Simple Surrogacy has been helping LGBT+ people realise their dreams of parenthood since 2002. Directors Kristen Hanson and Stephanie Scott talk about the services they offer.
Simple Surrogacy was founded in 2002. How has the world of surrogacy changed since then, both generally and for LGBT+ people in particular?
The world of surrogacy for LGBT+ couples has changed in every way possible since we first began this business in 2002. In 2002, many LGBT+ couples did not know that Surrogate was even an option to them, many were convinced that public opinion was still against LGBT+ individuals becoming parents. And of course, the legal landscape has improved since gay marriage was approved in many places, including the UK and in the United States, making it easier legally to help our LGBT+ clients have their families.
What services do you offer to gay men and women who are thinking of starting a family?
First and foremost, we offer them a guide through the tricky surrogacy landscape and our experience in navigating others like them to completing their families. Most recently, we have added on support staff in the United Kingdom, previous Intended Fathers through our program, who will help guide UK parents on a more personal basis. Clients can expect our expertise and knowledge in choosing their surrogate and egg donor, their clinic, their attorneys, their delivery hospital, and even their car seat to use while they are in the United States. We’ll help with every aspect of the journey, right up until they board the plane back to their own homes.
Why choose Simple Surrogacy? What makes you different to other similar services?
In short, people should choose us for the personal attention. At Simple Surrogacy, you are dealing at all times with the owners, Stephanie and Kristen, and our small, intimate staff. We even have staff local to the United Kingdom for personal, local guidance. Clients also choose us for our faster than industry average matching times. Because we are a smaller staff, we have an intimate knowledge of each client, and so we are more easily able to get them the right match in a faster amount of time. We’re also available 24/7 if any issues should arise.
You’re a former Egg Donor. How does this affect your perspective on the services Simple Surrogacy offers?
It’s an advantage because we have seen the process from the other side. As a previous Surrogate and previous Egg Donor, we understand the motivation to help a family form, and we can empathise with the dedication and commitment that it takes to be a Surrogate or Egg Donor. With that knowledge, we’re able to make the journey an important and meaningful one for all parties involved, and it also enables us to teach our Intended Parents and Surrogates more effective communication for a smoother, more pleasurable journey.
Why are your costs often much lower than many of your competitors?
Quite simply, because we want them to be lower. While it is obviously a business factor to make money and be profitable, we also think it is equally important to be at a price range which enable more people to become parents. Parents ourselves, we know the joy that comes with raising a child, and we want everyone who desires that joy to have it. As an agency located in Texas, we have the benefit of operating in a state with no state income tax, unlike comparable agencies that must pay income tax to their state on their earnings. That allows us to cut 10% off their costs right off the top.
In addition, the cost of living is 10-15% lower in Texas, versus California, or states back east such as Massachusetts, New York and Florida. What that means for us is lower overhead and expenses, so we can pass those savings on to our clients. We pay less for almost everything that coastal agencies must pay more for, including, but not limited to, rents, personnel, utilities, professional services and office expenses. That is one of the many reasons why so many companies relocate to advantageous cost-of-living states like Texas.
What criteria must your Egg Donors, Surrogates, and Intended Parents fulfil?
Gestational Surrogates undergo a thorough screening process even before they are presented to clients for a potential match. Each Surrogate must fill out an extensive detailed profile, and submit to a criminal and financial background check. Once those are cleared, we collect medical records from all of her previous pregnancies, and have them reviewed by a reproductive endocrinologist. The Surrogates also have to pass a psychological evaluation. Once they are through that initial criteria, which less than 20% of our applicants pass, they are presented to Intended Parents for matching. After matching, the Surrogate will be sent to the Parent’s choice of clinic for thorough medical screening by their clinic.
Donors also have an extensive profile to fill out, complete with testing scores, grades, and family medical history spanning all known genetic conditions. The donors also submit photographs, from childhood through to adulthood. Once chosen, Donors go in for further screening at the Parent’s clinic of choice, which usually involves testing to ensure egg supply, and psychological testing for suitability as a Donor.
Intended Parents are also screened. They must pass a background check to ensure there is no criminal history that would impede their legal process. They also pass a psychological evaluation to ensure they are suitable to be Parents. At their clinic, they will have medical testing and sexually-transmitted disease testing as well.
How are Surrogates and Intended Parents matched, and what is the typical time for a successful match?
Our matching process is based on the extensive Surrogate and Intended Parent profiles that each party completes. Using these profiles, our expert matching coordinators compare factors like desired communication time, stances on termination, location, personalities and many other individual factors to try and make a complementary match. Our match times vary by the requirements involved, but most are made within 3-6 months of Intended Parents passing background clearance.
How would someone in the UK set up an initial consultation with Simple Surrogacy, and what other steps would need to be taken on the road to Surrogacy?
We’d invite them to Skype or call our Executive Director Stephanie Scott. This can be scheduled by completing our contact us form on our web site, or by calling any of our phone numbers. From there, we’d send them detailed programme information as well as the Intended Parent profile to complete.
What do you think has been the greatest achievement of Simple Surrogacy?
Our greatest achievement is the joy that we have been able to bring to so many families. Our favourite time of year is Christmas, when we get to see so many smiling faces sent to us in greeting cards. We hope to add even more United Kingdom couples to our Christmas card list this year!
Visit Simple Surrogacy here.