Questions to consider when using a surrogate – Part 2 of 2

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This is part two of a two-part series on surrogacy considerations.Surrogacy can be an extraordinary gift to help an individual or couples build their family. However, it is best if some security measures be employed to ensure that all parties have a positive experience. There are many issues to consider when entering into a surrogacy relationship. The topics below are by no means exhaustive, as every surrogacy relationship is different. Once again, we present you additional questions to consider when using a surrogate.

1. Is the surrogate married?
The surrogate might benefit by having the support of a husband or partner throughout the process. The surrogate’s partner may also need to agree to be tested for a sexually transmitted disease. The husband will also need to sign some of the legal documents.

2. Has she had other children?
It is required that the surrogate have carried a healthy child to term so that it is clear that the surrogate has the ability to have a normal pregnancy without complications, including preterm labor or birth.

3. What kind of lifestyle is she living?
Your surrogate is using her body to grow your child, so you want to choose one who will make the right daily choices for your baby. Ask your surrogate about her diet, fitness level, nicotine habits, and lifestyle choices such as drug and alcohol consumption before and during pregnancy to make sure you’re choosing a healthy surrogate for a healthy baby.

4. How old is the surrogate?
It is important that the surrogate is of legal age to consent to an agreement, but is also not of a more mature age that may create complications or risks in the surrogate pregnancy.

5. Is she emotionally stable?
Make sure that she is seen by a psychologist prior to any transfer of embryos to evaluate her emotional ability to be a surrogate. There should be a full psychological evaluation of the surrogate. The surrogate should also be seen by a psychologist throughout the pregnancy and up to two months after birth.

6. Does she have a history of STI’s?
STI’s can put the baby’s health at risk and should be evaluated prior to any transfer into the surrogate’s body.

7. Can you afford the cost of the agreement?
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? Multiple babies can increase the cost of the surrogate, as well as taking care of them after they are born, meaning multiple cribs, diapers, car seats, etc. Speaking of financial woes, using surrogacy to have a child is not an inexpensive undertaking. You’ll be responsible for paying the medical bills of the surrogate as well as any legal costs that might arise from the pregnancy. You want to make sure you have an accurate understanding of your financial obligation prior to beginning your journey.

8. What kind of relationship do you/she want to have?
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 before and during the pregnancy. 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 situations that they might want to consider. 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.

9. Is one parent biologically connected?
If either an egg donor or sperm donor are needed with a surrogate mother, be prepared for a far more complicated relationship both legally and psychologically. In Indiana, if the surrogate has any genetic relationship to the child(ren), the intended parents risk having her assert her parental rights and getting shared custody of the resulting child(ren). Also, if both donor egg and donor sperm are used then this creates more legal risk that the surrogate could assert parental rights in the child that she carried. Since neither the intended mother or intended father are genetically related, they are in no position to say that they have more rights to the child that the surrogate is carrying, other than claiming their “intent”. Indiana has had no disputes regarding any donor material so it is unclear how the court would decide such a situation.

10. What is the legal status of the relationship in the surrogate’s state?
It is crucial to get an independent legal consultation regarding the laws of the state where she resides. If there are any doubts about finalizing your parental rights, you should not proceed with that surrogate. You should also not proceed with a surrogate if she is planning on delivering the baby in another state because she could go into premature labor and this may not be possible. It is best that all parties have their own separate legal counsel to represent their best interests.

If you have questions about surrogacy or other family law matters, please contact Harden Jackson Law.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.