Surrogacy 101: What You Need to Know

Surrogacy 101: What You Need to Know

The complexities of surrogacy can be daunting and perhaps even foreboding as prospective parents weigh the anticipated elation of successful family building with the logistics as well as the finances of engaging typically a stranger (at the start) to carry your child. So much to ponder, the time commitment, legal issues, the costs, the uncertainty of regulations – wow, my heart is racing  as my mind takes me back almost 30 years to when I began my infertility journey with fewer options than available now but, also, therefore, with a degree of simplicity. And so, I write to you, prospective parents with empathy, with understanding but also with determination that gestational surrogacy, when lead by a team of seasoned, committed professionals can and will be for you a remarkably profound experience as you await the birth of the baby for whom you are so longing.

Where to begin? What is surrogacy? Plainly speaking, it is a legal arrangement by which a woman undergoes pregnancy on your behalf. It is a medical process entailing the creation of embryos (either with the sperm and eggs of the intended parents or with donor sperm and/or donor eggs) the highest grade of which is surgically transferred to the uterus of the surrogate – sometimes referred to as a “carrier”, although I do not prefer that term – who will gestate and then deliver your child. It can be, should be  and almost always is, in my experience – because I only work with the nation’s most well-respected agencies and medical practices – a joyful partnership between you and your surrogate based in respect, commonality of health and well-being and commitment to a best outcome for all.

There are two types of surrogacies, each are distinct in their medical and legal characteristics. The first is “Traditional Surrogacy” in which a surrogate is inseminated with the sperm of the intended father or donor sperm and/or her egg is otherwise used in anticipation of conception. In other words, it’s the surrogate’s egg. She has a genetic connection to the child. At Law Office of Amelia Demma, we decline to offer counsel on traditional surrogacy because there are significant legal risks to this type of arrangement. In fact, in New York, as is the case in many states, traditional surrogacy is not allowed. “Gestational Surrogacy” is an arrangement by which an embryo which contains no DNA related to the surrogate is created in vitro (outside of the body)and then transferred to the surrogate who will have undergone medical preparation in order to optimize the chance that the embryo will implant several days after the transfer. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no genetic connection to the child thereby making a clear delineation of “carrier” and parent. You are the parent; she is simply carrying your child.

Where to begin? If you are a gay couple, the need for a surrogate is obvious. If you are a hetero couple, you will seek the advice of a reproductive endocrinologist as to whether or not having someone else gestate your child is medically appropriate. Same with single prospective parents. Despite how you identify, I do encourage medical consult a “Q&A” appointment and I do suggest that you seek guidance beyond that which a gynecologist might offer. Your surrogate will be treated by a specialist, an “RE”, an endocrinologist who specializes in reproductive medical matters. Why not go right to the source, then, as you begin to gather information and advice. Some reproductive endocrinologists work in hospitals or larger medical institutions, some practice in smaller, independent clinics. Whatever your preference, whatever is available in your area, I urge prospective parents to meet with a fertility specialist to understand the protocol for preparing for surrogacy.

I will address the legal issues implicated in collaborative family building in a next article but hope this writing was informative and encouraging.

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