A friend of mine did an amazing thing. At the age of 42, she agreed to be a surrogate for her sister, who was unable to get pregnant. The sister had her eggs harvested, fertilized by her husband’s sperm, and then implanted into my friend, the surrogate. Nine months later, twins – a boy and a girl – entered the world. And my friend became an auntie.
The story is a good one. And true. The sisters remain close, the children are now in high school, and everyone in the family holds the surrogacy as an ultimate bond and reflection of family love. Gosh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if all surrogacy arrangements played out so beautifully?
But that isn’t always the case. Emotions often run high, and things can get complicated very quickly. If you are a hopeful parent considering a surrogate pregnancy, the following steps are necessary to protect your interests and help achieve the desired outcome.
The first step is to see a fertility specialist to determine eligibility for surrogacy. Some couples choose to donate both the egg and sperm, while others utilize the intended father’s sperm and the surrogate’s egg. Talk to your doctor about your options. Next, intended parents must find a potential surrogate. If there’s no close friend or family member to ask, the best bet is to find an attorney specializing in surrogacy law, and he or she can recommend matching options. Under Virginia law, no one may charge for matching surrogates with intended parents, so be on guard for matching services requiring payment.
After a potential surrogate has been found, the surrogate should go through psychological and physical assessments with trained professionals. This process provides the intended parents with assurances while offering the surrogate the opportunity to learn more about the process and what to expect.
Assuming everyone is still on board, the next step is key. A surrogacy contract must be created, and each side must have independent legal counsel. Almost all surrogacy disasters can be avoided with a carefully drafted contract that protects everyone’s rights and gives direction for any potential mishaps. Your attorney will also prepare the appropriate paperwork to ensure that the birth certificate reflects your status as legal parents. These are complicated legal rights, and a trained attorney is a must.
Payment of the surrogate is a bit tricky. The surrogacy contract should require that money be set aside in a separate fund or bank account to ensure adequate funds. Virginia law prohibits providing compensation, a fee, or a bonus to a surrogate. However, Richmond surrogacy attorney Colleen Quinn states “it is lawful to advance or reimburse reasonable medical and ancillary expenses related to the pregnancy and birth, and this includes reasonable costs for housing and other living expenses.” Check with your attorney to ensure legal compliance for payments made to a surrogate.
The birth of your child is a joyous event and should be free of legal worries. A surrogacy carefully planned with trained medical professionals and legal counsel can ensure that all your time can be spent with the newest member of your family.