Jarret Zafran and his husband built their beautiful family through surrogacy and egg donation. They loved their gestational carrier, but both parties completed the journey knowing that something was missing: a personal touch from the agency they worked with. Inspired by their own experience, Jarret left his law firm and founded Brownstone Surrogacy, a full-service surrogacy agency located in New York City. The agency “places ethics and transparency front and center” and is dedicated to providing personalized support to both intended parents and gestational carriers. Read on to learn more about the agency, Jarret’s ‘why’, and his helpful advice for those just beginning to consider surrogacy. Also… puffins!
1. What inspired you to start Brownstone Surrogacy?
We started Brownstone Surrogacy for two main reasons. The first is personal. My husband and I have a daughter with the help of a gestational surrogate and egg donor. We worked with a large, reputable agency and our surrogate was amazing, but something was missing from the agency: a personal touch. Both our surrogate and us came away from the experience knowing that the agency experience could be much better. A surrogacy agency can be personal and professional. Brownstone was founded to be the agency we would have wanted guiding us.
The second reason I left my law firm job to start Brownstone is about ethics. New York finally legalized compensated gestational surrogacy around the time our daughter was born, and the new law raised ethical standards by creating the Surrogate’s Bill of Rights, creating a government licensing regime for agencies, and requiring that no licensed agency has a financial relationship with lawyers or fertility clinics. It may sound a bit wonky, but as an attorney attuned to conflicts of interest, I was inspired by the growing movement to facilitate surrogacy the right way–transparently, professionally, and with compassion. At Brownstone, everything we do is with the best interests of our amazing intended parents and surrogates in mind, not our own bottom line.
2. You adopted a puffin as your agency mascot. Can you tell us why?
Absolutely! Puffins are not only cute, they’re actually a great symbol of what we work to achieve in our family building. They take time to plan their breeding. They lay one egg. Puffin couples work together to defend it and share equally in the duties of rearing the baby puffin (called a puffling!). And the pufflings form strong attachments to their parents and home.
3. What is your advice for intended parents just beginning to consider surrogacy?
While it might seem paradoxical: (1) Do Your Research and (2) Follow Your Gut. Let me explain.
“Do Your Research” means be familiar with the process before starting. Know the basics of the screening, matching, medical, and legal processes, and understand the financial commitments you are making. A good agency will be there to guide you at every step, but it’s still important to invest time and energy. There are likely to be a lot of weighty personal questions you alone should answer, such as “what type of relationship do I want with my surrogate?” or “how do I best parent a donor-conceived child?” Moreover, to pick the right agency, it’s important to be attuned to details like (1) what are the terms of their rematch policy; (2) do they use an independent escrow agent; and (3) will I be empowered to choose my own attorney. Understanding the nuances will help you along the way.
“Follow Your Gut” once you have done your research. If there’s a voice inside of you saying something like “I don’t trust this agency representative,” “I don’t think this is the right surrogate for us,” or “This egg or sperm donor does feel right,” trust that instinct. You’ll make so many decisions during your surrogacy journey and it’s helpful to keep your eye on what’s important and not overthink all of them.
4. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about Brownstone Surrogacy?
We want everyone to know that what they see is what they get with Brownstone. We’re transparent in all aspects–from what’s included in our agency fee, to what total estimated costs will be, to who your point-of-contact will be throughout your journey. We don’t hide the ball. We don’t pass you off from one coordinator to another. We don’t let wealthier clients cut the line or receive special treatment. We’re small. We hold high standards. And we always have your back.
Everyone on our team–our founder, our surrogate consultants, our psychologist, and our OB–is passionate about building families. We’d be honored to help you build yours.
Thank you for sharing your story and helpful advice, Jarret! We’re thrilled to have you on GoStork.
Ready to start your search for a surrogacy agency? Learn more about Brownstone Surrogacy and other wonderful options, here.