When going through the surrogacy process in Florida, there are many decisions to be made. One of the biggest and most important decisions is how to select your Florida surrogate.
To find your surrogate, many parents use a Florida surrogacy agency that matches qualified surrogates with the parents. Some parents use self-matching methods to find their surrogate (i.e. the Internet or through friends and family). Either way that you locate your surrogate, there are legal, practical, medical, and psychological considerations to take into account before moving forward.
An experienced Florida surrogacy lawyer can guide you through.
Legal Requirements When Selecting a Surrogate in Florida:
In Florida, the only legal requirement to be a surrogate is that she be 18 years old. That being said, there are many practical considerations to take into consideration when picking a surrogate.
Every state has different laws regarding surrogacy so be sure to consult with an attorney licensed in the appropriate state to ensure there are not other legal qualifications in being a surrogate.
Practical Considerations When Selecting a Florida Surrogate:
Since in Florida the legal requirements to be a surrogate are limited, some of the “best practice” considerations to take into consideration when selecting a surrogate include, but are not limited to the surrogate:
- Be a U.S. citizen and not part of any Native American or Indian Alaskan Tribe
- Has her own children
- Had an uncomplicated delivery with limited c-sections
- Has reliable transportation and a good support system
- Lives in a stable environment
- If she works, consideration of her wages since the parents will be responsible to reimburse her if she misses work for certain reasons during the term of the surrogacy journey
- Is on the same page as the intended parents with issues such as how many embryos will be transferred and whether she would terminate or reduce the pregnancy if the parents’ requested
- Does she pas the medical screening performed by the IVF doctor?
- Does she pass the psychological screening performed by the mental health professional?
Medical Considerations When Selecting a Surrogate:
Beyond the practical consideration of selecting a surrogate, there are medical considerations that are a factor when selecting a surrogate:
As provided in the book I co-authored published by the American Bar Association, titled, The ABA Guide to Assisted Reproduction: Techniques, Legal Issues, and Pathway to Success, reproductive Dr. Mark Denker provided the following insight into some of the things he looks for when selecting a surrogate:
The selection and screening of gestational surrogates has changed over the years. Initially, surrogates were required to be in excellent physical health, not be overweight, and to pass psychological exams and interviews. In addition, to qualify as a surrogate, women were not permitted more than three cesarean sections, four vaginal deliveries, or some combination thereof.
With the increasing popularity of gestational surrogacy, however, the pool of available surrogates has diminished, necessitating a wider net be cast in order to allow enough surrogates into the screening process to accommodate the demand. Historical requirements for a maximum body mass index (BMI), age, or number of cesarean sections have basically disappeared from the surrogate-screening landscape. Currently, it is not unusual to accept a surrogate that has had six pregnancies, four or more C-sections, and is overweight. In these situations in particular, it is advisable to obtain prior assessment and clearance from a maternal-fetal medicine specialist
Psychological Consideration When Selecting a Surrogate
Before moving forward with the legal contracts with a surrogate, a psychological screening of the surrogate (and her spouse or partner, if any) should be performed to ensure she is fit from a mental health perspective. The psychological screening is not a legal requirement in Florida but is a widely acknowledged best practice when screening a surrogate and most fertility clinics will require it before a cycle can begin.
Some notable topics that are analyzed during the psychological screening are issues such as whether the surrogate seems fit to be able to relinquish the legal rights of the child to the parents and ensure there are not any apparent attachment issues. It’s important to make sure the surrogate feels comfortable in how to talk to her friends and family, including her own children about how she will be acting as a surrogate.
Additionally, the mental health professional screens to make sure that the surrogate appears to be on the same page as the parents on whether she would abort or reduce the pregnancy under circumstances acceptable to both parties.