The surrogacy process is complex and there are many moving parts to understand. Agencies which match surrogates with Intended Parents can help you navigate the process. Here is a step-by-step guide of the surrogacy process, which may vary according to your state laws.
1. Is Surrogacy the Right Choice for You?
If you are experiencing infertility, you have most likely been in consistent contact with your physician to determine the cause of your infertility. Speaking with various professionals (physicians, therapists, attorneys, etc.) may help you understand and decide if it is right for you.
2. Starting the Process.
Once a prospective surrogate or intended parent has decided to commit to surrogacy, they must then determine their goals and needs of the surrogacy and the type of surrogacy professional they want to work with.
There are two types of surrogacy:
- Traditional – In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is also the biological mother of the child she carries. Her egg is fertilized using sperm from the intended father or a donor using intrauterine insemination (IUI). Traditional surrogacy is not commonly utilized anymore.
- Gestational – In gestational surrogacy, the child is not biologically related to the surrogate mother. The embryo is instead created using an egg from the intended mother or a donor and sperm from the intended father or a donor using in vitro fertilization (IVF). Once the egg is fertilized in the laboratory, the embryo is transferred to the surrogate.
Next, there are two types of surrogacy professionals who can complete your surrogacy:
- Surrogacy Agency – May provide any or all surrogacy services, including matching, screening, case management, support, counseling, legal services and more.
- Surrogacy Attorney – A surrogacy attorney will draft the necessary documents between the IPs and the surrogate and perform the necessary post-birth legal paperwork to finalize the legal rights of the IPs to the child.
3. Matching IPs with a Surrogate.
Surrogacy agencies (such as the Hawaii Surrogacy Center) typically perform matching services.
If the Intended Parent(s) have already located their surrogate, then they can start working with Fertility Connections to start the paperwork. Many Intended Parent(s) will work with a surrogacy agency to match them with a surrogate. Agencies will take profiles of all parties involved and develop a surrogacy plan. Many factors are involved in matching IPs with a surrogate, and agencies are experienced in coordinating an appropriate match.
4. Satisfy Legal Requirements
Once a surrogate and Intended Parent(s) are matched, it’s time to make it official by drafting a legal contract (also called a Gestational Carrier Agreement). The surrogate (and her spouse) and the Intended Parent(s) will each have their own attorneys to ensure that their legal interests are properly represented and protected and to ensure the parties fully understand the terms of the contract.
Each party will meet with their own lawyer separately to review the contract, make any edits/corrections and sign it. Once the contract is signed, the parties return to the physician and the embryo transfer process can begin.
Once the embryo transfer process begins and pregnancy is confirmed, the parties will typically be working with their physician to monitor the embryo and fetus through gestation. Toward the last trimester of pregnancy, the parties will generally return to meet with their attorneys to begin preparing the post-birth legal paperwork necessary to finalize the birth paperwork.
6. Post-Birth Legal Documents.
Hawaii does not recognize pre-birth parentage orders. Instead, the parties must pursue “finalization” through a post-birth parentage order. The type of post-birth paperwork needed will depend on your precise situation. Intended Parents will need to ensure that each of them are legally declared the “parent” of the child and the birth certificate may need to be reissued with the names of the Intended Parents. Depending on your situation, a second-parent adoption proceeding may be necessary.
Fertility Connections can assist with preparing your Gestational Carrier Agreement and finalizing all necessary post-birth legal documentation. Please contact us to discuss your specific situation and we can guide you through the ins and outs of your surrogacy journey!