If you’re considering becoming a surrogate, you should know that surrogacy is legal throughout many areas of the United States — and, therefore, you can make your dreams of being a surrogate come true.
That said, there are some important legal issues with surrogacy that must be addressed in every surrogacy process to protect all involved, including surrogates, intended parents and surrogacy professionals. Fortunately, surrogacy professionals throughout the United States have created a straightforward surrogacy legal process to do just that.
Many people wonder whether surrogacy should be legal, citing the legal implications of surrogacy and potential complications as reasons to be cautious. However, with an experienced surrogacy agency and surrogacy attorney by your side, you can be reassured that your journey to becoming a surrogate will be safe and legal and meet your personal surrogacy goals and preferences.
Your surrogacy professional will always explain the legal issues of surrogacy before you begin, but those issues are also laid out below to help you learn more. However, because only an experienced surrogacy attorney can provide the most accurate information on the legalities of the surrogacy process, this article should is not intended as or should not be taken as strict legal advice. Speak with a local surrogacy attorney to learn more.
In general, there are three different steps to the surrogacy legal process:
1. Understand where surrogacy is legal — and determine what your surrogacy options are where you live.
In the United States, there are no federal surrogacy laws. Instead, surrogacy laws vary based on each state’s individual statutes. Before you begin the surrogacy process, you’ll need to determine whether surrogacy is legal in your state and which legal issues with surrogacy may apply to your situation. For example, some states have made commercial surrogacy illegal, which will affect your surrogate compensation there.
The best way to learn about the legality of surrogacy in your state is by contacting a local surrogacy agency or a surrogacy attorney. They will have a better legal understanding of your state’s surrogacy laws and can help you start the surrogacy process when you are ready.
2. Complete a surrogacy contract.
Once you decide to become a surrogate, you will go through several steps with your surrogacy professional to complete the surrogate screening and matching process. After they help you find intended parents, you will need to complete a surrogacy contract, which will address all of the legal issues of surrogacy and protect your interests throughout this process.
You will receive your own individual lawyer for this legal step. A surrogacy contract usually addresses two legal issues with surrogacy: finances and social responsibilities.
Your surrogacy contract will outline exactly how much surrogate compensation you can expect, as well as which surrogacy- and pregnancy-related expenses your intended parents will cover. Your surrogacy attorney will make sure you receive the appropriate financial compensation for the type of surrogacy you are pursuing.
The surrogacy contract will also address the social responsibilities of you and the intended parents. You all will often negotiate a contact schedule with each other, as well as your responsibilities during the pregnancy — like abstaining from the use of drugs and alcohol.
Your surrogacy contract will likely cover many details, some of which you and your intended parents likely would not have thought of on your own. That’s why it’s so necessary that a surrogacy contract is completed by experienced surrogacy attorneys. You will likely work with a surrogacy attorney provided by your surrogacy agency but, if you are completing an independent surrogacy, you may consider searching for a surrogacy attorney in the directory provided by the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys.
3. Have the intended parents complete a pre-birth order, if available.
As part of your surrogacy contract, the intended parents’ lawyer will determine what steps need to be taken to establish their parental rights. In some states, this step can be completed before delivery with a pre-birth order.
Because one of the controversial legal implications of surrogacy is that you may have parental rights to the baby you’re carrying, the intended parents taking steps to legally establish their rights is incredibly important. Pre-birth orders simplify this process, ensuring that once you give birth to the baby, he or she is automatically legally connected to his or her biological parents. A pre-birth order is typically completed in the third trimester of your pregnancy and requires the gathering of certain medical and social documents related to your surrogacy. You will also likely have to sign a statement that you will relinquish any rights you have to the baby.
4. If a pre-birth order is not available, have the intended parents complete a post-birth parentage order or adoption.
Unfortunately, pre-birth orders are not available everywhere in the United States. Other states may only allow for post-birth parentage orders or adoptions to allow the intended parents to establish their rights — especially in cases where one intended parent is not genetically related to the baby.
Depending on their genetic relationships, intended parents may need to complete a stepparent adoption or a full adoption to establish these parental rights. Which post-birth parentage process they take will impact what legal steps will be required of you. Remember, your surrogacy attorney will detail these steps early in your surrogacy contract and help you complete any necessary legal surrogacy requirements at the time they are needed.
The legal issues with surrogacy may seem overwhelming at the start but, with the help of an experienced surrogacy agency and surrogacy attorney, all of your necessary legal surrogacy processes will be handled efficiently and thoroughly.
If you are interested in learning more about surrogacy legal issues and the process of being a surrogate in general, contact a surrogacy professional today.