As of today, over 46 percent of Americans have completed their COVID-19 vaccination schedules.
While it’s important to note that vaccinations aren’t widely available globally yet, the US has, in many regions, begun to return to a more pre-pandemic way of life. And though many surrogacy agencies (including us) operate completely online, COVID-19 impacted the procedures and availability for important medical staff (like OB-GYNs, IVF doctors, and other personnel crucial to surrogacy), and traveling was of course difficult for much of last year. In some extreme cases, intended parents even found themselves unable to pick up their newborns during lockdowns. Deemed non-essential, many fertility clinics also shut down for some time early last year. For these groups, a safe threshold for the pandemic can provide some more freedom and comfort during the surrogacy process.
Many agencies are continuing to implement additional safety protocols even as the percent of vaccinated Americans increases: some of the largest agencies are using telemedicine visits still whenever possible, and limiting the number of people who can accompany surrogates to appointments. When in person, IVF clinics continue to use enhanced cleaning procedures, social distancing, and occupancy limitations.
Surrogates in decline
The largest issue surrogacy agencies face now is a shortage of surrogates. Some agencies, according to Fortune, have noticed up to a sixty percent decline in surrogate interest from previous years: this might be attributed to the uncertainty of day-to-day life right now, as would-be surrogates in some cases figure out their children’s school schedules, returns to in-office work, and other complicated schedule disruptors. It could also be a factor of financial uncertainty, as the US continued to recover from record numbers of unemployment.
Another sticky situation: the COVID-19 vaccine. Political differences and public uncertainty have made some surrogates hesitant to get their vaccine, and so many surrogacy agencies are now making sure to clarify preferences as they begin the matching process between surrogate and intended parent.
A look at birth rate decline can help us understand an overall trend
The Pew Research Center reported that in 2020 the average US birth rate fell 4%. This is a continued trend of lower birth rates as a result of a variety of issues (some mirrored above), including generational income disparity, increased educational attainment among women, and other social factors.
As the world opens, and as couples evaluate their priorities, the need for surrogacy may grow.
As the US economy stabilizes and as potential surrogates begin again to balance their schedules, it’s likely that surrogacy will resume as normal. And it’s possible that there could be an even larger market for surrogacy in the future, as couples evaluate their goals and priorities post-pandemic.
If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate, consider Love & Kindness as your surrogacy agency. We offer competitive compensation and industry-leading benefits. And we’re a team made up of former surrogates, egg donors, and industry professionals, so we’ve got your back every step of the way.