Since I manage an online surrogacy meet-up group, I have heard a few stories of people trying to take advantage of others when trying to find a surrogate or intended parents and it does go both ways. I also have to point out that for every bad story I hear, I hear of MANY, MANY more good stories. If you don’t have anyone to vet yet, check out my post, “How to find a surrogate on your own.”
Most of what I’m talking about here is during the initial stages of meeting, where the offender doesn’t cause too much harm, but does cause frustration and usually a loss of some amount of money. Also, typically, we are not dealing with actual people who intend to be surrogates scamming people and we’re not dealing with actual people that need surrogacy to build their family scamming people. We are dealing with crooks taking advantage of the surrogacy community and preying on the weakness of the hopes and dreams of those who want children. It’s sickening, but not reflective of the actual process or the beauty of surrogacy.
Truly, I think that most people would see through the “shadyness” of some of these initial encounters a mile away, but I also know that intended parents are sometimes people that have been through the ringer and are desperate to make things work, which can cloud their judgment. Also, it’s possible that some potential surrogates are taken advantage of because they don’t know a whole lot about the process yet.
Later in the process, once you have found a surrogate or intended parents that you feel pretty good about, and the two of you are on the same page, you will go through more official checks with your attorney and counselor, but before you get to that point, I wanted to share some overall tips with you on how to stay safe and protect yourself during those early stages of meeting someone.
Tips for protecting yourself when matching for surrogacy independently
- If something feels off, trust your feelings. Don’t get too invested. Try to sniff out what’s making you uneasy or cut ties. If you feel uneasy now, as you are just meeting, it’s not a good sign.
- If anyone tries to get you to send them money right away, run. That is not the order of things. You have lots to discuss before any money changes hands. Sure, discussing the amount of compensation is fine, but if someone wants a “deposit” or something like that right away — no. No money should change hands until there is a legal agreement in place. And, lots of things have to fall into place before you have an agreement. In fact, our first payment to our surrogate was upon signing the agreement.
- Same goes for gift cards. And, a big huge no is any kind of weird scheme involving overpaying you with a check and then asking you to wire the difference back. But, of course the check will be bad. Seriously, use your heads here. Read this.
- Research the other party. I recommend this no matter how good things seem to be going. But, initially, do what sleuthing you can, if it’s only browsing through their Facebook profile. Friend them so you can see everything. Also, google their name and email address separately and see what pops up. Again, later, you can consider a background check, credit check and counseling, but you can do this for now.
- If you are dealing with someone on Facebook, be wary of people without profile pictures or with weird names. However, I will mention that some intended parents have a second profile for Facebook interactions as 1) they don’t want people to know they are infertile and/or pursuing surrogacy or 2) potential gay couples or single men that are not out of the closet or just don’t want people to know. So, there might be a good reason, but find it out. If there is a connection, the other person should invite you to friend their real profile.
- Surrogates, if someone approaches you as an intended parent and suggests having sex with you to keep costs down or you having sex with their husband, this is BAD. This is NOT normal and not at all how surrogacy works. This is super creepy and you need to curtail any further communication and block them however you can. You might even consider reporting this to the police. I have only heard of this scenario once, and I’m sure it’s obvious, but just throwing it out there.
- Be skeptical in general. Assume things are not good, until proven otherwise.
- Run the situation by someone you trust. Maybe something feels off? Discuss it with someone you trust or someone that has been in this situation before. Maybe you are too close to it, maybe you are desperate (I say that with no judgment as I was in your shoes) and therefore maybe you don’t want to see that it’s not a good situation. This has happened to me in the past with other things. I couldn’t admit something to myself and had to tell someone else so they could tell me.
- Poor grammar and spelling. I hate to say this and please don’t mistake this as elitist. My husband speaks English as his second language and his speech is 1000 times better than his writing. So, I get it. However, I’m just saying let this be one more thing on your radar. You could be dealing with a very nice, selfless person whose first language is not English and lives in your state and would work out to be a great surrogate for you. Or, you could be dealing with a professional scammer sitting behind a computer in Nigeria. Just stay alert.
Best of luck to you in your search for a surrogate. Please, please protect yourselves and use good sound judgement. If you do this initial work, hopefully you won’t get into a really dicey or heartbreaking situation later.
Still evaluating if you can afford surrogacy or do it on your own?
If you are still considering if independent surrogacy can work for you, or if you can afford it, grab my free Independent Surrogacy Cost Estimate here.
Ready to jump in with both feet?
You can take the fast-track to getting started with surrogacy by getting my Complete Guide to Independent Gestational Surrogacy. I will share everything we’ve learned with you about how to do this without an agency step by step.
Resources + Connect
- Get my Complete Guide to Independent Surrogacy
- View all surrogacy related posts.
- Like my infertility advocacy page on Facebook or just come say hello! 🙂