Keeping It in the Family

Tips for intended parents who are considering a gestational carrier that is a friend or family member.

Choosing a gestational carrierChoosing a gestational carrier is a huge decision that takes many factors into consideration. However, most of the time it ultimately comes down to “what feels right.” Many intended parents choose a stranger for this journey, but others (for emotional, financial, or other reasons) prefer to use a friend or family member. Neither option is “right” or “wrong,” but here are some tips to consider when choosing a friend or family member to carry your baby.

Keep the contract.
Even though you may have known your gestational carrier for a long time, or even your whole life, it is still very important that you commit the details of the arrangement to writing and that everyone is clear on each other’s rights and obligations throughout the pregnancy.

Talk about the money.
Consider whether you are going to compensate your friend or family member in the same way that you would have compensated a stranger. Also work through financial aspects of the arrangement like who is responsible for health insurance co-pays, prescriptions, travel expenses, lost wages, or even assistance with housekeeping or childcare if the carrier is put on bed rest.

Open communication.
Evaluate your ability to communicate with this person and your history of managing discussions about sensitive topics. Ensure that you feel comfortable discussing personal and financial matters and that your prospective gestational carrier understands that you will likely be present for doctor’s appointments and have access to medical records that may compromise the gestational carrier’s privacy to some degree.

Future relationship with the child.
Reach an understanding about what the child will be told about the circumstances of his/her birth. Decide who will be allowed to discuss those topics with the child and who will decide when/if the child is ready to hear that information. Be sure that everyone is clear about what role the gestational carrier will play in the child’s life after the birth, and examine how the rest of the family will feel about the decisions you’ve made.  (For example, if Intended Mother’s sister carries the child, will the grandparents be able to understand/manage identifying the Intended Mother as mom and the sister/gestational carrier as “aunt.”)

Don’t ignore the spouse.
For gestational carrier who are married, their spouses must also agree to and sign off on the gestational carrier contract. It is very important, particularly if the gestational carrier’s spouse is also a friend or family member, that he/she be included in the discussions and that he/she is comfortable with all decisions. For some men, it is difficult to imagine their wives carrying a child that is genetically related to another man. In family surrogacy situations, the intended father may also be related to the gestational carrier’s spouse (for example, the intended father’s brother’s wife may be the gestational carrier, in which case the gestational carrier’s husband is coping with the notion that his wife is carrying his brother’s child, which can cause some emotional discomfort). Make sure you work through those dynamics before moving forward.

Beware of traditional gestational carriers.
North Carolina does not prohibit traditional surrogacy (where the gestational carrier carries her own egg fertilized with the sperm of the intended father or donor), but it can be extremely emotionally and legally challenging to engage in traditional surrogacy with a friend or family member. Before engaging in traditional surrogacy with a friend or family member, it is important that all parties obtain proper legal and medical advice.

(This article is not intended as 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.)