To read the full article written by surrogacy attorney, Marla Neufeld: https://www.inciid.org/baby-steps-to-surrogacy I was under the impression that once you decide to start a family, you toss the birth control and give it the 'old college try'. BAM! There you are in your cute maternity jeans, booking your family trip to Disney World. I was surely mistaken. The reality my husband and I suffered through years of failed infertility treatments, disappointment, and expense. We attempted IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilization), injected boxes of hormones, endured multiple miscarriages, and wished upon "good luck" charms. We decided we had endured enough and yet didn't want to give up our dream of having our biological child; we reached a 'baby making' crossroads and reassessed our game plan. Several frozen embryos remained from a prior IVF cycle. I could have tried IVF again by means of a FET (frozen embryo transfer). As much as I wanted to experience pregnancy my chance of success was very slim; ultimately our doctor approved us for surrogacy. The process inched forward. Finding a surrogacy agency, surrogate, surrogacy attorney, finalizing medical and psychological testing, and finishing the surrogacy contract took six months. Financial concerns are of paramount importance as surrogacy can range from $60,000 to $150,000. Some expenses include medical costs for IVF, medications, and two attorneys. One attorney writes the contract and another attorney to review contracts for the surrogate, surrogate agency fee, medical insurance for the surrogate and reasonable living expenses of the surrogate. Each state has different laws regarding surrogacy. Some states make it a crime to compensate a surrogate. Other states have surrogacy friendly laws that provide guidelines on compensation to surrogates. These surrogacy friendly states also set clear rules on how those using a surrogate, commonly referred to as the commissioning couple or intended parent(s), can be named as the legal parents of the child without having to go through an adoption or other means of finalizing parental rights. There two types of surrogacy: (i) "traditional" where the child is conceived using the egg of the surrogate, and, (ii) "gestational" which is the more common form of surrogacy where the egg is that of the intended mother or egg donor barring the surrogate any parental rights to the resulting child (or children).
Finding the right SurrogateMy husband and I interviewed multiple candidates before selecting our amazing surrogate. The first surrogate we disqualified based on moral differences. We excluded second potential surrogate because she did not pass physical screening requirements. The third time was most delightfully the charm. This surrogate's husband and she were warm, friendly, positive, and genuinely were excited to help us expand our family. The intended parents secure a surrogate that has cleared a background check, psychological assessment by a licensed psychologist, and medical examination by a licensed reproductive endocrinologist. Intended parents may locate a surrogate on their own (i.e. Internet, friends, family) or through fertility clinics or surrogacy agencies. There are advantages to using a surrogacy agency. Agencies provide (i) provide a number pre-screened surrogate candidates quickly. Agencies address many details you might not realize are important. Such examples may include asking the right questions to your potential surrogate (regarding selective reduction and termination of the pregnancy). Agencies also coordinate various matters such as doctor appointments, transfer embryos from storage facilities to fertility clinics, and other issues. Some states have legal requirements for the qualifications of a surrogate (i.e. age). Family-building through surrogacy incorporates many practical and medical considerations. Some concerns to think about include:
- Does the surrogate have children
- Does she have experience?
- Is her pregnancy and birth history without complications?
- Does she live in a stable and healthy environment for supportive family and friends?
- Is she not any form of governmental assistance?
- Is there a criminal history?
Health Insurance for you SurrogateThe intended parents start the process of obtaining or confirming health insurance for the surrogate. Maternity benefits are based on the surrogate's health insurance if she has any. Insurance policies at times exclude a surrogacy from coverage for health insurance benefits. It is important to have the proper health insurance protection because intended parents are responsible for all health insurance costs for the surrogate relating to the pregnancy.
Selecting the Fertility ClinicSimultaneous with the selection of a surrogate, the intended parents select the fertility clinic they wish to use to screen the surrogate and create the embryos for transfer into the surrogate. Confirming that the fertility clinic selected works with surrogates is crucial because of the specific Federal law guidelines. Not all fertility clinics offer this feature to their patients. My fertility clinic did not offer surrogacy services, so I had to switch clinics and ship my frozen embryos to another fertility practice. Based on the location of the surrogate, you may need to select a second fertility clinic that is closer to the surrogate to monitor the surrogate during the process to avoid her having to travel for routine appointments.
Finalizing a Surrogacy ContractBefore a surrogate begins fertility medications, a gestational surrogacy contract must be drafted. A contract or similar type of agreement is reviewed and negotiated by the attorneys and then fully executed by the intended parents and surrogate (her spouse or partner if applicable). The intended parents and the surrogate should be represented by separate attorneys (both to be paid by the intended parents). It is critical to have the proper documentation in place prior to embarking upon the fertility procedures with your surrogate in accordance with the appropriate state laws. The gestational surrogacy contract is an agreement detailing the parties' rights, obligations, intentions, and expectations. This third party reproductive technology agreement and arrangement covers such subjects as:
- Parental rights;
- Custody issues;
- Location of delivery;
- Future communications between the parties;
- Control over medical decisions during the pregnancy;
- Number of transferred embryos;
- Payment of medical bills;
- Liability for medical complications and
- Any other provisions required by applicable state law.