As Canadians we need a surrogate in the US. How many trips should we plan to make during this process? Ask Dr. Doyle

QUESTION: My partner and I live in Toronto, and we need to work with an agency in the U.S. to help build our family. We are considering at least two children. Maybe twins? We both currently work full time, and can’t make too many trips to the U.S. We realize that we’ll want to spend time with the American surrogate, and there will be many initial meetings as we choose the egg donor and surrogate. What’s the average number of times a prospective parent typically travels to the U.S. during this entire process? Does the surrogate ever travel to see the parents?

Dr. Doyle: Actually this can end up being much easier than you might think. Last year I personally worked with over 50 international couples doing egg donation and/or surrogacy, and we have in the process learned streamline travel issues quite a bit.

With SKYPE or email it is possible to evaluate many donor applicants and in many instances to even make your choice without coming to the US. Choosing your carrier is more likely to deserve a trip so that you can meet her (and her family) and if possible even see and feel her homelife. It is not common for a carrier to travel to you.

For the medical testing that you and your partner will need to do, it is easy to have semen analyses performed in almost any large city and to forward the test results. FDA screening tests are bit trickier, because the bloodwork must be performed in a FDA-approved lab in the US only, but it is still possible for you to have your blood drawn at home and have it shipped here for analysis, sidestepping another trip to the US.

When the donor’s eggs are retrieved you will likely want to be here anyway (and that is our recommendation so that we can use your “fresh” sperm) but in cases where that is not possible, you can have your sperm frozen at home and shipped here, which in almost all instances, does not affect the quality of fertilization or the pregnancy rates. Being here for the embryo transfer is for most people a very special experience, even though technically we don’t need you once you have given your sperm (sorry…)

Once your carrier is pregnant, many parents find a way to return to the US for the second trimester ultrasound which she has with her OB, since you can really see the baby (or babies) and it really makes the pregnancy feel very real, as well as reinforce the important bond you want to have with your carrier. Again, very nice… but not essential.

Ask Dr. Doyle