During surrogacy, a woman agrees to carry a child for an individual or couple who will become the child’s parent or parents after birth. Thankfully, reproductive technologies such as surrogacy and in vitro fertilization can help people overcome both the foreseen and unexpected barriers they may face when building a family. Although surrogacy can have uniquely meaningful outcomes for families struggling with reproduction, intended parents should remain aware of the complexities and potential pitfalls of the process.
Parents find their way to surrogacy from a variety of different experiences and backgrounds. For example, individuals or couples who want to have children may be prevented from doing so because a pregnancy is medically impossible or not recommended, because of fertility issues with one or both partners, or because of other health conditions which might compromise a child’s health. Additionally, same-sex or transgender couples who want to have children may choose surrogacy as their preferred method.
COMMERCIAL VS. ALTRUISTIC SURROGACY
Sometimes the woman who carries and gives birth to the child is given compensation above and beyond the basic expenses associated with the pregnancy, such as medical care and transportation. This is known as commercial surrogacy. If the surrogate is not given additional compensation, the process is known as altruistic surrogacy.
Traditional surrogacy is also known as partial, genetic, or straight surrogacy, and describes the natural or artificial insemination of a surrogate. With traditional surrogacy, the woman who is carrying the child, the surrogate, will be genetically related to the child. The intended parent(s) of the child may choose to use the father’s sperm, in which case the child will be genetically related to that parent, or the parents may choose to use donor sperm.
Gestational surrogacy, also known as host or full surrogacy, differs from traditional surrogacy because the surrogate is not genetically related to the child. Rather, an embryo, created through the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), is implanted in the surrogate. The embryo may be
1. Created using the intended father’s sperm and the intended mother’s eggs
2. Created using the intended father’s sperm and a donor egg
3. Created using the intended mother’s egg and donor sperm
4. Donated by another individual or couple who have undergone in vitro fertilization
In each of these four types of gestational surrogacy, the child will have different genetic relations to the parents and the donors, but in no case will they be related to the surrogate.
SURROGACY USING FAMILY MEMBERS
Some individuals or couples may have family members who offer to serve as their surrogate. Using a family member as a surrogate can have an array of practical and emotional benefits, such as knowing the surrogate’s medical and family history, saving thousands of dollars in agency fees, and being able to actively participate in the process of the pregnancy on a level which may not be reasonable or advisable with a surrogate who is not a close friend or relative. However, it is important to consider the potential difficulties that may arise from a deep emotional relationship with the surrogate of your child. If you are considering surrogacy with a family member, comprehensive legal guidance can help prevent potential complications, both during the pregnancy and throughout the child’s life.
LEGAL ISSUES SURROUNDING SURROGACY
While surrogacy may seem relatively straightforward, there are a variety of legal issues that should be addressed before the process begins so that all parties involved are prepared, informed, and emotionally capable. Educating yourself about the process is the first step toward an intentional and rewarding surrogacy experience.
Legal constructs surrounding surrogacy differ substantially between states, from outright facilitation to a refusal to enforce surrogacy arrangements. However, intended parents can still benefit from states which are friendly to surrogacy by finding a surrogate mother in one of those states, even if the parents do not reside there. Since assisted reproductive technologies law differs from state to state, man find that traditional surrogacy can be more difficult to find legal support for than gestational surrogacy in some states, as can surrogacy for people who are not part of a married heterosexual couple.
If you are thinking about beginning the process of finding or using a surrogate, there are many complexities which should be considered. Pinnacle Law Firm will work to cover all the necessary aspects of surrogacy and guide you through steps and documents such as:
- Surrogate contracts, fees, and expense reimbursement
- Pre-birth orders
- Egg and sperm donation contracts
- Psychological evaluations
- Independent legal counsel
- Counseling facilitation
With the proper precautions and conversations, surrogacy can be an eminently fulfilling experience for everyone involved. Attorney Corlandos Scott looks forward to working with you as you take the next step toward growing your family. To get started, or to learn more about your options, contact Pinnacle Law Firm at (818) 707-5236 or online.