No matter what kind of surrogacy journey you choose to complete, you will need a surrogacy attorney to protect your interests and legal rights as a prospective surrogate. Absolutely no modern surrogacy can be completed without the legal guidance of a surrogacy attorney — for the protection of all parties involved.
But, what exactly is a surrogacy attorney? What do they do, and why are they so necessary for the surrogacy process?
Keep reading this article to learn more about surrogacy lawyers and how you can find the perfect one for you.
What is a Surrogacy Attorney?
A surrogacy attorney is one of the few necessary professionals required to complete a surrogacy. This kind of professional is also known as an assisted reproductive technology (ART) attorney, as they deal with the legalities of all kinds of assisted reproduction — such egg, sperm and embryo donation and the legal steps needed to terminate parental rights and create donor agreements with these processes.
Surrogacy lawyers have to go through the same certification process as any other attorney, which means they often have years of experience before they even start practicing on their own. In fact, there is even a national association that only the most qualified surrogacy lawyers can be a part of: the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys.
Why Do I Need a Surrogacy Attorney?
Surrogacy attorneys are more than just a suggestion for intended parents and surrogates going through this family-building process — they’re a requirement.
Currently, there are no federal surrogacy laws, which means each state has different legal processes and regulations to be followed by intended parents and surrogates in that state. Often, these laws are extremely complicated. If an intended parent or surrogate doesn’t follow them exactly, there can be criminal repercussions. This is a major reason why surrogacy lawyers are so important and so necessary in any modern surrogacy process.
A surrogacy attorney will always work to protect the rights and interests of their client. Therefore, it’s required that each party in a surrogacy — the intended parents and the surrogate — are represented by separate surrogacy lawyers before they can move forward with the process. Once each party has an attorney, that legal professional will help to:
- Draft and negotiate a surrogacy contract that protects the rights and interests of both parties involved
- Establish the intended parents’ parental rights through appropriate legal actions (like pre-birth orders or post-birth adoptions)
- Ensure you meet any state-specific requirements and serve as legal counsel throughout the surrogacy process
Only with the oversight of a surrogacy lawyer can a surrogacy contract be valid and cover all potential risks and liabilities of the surrogacy process. After all, surrogacy lawyers are the best professionals to address all potential complications, as they can protect intended parents and surrogates in a way that other surrogacy professionals cannot.
If you are looking to become a surrogate, you will need to work with an experienced surrogacy attorney before you can start the medical process of surrogacy. In fact, most fertility clinics will not allow the medical process to begin until a finalized surrogacy contract is presented.
How Do I Find a Surrogacy Lawyer?
As surrogacy and other assisted reproductive technologies become more popular, the number of surrogacy lawyers available throughout the U.S. continues to grow as well. However, with such a large availability of surrogacy attorneys, how do you find the one that is right for you as a prospective surrogate?
Like choosing any surrogacy professional, finding a surrogacy attorney will take some research and understanding of exactly what you desire in this kind of professional. Fortunately, if you choose to work with a surrogacy agency, your specialist will likely have a list of experienced surrogacy attorneys that their organization frequently works with and recommends. For many surrogates, this is a huge advantage to working with a surrogacy agency, as they do not have to search for an appropriate surrogate mother attorney on their own.
However, if you do wish to select a surrogacy attorney yourself, it’s always a great idea to start with the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys. This organization provides a list of experienced surrogacy lawyers to select from, organized by state. Prospective surrogates can use this as a resource to start their list and, from there, take the opportunity to get to know each attorney a bit better.
As you speak with a surrogacy attorney to determine if they are the right professional for you, here are some questions to ask:
- How many surrogates and intended parents do you typically work with at a time? Do you usually represent one party more than the other?
- How long have you been practicing law? How long have you been representing surrogacy clients?
- How will you help me identify and protect my surrogacy goals and preferences?
- What does your contract negotiation process look like?
- What kind of contact availability will you have, in case I have legal questions throughout the process?
Remember, it’s always important that you feel 100 percent comfortable with your surrogate lawyer before you commit to working with them. Your intended parents will pay your legal fees, so all you need to focus on is finding the right surrogacy attorney for you. Often, this involves a great deal of research and interviewing if you are not receiving a referral from your surrogacy agency.
To start your search by speaking with a surrogacy agency and receiving referrals for surrogacy attorneys, contact an appropriate professional today.