A lot of paperwork goes into a surrogacy arrangement. It can feel overwhelming. If you’re a surrogate, you’ll start with an online surrogate application. If you’re a parent, you’ll start with an intended parent interest form.
Once you’re matched, you’ll need to have a surrogacy contract (called a “Carrier Agreement” here at Circle). Let’s go over why signing a surrogacy agreement is a vital part of protecting your interests and ensuring that everything goes smoothly in your surrogacy journey.
1. Outline local laws. There’s a patchwork of surrogacy laws in the United States. Each state determines its own family law, which includes surrogacy. Your contract should give an overview (a recital) of the law in the state where the child will be delivered and the plan for how the rights of the intended parents will be secured. It should also talk about the law of the state or country where the intended parents reside.
2. Clarify financial issues. When are payments made? Who handles the financial coordination? How much is each payment? What additional fees are possible? Are the fees held securely in an escrow account? Whether you’re working with a full-service surrogacy agency or going the independent route, make sure the contract answers these key money questions.
3. Make sure everyone is on the same page about medical decisions. Surrogacy, like any pregnancy, carries some uncertainty with it. Intended parents and surrogates should be on the same page with regard to the issues of abortion and selective reduction, the number of embryos that will be transferred. The contract is the place to make sure these issues are out in the open and agreed upon.
4. Coordinate timing and travel. Full-service surrogacy agencies can coordinate your travel, appointments, and schedules. But your contract should include an overview of your plan. How long do you plan on working together? Do you have any timing restrictions? For how many cycles do you plan to work together if you’re not successful on the first attempt? Will the intended parents travel to appointments?
5. Plan for medical bills. Some surrogates have health insurance that can be used to cover the costs associated with a surrogate pregnancy. Make sure the policy is reviewed by an experienced legal team. In other cases, intended parents purchase a policy designed for surrogacy. Your contract should talk about how medical bills will be handled.
6. Address confidentiality concerns. Your contract should outline your intentions for your relationship with your surrogate. Circle Surrogacy encourages open and honest relationships between intended parents and surrogates. But it’s useful to address your plans for future contact as well as correspondence during the surrogacy process. And since medical information will be exchanged, the contract should state that HIPAA privacy rules will be followed.
These are just a few of the many reasons you need a surrogacy contract. Whether you go through a full-service surrogacy agency, or pursue an independent surrogacy arrangement, make sure you are represented by a knowledgeable attorney who can help negotiate for you and represent your interests.
photo credit: steakpinball via photopin cc