Growing a Family
Many prospective parents consider surrogacy or gamete donation because they can’t conceive and/or carry a child themselves. Thanks to advances in science and medicine, patients can receive donated eggs, sperm, or embryos, and surrogates can carry embryos related to one or both intended parents. However, what may be relatively simple scientifically can be relatively complicated psychologically and legally. Prior to embarking on an assisted reproduction journey, here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether this path is right for you.
- Is it important to have a child that is genetically related to one or both of you?
- How will it feel for each partner if the child is genetically related to only one of you?
- Have you considered adoption? Why do you prefer surrogacy/gamete donation to adoption?
- How will you feel about your child being carried in another woman’s body for 9 months? What is your support system to help you manage your feelings?
- Can you manage a surrogacy arrangement financially? (Most agencies tell intended parents to expect to spend approximately $100,000 on the surrogacy journey. The surrogate herself usually receives $20,000-$30,000 of that amount, but there are numerous additional medical, legal, and other costs. Using egg and/or sperm donors can add additional costs as well.)
- What are your concerns about using a surrogate? What are your concerns about using an egg donor or sperm donor?
- If you need a donor, do you want that donor to be anonymous? If not, what level of contact do you wish to have with the donor? What level of contact do you wish your child to have?
- What will you tell your employer, family, friends, and children about your assisted reproduction choices?
- How do you feel about abortion and reduction (when using IVF, the chances of achieving a multiples pregnancy are significantly higher, so it is important to examine your feelings about twins, triplets, etc.)
- How will you find/choose a donor or surrogate? What qualities of a surrogate are important to you?
- Take the time to fully explore these and any other questions or concerns prior to embarking on this journey. Some people find it helpful to talk through these issues with a therapist trained in third-party reproduction, or even to join a support group on this issue. It is often helpful to talk to others who have built their families through surrogacy and your therapist or IVF clinic may have access to former patients who are willing to share their stories.
Often, experienced attorneys are great resources to talk with at the beginning of the journey to help gain a better understanding of options and the pros and cons of each option related to the surrogate/donor relationship. Experienced attorneys often have networks of clinics, physicians, agencies, and therapists to assist you with your medical, financial, or psychological concerns as well.
You will also need to hire an attorney who is experienced in assisted reproduction law to draw up a contract that covers all aspects of the surrogacy arrangement, and who can advise you about legal issues related to the pregnancy and the birth/birth certificate. You will need advice on the surrogacy laws in your state, and information about how to move forward with identifying a surrogate or donor and clarifying the rights and responsibilities of all parties.
(This article is not intended as medical, psychological, or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Each family and agreement is unique, so you should hire a competent attorney to advise you specifically about your particular case.)