Here is Where to Start

ROADMAPPING YOUR FERTILITY JOURNEY

Small child sitting in the background.  Four wooden pegs are in the foreground, two adults and two children.

I’ve had a lot of coaching calls with clients recently and a common theme has emerged. So I thought I’d blog about it! The word of the month (other than “baby boom” – as we’ve had 7 new Villagers born this month) here at Village Law Group is “PRIORITIES.” As I work with clients who are struggling with the overwhelming number of variables, twists, and turns in their family building journey, I find myself returning again and again to helping them identify and clarify their priorities. So here’s the breakdown of my advice.

  1. TALK TO EACH OTHER. Sometimes couples make assumptions about their joint priorities (or their partner’s individual priorities) without actually communicating about them. This sometimes results in surprising disagreements about what the couple values most in growing their family. Now is the time to have the tough conversations with your partner about how you want your family to look and what’s most important to you
  1. IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES. Here are the most common priorities to examine when laying out your family building journey.
    1. GENETICS – the priority that the baby be genetically related to one or both of you.
    2. TIME – the priority that a pregnancy occurs as soon as possible. 
    3. MONEY – the priority that the journey be as inexpensive as possible or that it fits within a specific budget (the amount of a second mortgage or the balance of an investment account, for example) 
    4. CONVENIENCE – the priority that you and/or your partner have as much convenience as possible. In an ART (artificial reproductive technology) context, this usually means that you are working with professionals who can offer a high level of support throughout your journey and/or that you can “outsource” the many tasks involved as much as possible
    5. LEVEL OF INVOLVEMENT – the priority that you have the opportunity to be heavily involved in the pregnancy. Often this means that you require a match that is local to you so that you can attend your surrogate’s doctor appointments and meet with her often. You will also need to match with a surrogate that welcomes a high level of involvement and has a compatible vision for the relationship. 
  1. RANK YOUR PRIORITIES. The adage that “there is good, fast, and cheap, but you can only have 2 of the 3” is never more true than in assisted reproduction. Of course, everyone would like to have the ideal journey where the healthy baby of their dreams is born 40 blissful weeks after they manifest a desire to be parents, but that’s usually not how this kind of journey works. For many couples, genetics, time, money, convenience, and a high level of involvement are all desirable priorities. But it’s not always possible to construct a journey that allows for all five. Understanding that you’d rather have your journey take longer if that means that it’s less expensive (or conversely that you’d be willing to spend more to avail yourselves of options that save time), can be a critical breakthrough as you are faced with the many decisions that come with a family building journey. So take the time to really explore what matters most. 
  1. BE WILLING TO FLEX FOR WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU.  If you rank time as your number one priority, for example, then you may need to be flexible on geography. The larger the geographical net that you cast in terms of looking for your carrier match, the more likely you will be to find a match in a timely manner. For example, intended parents who wish to match only in their home state may wait longer than intended parents who are willing to match within a specific region (New England or the Southeast for example), and intended parents who are willing to match with a surrogate anywhere in the United States are likely to match even faster. In this way, you may need to sacrifice your level of involvement (because your surrogate lives farther away) in order to match faster and save time. 

If money is your number one priority, for example, then you may want to explore an independent journey rather than working with an agency in order to save the hefty agency fee. However, matching independently usually takes longer and you will have to manage the many logistics of screening your prospective carrier on your own. In this way, you may need to be willing to sacrifice some time and some convenience in order to save money. 

  1. BE REALISTIC. Once you identify and rank your priorities, try hard to stay true to them when making your decisions. Then be realistic about what is possible. If your agency quotes you 3-6 months to find a match, then be prepared to wait 3-6 months. Becoming anxious after 6 weeks and second-guessing your choice of agency won’t be helpful. If your lawyer tells you in August that the legal contract stage usually takes place about 8 weeks before embryo transfer, don’t set your sights on a September transfer date. There are medical and legal requirements and realities in a surrogacy journey that are largely immovable. Resisting what’s true will only make you frustrated and anxious. When the professionals involved give you estimates of time, money, etc, accept those estimates (even if you wish they were different), and expect them to be more or less accurate. It’s always better to be pleasantly surprised than to be unreasonably disappointed. 

Navigating a surrogacy journey is the ultimate long game, and it’s important to stay mentally strong and clear about what matters most to you. It may also be helpful to have periodic check-ins with your partner to ensure that the decisions you are making feel good to you and are consistent with the priorities you’ve identified. 

If you have questions, please contact us.  Because, sometimes it takes a village.  

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