Surrogacy can be a miraculous gift, a way for a childless or infertile couple to fulfill their desire to become parents. However, precautions should be taken to ensure that all parties have a positive and healthy experience. According to Bill Handel, an attorney and founder of the Center for Surrogate Parenting, Inc., there are 10 things you must consider before working with a surrogate.
1. You must have a medical necessity to participate in surrogacy.
Visit an IVF doctor and ask if he or she recommends that you do surrogacy. Keeping your good figure or a stressful high-powered job are not valid reasons to work with a surrogate mother. Most IVF doctors (and all good IVF doctors) will only work with couples that have a medical reason to do surrogacy. There are sometimes psychological issues that can be included, but we consider psychological to be a medical reason.
2. Psychological counseling for the couple.
See a counselor to discuss if surrogacy is right for you, and if you can actually do surrogacy. Can you allow someone to carry a child for you? There are women who need a surrogate mother, but will try to control every aspect of the surrogate's life, and this will cause conflicts between them. Seriously consider child-free living, and discuss this option with your counselor.
3. Psychological counseling and evaluation for the surrogate and her husband or partner.
What is her motivation for becoming a surrogate mother? Has she done surrogacy before, and what went wrong or right that she feels the need to do it again? Does she understand that the couple will be involved in the pregnancy and may have different opinions regarding pregnancy care and treatment? How involved will she allow the couple to be? Get a written psychological clearance on your surrogate mother.
4. Understand the legal status of surrogacy law in the state where your surrogate mother lives.
It is crucial to get an independent legal consultation regarding the laws of the state she lives in. If there are any doubts about finalizing your parental rights, DO NOT proceed. If you plan on having her deliver in another state, DO NOT proceed, because she could have a premature delivery. All parties should have independent legal counsel represent them, and all parties must sign legal contracts before any medical procedure is undertaken.
5. All parties should complete a surrogacy questionnaire that is shared with each other.
These questionnaires include questions about mental illness, hospitalizations, genetic illnesses, prior marriages, prior children, health status, marital status, bankruptcies and legal judgments, prior pregnancy history, infertility history, etc.
6. Psychological counseling
There should be ongoing psychological counseling for all parties throughout the pregnancy and for at least two months after birth.
7. The cost of surrogacy
Do you have the financial ability to pay for the pregnancy? Can you cope with the costs of a high-risk pregnancy, premature birth and miscarriage?
8. At least one parent should be biologically connected to the child being conceived.
If both egg donor and sperm donor are needed with a surrogate mother, be prepared for a far more complicated relationship both legally and psychologically, and ONLY work with a surrogate mother who is a resident in the state of California. California is the only jurisdiction that recognizes such a relationship.
9. Openly discuss and document everyone's expectation of the surrogacy relationship.
This is where each party learns what is expected of him or her by the other, and if they can do what is expected of them. They should also discuss the kind of relationship they believe they would want after birth. Many couples and surrogate mothers find they cannot answer this question, because they have never participated in surrogacy before. This is an answer in itself, as it indicates they are open to many possibilities. A counselor can guide the parties by giving them â€˜what ifs." It is important to remember that the parties are coming together to help the infertile couple become a family and parents. No one is looking to become best friends. If everyone develops a friendship, that is wonderful, but everyone should remember the reason for finding each other. If a long-term relationship is expected by any party, that is OK, but the request needs to be evaluated in terms of what is in the best interest of the child. More specifically, the couple should not agree to continue a close relationship after birth and that the surrogate can attend all birthday parties. The child, at some time, should have the right to decide what relationship is comfortable for him and who attends his birthday paties.
10. Selecting the right agency.
Evaluate the advantages to working with a reputable surrogacy agency.
For more information, contact the Center for Surrogate Parenting, Inc.