Surrogacy, a formal arrangement between a woman who carries and delivers a baby for another person or couple, is an option for cancer survivors who no longer have their uterus or whose doctor recommends against pregnancy for health reasons. In this family planning model, fertilized eggs (embryos) are implanted into another woman’s uterus. Survivors can use their own embryos, donated or adopted embryos, or embryos created from donated eggs and/or sperm.
In some cases, the same woman donates her eggs and provides surrogacy services. This is called traditional surrogacy and the biological mother (surrogate) relinquishes her rights to the child in a similar legal manner to adoption. The most common form of surrogacy is Gestational Surrogacy, in which the surrogate mother has no genetic ties to the child, but rather provides a biological environment in which an embryo may flourish into a healthy baby.
All surrogates have medical, legal and other reasonable expenses covered by the intending parent or parents. Commercial Surrogates receive additional monetary compensation for their services. Altruistic Surrogates, receive no additional payments and are often family members or close personal friends. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) established guidelines recommending how much surrogates should get paid.
Choosing An Appropriate Surrogate
Working with a surrogate is a long and complex process that can take 15 to 18 months or longer. Although it is possible to make private arrangements and even locate a surrogate on your own, Fertile Action highly recommends cancer survivors use the services of a reputable surrogacy agency. An agency pre-screens their applicants for reliability, reproductive health and psychological stability. Most agencies only accept surrogates who already carried healthy children to term.
An agency can also guide you along the path, be a liaison between you and the surrogate, help with insurance arrangements, recommend a good lawyer and be supportive along the way. Choosing an agency with which you are comfortable and confident is important. Some helpful websites in this regard include: http://donorconcierge.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-choose-surrogate.html and http://www.growinggenerations.com/surrogacy-program/intended-parents/agency-comparisons.
Additionally, specialized search consultants (http://donorconcierge.com/search-services) and attorney’s can ease the burden of the search process by accessing their personal network of agencies, helping you determine your decision criteria and locating profiles that meet your criteria. Consultants usually charge a flat fee and sometimes have pre-negotiated, discounted rates with surrogacy agencies.
Surrogacy and the Law
The legality of surrogacy in the United States is complex, confusing and frequently open to interpretation. An attorney specializing in reproductive law can help you become familiar with the surrogacy laws of your particular state (http://www.surrogacy.com/legals/states.html) as well as the laws of the state or country where your chosen surrogate resides. Fertile Action strongly recommends consulting with an attorney (http://www.aaarta.org/surrogacy.htm) early in your decision-making process.
Legal services relating to surrogacy vary depending upon location, but include:
If you opt to have the lawyer assist in locating an acceptable surrogate, services could include the following, in lieu of going through an agency and search consultant:
For a nationwide list of reproductive attorneys you can go to the member directory of the American Academy of Adoption attorneys located at: http://www.adoptionattorneys.org/directory_map.asp
Many attorneys offer an initial consultation at no charge and, once retained for a private search, will give the client a choice of being billed by the hour or opting for a flat fee. The following is a breakdown of the average cost areas and average fees for surrogacy. These figures vary widely by location, agency and type of surrogate.
International surrogacy from countries like India is becoming increasingly more popular as this option is often more affordable than the United States. However, one of the most important aspects of this option is ensuring your child is a United States citizen as naturalization laws are based on where a child is born, rather than where the child’s parents reside. A specialized attorney can help you navigate this process as well. There are agencies who specialize in this type of surrogacy.
Be sure to look at the surrogacy resources available.