As an Intended Parent that went to India for Surrogacy, one of the things that has consistently surprised me about international surrogacy agents is their lack of professionalism. Unfortunately, this is an issue that is not limited to one particular agent or agency
Currently, anyone with the ability to create a website can do so and call themselves a surrogacy agent. There are no standard educational requirements, no licensing process, no requirements for professional liability insurance, and no agreed upon standards for what constitutes professional behavior. This lack of a consistent, enforceable set of standards leaves clients with few tools to evaluate an agent’s skills and experience and zero protection if the relationship sours.
The lack of professional boundaries in the international surrogacy community is clearly demonstrated by an absolute disregard for client confidentiality. From press releases, to Facebook posts and messages and outright gossip, I have been horrified at the amount of detailed information that these agents share, often to the detriment of their clients.
The amount of personal information given to surrogacy facilitators is staggering. They have access to HIPPA protected medical information, client financial information (including account numbers, social security numbers, etc..) and significant amounts of personal information. It is my opinion that client information belongs solely to the client and should never be disseminated without their express written permission. That permission should be revocable at any time. Additionally, a client blogging about their experience does not negate their right to confidentiality. The fact that I share some parts of our surrogacy journey does not give an agent license to elaborate on or allude to anything beyond what is stated here.
I think it’s reasonable for agents to discuss the types of services they have provided to past clients. However, this should only be done if client confidentiality is maintained. Client confidentiality goes beyond the name of the client, but also extends to identifying information. For example, an agent sharing that they have experience aiding in the insurance reimbursement process is acceptable. Sharing which companies the agent has worked with is also acceptable. Sharing that they aided a particular client in receiving reimbursement is not. Sharing that you have experience working with HIV+ clients- totally fine. Sharing that you have experience working with a great couple living in San Francisco who are HIV + jazz lovers… not acceptable.
Current and past clients are often utilized in recruiting new clients. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for a client to give a reference if they want to. However, financial transparency demands that if a person is being paid for referrals, (whether that is through discounts on services or a cash transfer) that this be disclosed to prospective clients.
The primary motivation behind disclosing confidential client information seems to be self promotion. The fact that this is so ubiquitous within the industry does not make it right. An agency with solid credentials and a real commitment to ethical surrogacy practices should not need to compromise client confidentiality in order to promote their business.