Being a gestational carrier might be one of the most selfless acts someone can do for another. The gestational carrier (surrogate) offers her body to serve as a vessel in order for a family to grow. During the pregnancy, some gestational carriers and intended parents become like family, forming a friendship that goes far beyond the original bond.
Alternatively, the parties may be more distant, treating the process like a business arrangement. After all, the relationship between a gestational carrier and the intended parents is, at its core, a contractual one. There are legal ramifications to the actions of both parties to a gestational carrier arrangement, and each has responsibilities and duties to the other.
What will a lawyer do that I can’t?
First and foremost, an attorney is there to ensure that the contractual relationship is legal and enforceable under California law. California has some of the most liberal surrogacy laws in the nation, and some say in the world. That is likely why people from other countries come here to find gestational carriers.
Each party to a surrogacy – both the intended parent or parents and the gestational carrier herself – should have their own legal representation. This ensures adequate protection of everyone’s rights, including those of the unborn child. Furthermore, it’s required by state statute.
What arrangement is best for me?
The contractual surrogacy arrangement you enter into (either as a gestational carrier or an intended parent) is unique to your situation. Before signing, there are many things to consider, including:
- Will the surrogate receive compensation outside of standard medical costs?
- Will the surrogate be expected to initially cover costs like co-pays, deductibles, and prescription medications and then seek reimbursement, or will the intended parents pay upfront?
- Will the gestational carrier have any lasting relationship with the child, or does her involvement end upon birth?
- Will the surrogate, for an additional fee above and beyond costs directly associated with carrying and delivering the baby, provide pumped breast milk? If so, for how long?
These are only a few of the many complex issues that must be decided prior to the surrogacy process beginning. Your attorney will be able to answer your questions, address your concerns, and advocate for your rights throughout the process, whether you are a gestational carrier or an intended parent.