Because surrogacy is collaborative effort, it can be helpful to have steps in place to ensure your rights as intended parents are protected. That’s where the surrogacy legal process comes in.
You can get connected to a surrogacy professional now to get more information about the legal process of surrogacy or read on for the basics.
The surrogacy legal process varies from state to state, which is why it is vital to get connected to a surrogacy professional that can help you navigate the process.
What is the legal process of surrogacy?
Surrogacy is when a woman (known as a gestational carrier or surrogate) carries an embryo through birth for another family (known as intended parents).
The legal process of surrogacy does three main things:
- Document an agreement between the surrogate and intended parents about expectations during surrogacy
- Establish the Intended Parents as legal parents after birth
- Establish compensation plans for the surrogate
What are the Steps of the Surrogacy Legal Process?
Often families create a contractual agreement before surrogacy begins, and complete additional paperwork towards the end of pregnancy and after the birth of the child.
Step 1: Create a Surrogacy Contract
Before your surrogate begins carrying an embryo, it is important that you are on the same page and have clear expectations for the legal surrogacy process. A surrogacy contract is the standard way of making an agreement with your surrogate.
In the process of creating your surrogacy contract, you, your attorney, your surrogate, and your surrogate’s attorney will discuss many topics, including:
- Financial considerations such as compensation for the surrogate
- Reimbursement provided to the surrogate for things like prenatal vitamins and maternity clothes
- Plans and expectations in case of unexpected situations or emergencies, like twin pregnancy, bed rest, or termination of pregnancy
- Agreements about lifestyle habits like abstaining from drugs and alcohol
- Social considerations and communication and who will be present for appointments and the hospital stay
This step is vital for the surrogacy process to proceed, and if you can’t come to an agreement on important issues, it may mean that your surrogate is not a good match.
A great surrogacy professional can help you avoid many barriers in the surrogacy contract if they ask the right questions before matching you with a surrogate. You can click here to get professional help matching with a surrogate now.
Step 2: Create a Pre-Birth Order
When the surrogacy process begins, your surrogate will visit a fertility clinic to have an embryo implanted through IVF, which means everyone involved will begin the plans outlined in your surrogacy agreement.
As the pregnancy advances, you will likely be in communication with your surrogate and getting prepared for birth. In some states, creating a pre-birth order is necessary or recommended towards the later part of pregnancy—usually around the seventh month.
Your attorney will help you create and file this document if it is necessary for your state. The pre-birth order sets up intended parents as the legal parents of the child who is born through surrogacy, and allows for you to receive your child at the hospital and bring them home.
Step 3: Sign Legal Documents at Birth
In almost all cases, there will be additional documents for you to fill out and sign at birth. Some states require that surrogates and intended parents wait until after the birth of the child to complete legal paperwork declaring intended parents as legal parents. And in other states, post-birth documentation finalizes that pre-birth order that was made earlier during the pregnancy.
Step 4: Complete an Adoption or Other Legal Steps if Necessary
Depending on your state, there may be additional legal steps necessary to make sure that both parents are on your child’s birth certificate and are legally listed as parents when your child is born.
In some states, genetic relation and legal marital status can affect your ability to be legally recognized as a parent to a child born through surrogacy. A stepparent adoption, second-parent adoption, or full adoption may be necessary in those cases, and in some states, there may be barriers for LGBT couples or couples who are not legally married.
Knowing the basics of the legal process of surrogacy and having the right support can help you avoid legal barriers and find a surrogacy opportunity that will work for your family. You can get help from a surrogacy agency now, that can help you find a surrogacy opportunity and navigate the legal surrogacy process from start to finish.