It’s essential to follow the legal process of surrogacy to protect you (the surrogate), the intended parents, and surrogacy professionals.
Fortunately, surrogacy professionals throughout the U.S. have created a straightforward surrogacy legal process to do just that.
In general, there are three different steps to the legal process of surrogacy:
- Step 1: Determine if surrogacy is legal where you live
- Step 2: Complete a surrogacy contract
- Step 3: Have the intended parents finish their legal paperwork
If you think you’re ready to learn more about the legal surrogacy process, you can contact a surrogacy professional today. But, if you want to find out more about this topic right now, continue reading.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as or should not be taken as strict legal advice. Speak with a local surrogacy attorney to learn more.
Step 1 in the Surrogacy Legal Process: Determine if Surrogacy is Legal Where You Live
In the U.S., there are no federal surrogacy laws. Instead, surrogacy laws vary based on each state’s statutes.
Before you begin the surrogacy process, you’ll need to determine whether surrogacy is legal in your state and which legal surrogacy issues may apply to your situation. For example, some states have made commercial surrogacy illegal, which will affect your surrogate compensation.
The best way to learn about the legality of surrogacy in your state is by contacting a:
- Local surrogacy agency
- Surrogacy attorney
These professionals will have a better legal understanding of your state’s surrogacy laws and can help you start the surrogacy legal process when you are ready.
Step 2 in the Surrogacy Legal Process: 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 your surrogacy specialist helps you find intended parents, you will need to complete a surrogacy contract with an attorney. This contract will address all of the legal issues of surrogacy and protect your interests.
A surrogacy contract usually addresses two legal surrogacy issues:
- Finances: Your surrogacy contract will outline exactly how much surrogate compensation you can expect and 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.
- Social responsibilities: The surrogacy contract will also address the social responsibilities of you and the intended parents. You all will often negotiate a contact schedule and your responsibilities during the pregnancy — like abstaining from the use of drugs and alcohol.
Your surrogacy contract will cover many details, some of which you and the intended parents would not have thought of on your own. That’s why it’s so necessary that experienced surrogacy attorneys complete your surrogacy contract.
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.
Step 3 in the Surrogacy Legal Process: Have the Intended Parents Complete a Pre-Birth Order, if Available
As part of your surrogacy contract, the intended parents’ lawyer will determine the steps needed to establish parental rights. This step can be completed in some states 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 must take steps to establish their legal rights. Pre-birth orders simplify this process, ensuring that once you give birth to the baby, they are automatically legally connected to their 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 to sign a statement that you will relinquish any rights you have to the baby
Step 4 in the Surrogacy Legal Process: 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. Some states may only allow 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. The post-birth parentage process they take will impact what legal steps will be required of you.
Remember, your surrogacy attorney will detail these steps when creating your surrogacy contract and help you complete the legal surrogacy process requirements.
Step 5 in the Surrogacy Legal Process: Finish Your Surrogacy
Once all the legal documents are in order, and your surrogacy is finalized, your surrogacy is complete! You can enjoy any post-surrogacy contact you may have with the intended parents and child, and take time to recover from your delivery.
Next Steps in Your Surrogacy Journey
The legal issues with surrogacy may seem overwhelming at the start. But an experienced surrogacy agency and surrogacy attorney will handle your legal surrogacy processes efficiently and thoroughly.
Contact a surrogacy professional today if you are interested in learning more about surrogacy legal issues and the process of being a surrogate in general.