This is an incredibly loaded question that should but does not have a clear answer. I will, however, try to explain it as clearly as possible so that expectations are appropriately managed. We would like nothing more than to match every applicant with a surrogate the same day they come into our program. It’s an understatement to say that all parties involved are deeply enthusiastic to get that proverbial ball rolling as fast as possible. But, for reasons that correspond to the profound rewards, responsibilities, and implications of surrogacy, it is incumbent upon everyone involved in the process to attend to each detail with great care.
Before an agency can send a potential surrogate for review to a fertility clinic, most clinics will require the following prerequisites: documentation for all previous pregnancy and birth records, an up-to-date pap smear and physical examination, a psychological evaluation of the surrogate (and also any live-in partner or spouse if applicable) and a criminal background check.
Consequently, it takes up to four months on average for an agency to fully vet and screen a surrogate. The parts of the screening process that often take up the most time are getting previous clinics and hospitals to send medical records in a timely fashion and getting a current pap smear and physical exam scheduled. Sometimes we get lucky and those factors are conveniently expedited, but more often than not we can expect the vetting process to take longer while all the relevant information is collected, organized, and shared among the disparate entities and agencies. Once we have all of the necessary information to send to a fertility clinic for pre-approval of a surrogate (which we must do before showing a profile to prospective intended parents), it then remains for the clinic itself to pre-approve her. This additional review process from the clinic can take another two to six weeks on average.
So, the best-case scenario, barring any delays, scheduling complications, and bureaucratic shuffling, would be a surrogacy match within about two months from the initial application. The realistic average will be between three and four months from the initial application. Either way, what I can say is that every bit of anticipating the approval is well worth the wait.