For most couples, the idea of having their own child is not one that they have to spend a lot of time considering, it's a natural process. That process however, for some couples is just not that simple. Science has come a long way to provide alternative methods to having children when the natural process just won't work. Fertility treatments range from artificial insemination to in-vitro fertilization including egg and sperm donations to surrogacy. The purpose of this article is to shed some light on the growing alternative of surrogacy arrangements.
The use of surrogates can be traced to biblical times where a woman would bear a child for a couple to raise usually with the male half of the couple being the genetic father. This form of surrogacy is termed "traditional" surrogacy and the child is genetically related to the sperm donor/father and the surrogate mother. Typically, this arrangement is completed through insemination or in-vitro fertilization however, the legal issue becomes one of terminating the biological mother's rights. This can become quite complicated as the intended surrogate is the biological mother of the child and she has to give up her parental rights to the child.
Legally speaking, the more streamlined surrogacy process is gestational surrogacy. This is an arrangement where the intended mother is not able to carry a baby due to a medical condition and a surrogate is used to carry the baby to term. The medical condition has to be confirmed by a doctor and many times, the intended mother has a history of miscarriages.
With gestational surrogacy, there is no genetic link between the surrogate and the child. This happens when the couple use either their own or donated sperm and egg to create an embryo through in-vitro fertilization. That embryo is then implanted into a gestational surrogate and the pregnancy continues to term. Usually the first step is to work with a fertility clinic after establishing the intended mother's inability to carry a child. If the path the couple chooses is to use a surrogate, they must then find a healthy, willing gestational carrier. The surrogate can be a friend or relative of the couple or a couple can use an agency or the internet to find a suitable carrier.
Once a surrogate is chosen, an arrangement must be reached that includes details such as a legal contract and expenses to be covered. This is where the legal process becomes involved. The details are critical as the contract covers a host of issues including the intent of the agreement, medical disclosures, reimbursements and parental rights. The commissioning parents hire an attorney to draft the contract and the surrogate then has the right to have an independent attorney review the gestational surrogacy contract.
At the Law Office of Sorondo Bonham, we are experienced in the emotional and legal challenges assisted reproduction presents and we are happy to help couples who seek out this alternative to add to their family. We represent commissioning parents in preparing the contract and when the baby is born, in the Affirmation of Parental Status. We can also represent the surrogate in reviewing the contract when presented by a commissioning couple's separate counsel. She can be reached at Bonham@bonham.law