates for some reason?

I’ve seen quite a few cases where couples chose not to work with an agency for round 2, and succeeded, and each person can decide whether the money saved was worth the effort and involvement required. I’ve also seen those who chose to work an agency (same one or a new one) or another middleman to manage the jourmey at a lower cost. Fortunately, I haven’t encountered a bad journey either way (touch wood!).

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