Monday, March 12, 2012

Where We Are

After searching and researching, and surfing the web until we nearly drowned, we narrowed our choice of clinics/agencies down to five.  This was based on information generally available on their websites and on blogs.  Decent history of success and serving gay couples were musts - and overall, we just looked for clinics that felt right and seemed open about how they do what they do.

Our finalists (in alpha by city - had to sort somehow):
  1. Dr. Rama's Institute for Fertility  (Hyderabad)
  2. Kiran Infertility Centre  (Hyderabad)
  3. Rotunda - The Center for Human Reproduction  (Mumbai)
  4. Surrogacy India  (Mumbai)
  5. Surrogacy Centre India  (New Delhi)
Not to say any of the others were bad - they just didn't seem like the right fit for us based on the information we had.

We compiled a list of questions we wanted the finalists to answer (below), and a few weeks ago we wrote to each of them for more information with a selected subset of these questions.  We were not only looking for the answers (some of which we already knew), but also to see HOW they answered.

Most didn't even answer the questions we asked, but rather gave very general information that to varying degrees addressed some (but not nearly all) of the questions.  If they couldn't even be bothered to answer a simple question by e-mail, how would they be when we were mid pregnancy and we had a question about an important test result?

Two answered all the questions (and a third nearly all), and we liked what we heard.  We started to focus on them and do more digging - and pretty quickly one rose to the top.

We had a series of good e-mail exchanges with them, followed up by a lengthy Skype "interview" and more e-mails.  Now we're in the middle of talking to some of their references (and a few people who they didn't explicitly give as references, but who used the clinic).

So far, so good - we're exploring our remaining questions and concerns with them, and at the same time building a network of people who have been through the same thing.  I thank them all for their honesty and availability (even while some are juggling newly born multiples!).

For posterity - here are the questions we asked.  We knew some of the answers - and the answers to many more questions we didn't ask - but this gave us a documented list to compare clinics and dig deep.  We asked about 13 of these initially, and the rest (and more) in follow up.
  • How long have you been doing surrogacy?
  • How many staff members are associated with your organization?
  • What hospital are you affiliated with?
  • How many surrogacies have you arranged, how many got pregnant, and how many resulted in a successful delivery?
  • What is your overall success rate for surrogacy with an egg donor?
  • What is your percentage of multiple births w/ surrogacy and an egg donor?
  • What is your percentage of male vs. female births w/ surrogacy and an egg donor?
  • What is the mortality rate after 12 weeks?
  • What percentage of surrogate births have health problems (such as Downs Syndrome or a disability)?
  • Are you a gay friendly organization, and have you served gay couples in the past?
  • Roughly what % of your past clients are gay?
  • Do you arrange to select the surrogate?
  • What criteria is used to screen and select a surrogate?
  • What % of surrogacy applicants are accepted?
  • Do you arrange to monitor and care for the surrogate during the pregnancy?
  • Where do the surrogates live during pregnancy?
  • Do you allow contact with your surrogates during the pregnancy?
  • Do you routinely perform amniocentesis or other genetic tests in utero?
  • What kind of accommodations are the surrogates housed in?  Are their families there?
  • Do we get copies of the scans/results?
  • Do you offer anonymous egg donation?
  • Where do you source your egg donors?
  • Will we be able to select an egg donor based on pictures and written details?
  • How many pregnancy attempts are included, and what is the fee structure if all attempts fail?
  • How many embryos do you typically implant in one try?
  • Do you accept cryoship (or some form of remote deposit) for sperm?
  • Do you arrange for an attorney who is knowledgeable about local laws?
  • Will you provide agreements/contracts in advance for my local attorney to review?
  • Do you provide any assistance in securing the requisite paperwork to leave the country (including exit visa)?
  • Have you been sued by clients or surrogates?
  • How do you typically stay in contact with international clients, and how often during pregnancy?
  • How do you communicate test results and issues/problems to the IPs?
  • Are you willing to have a follow-up conversations via Skype?
  • Who will be our main point of contact?
  • What are your current fees in detail, and how do you structure the payments?
  • Are the prices you quote what your clients actually pay historically?
  • Additional fees for twins?
  • Quote for surrogacy with Indian egg donor (grade A), cryo-ship frozen sperm
  • Cost for second attempt?
  • How are the payments staggered?
  • How out of pocket are we if there is a miscarriage within 12 weeks?  After 12 weeks?
  • How can we be assured that the prices quoted initially will be the final prices paid (barring unforeseen and delineated additional costs)?
  • What services does the Concierge Service provide and how is the service priced?
  • Please provide at least three references, including two gay couples (couples from the US preferred)

We hope to have a final decision in the coming days - stay tuned!

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