Different agencies and attorneys do things differently, of course, but I think most of them try very hard to match girls with couples who are going to be compatible, and work well together. It’s not really like (some) adoption experiences, where the couple who has been waiting in line the longest gets the next baby. A surrogacy relationship is one where you have to work very, very closely together. Given the very nature of fertility treatment, you’re thrust into an intimate relationship pretty much immediately. It’s important, for many reasons, that you and your couple have the same basic outlook going in. Are you both reserved? Outgoing? Private? How important is physical proximity to one another? Would you work with someone who lives overseas? What do you want as far as contact during the process? Are you a phone person, or an e-mail person, or a leave-me-alone-I’m-actually-pretty-busy person? Are you a control freak? Do you mind working with a control freak? If an Intended Mom hovers, will you feel protected, or crowded? If an Intended Mom backs off to give you space, will you feel relief, or abandoned? Would you be willing to work with a couple who already has a child, or would you prefer a childless couple? Would you work with a gay couple? An older couple? A couple of a different race? What is your willingness to carry multiples? How far are you willing to travel for treatments and transfers? What are your feelings regarding selective reduction in the case of multiples, or termination for medical problems? What are your expectations for contact after the birth?
These are all the sorts of things –- important things -- that the social worker learns about you, and about the couples, during the interviews and subsequent contact you have with her. She winds up with a pretty good idea of who might work well together, and why, and what would constitute a “good” match, bearing in mind that what works for one surrogate and one couple, would not necessarily work for another. Not that one set of circumstances is right and one is wrong, just that this is a huge emotional undertaking. Obviously, for all involved, a good fit between surrogate and Intended Parents is not only helpful, but essential. Quite frankly, you just can’t embark on a journey this intense and personal with the wrong person, or it could be miserable for everyone.
And there I was, pestering the social worker to see profiles now, today, yesterday, last week!
The agency I was working with sends two, three, or even more Intended Parents profiles to the surrogate to see first. Naturally, the social worker only sends profiles of couples she thinks might be a good match for you. A profile consists of a “Dear Prospective Surrogate” letter, where the couple tells you about themselves, and pictures. I remember getting my first packet of profiles and ripping the envelope open like a frenzied, ADHD child on Christmas morning, I was SO excited to see them.
Then, after reading them yourself, you have to talk things over with your husband, because of COURSE you have to discuss this with him and analyze each and every single thing about each profile, from their reasons for needing a surrogate to how they look in the pictures to what their hobbies are to who had the stationery you liked best, ooh, look, they used vellum, I wonder if she scrapbooks, and hey, he has a nice face, until your husband rolls his eyes and covers his ears because he is sick to death of dissecting each fact and each story and even each picture, look, they have a golden retriever just like us, and for God’s sake could you just PICK ONE ALREADY?!?!?!
Then, you discuss each profile with the social worker and she helps answer questions you might have. It’s tough, because you have (or at least *I* had, and most the surrogates I’ve ever known, have had) this overwhelming desire to help ALL the couples you see, and choosing between them is a difficult thing to do. A few girls said they knew instantly, the minute they saw their couple’s profile …. But I think just the nature of the beast means you know by choosing one, you are actively NOT choosing another, and that’s hard.
But eventually the social worker helps you decide, if you haven’t decided already for yourself. Then, YOUR profile is sent to that couple, and if they agree that they’d like to meet you, it’s time for the match meeting, which takes place back in Maryland, with the social worker serving as facilitator. And undoubtedly, that is when things start to really get exciting. And nerve wracking, too, because remember how I likened a match meeting to a blind date from Hell? Well, double that times twenty when the time finally comes. No matter how excited and committed you are, you’ll find yourself mumbling under your breath, “What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t like me?”