When a woman is unable to carry a baby to term for medical reasons, or when a same sex male couple would like to have biological children, it is possible to use a gestational surrogate. Thanks to the advances in IVF technology, these couples are able to create embryos using one or both partner’s genetic material through In Vitro Fertilization. The resulting embryo(s) can then be transferred to the uterus of a gestational surrogate who can carry the pregnancy to term.
Choosing a Gestational Surrogate
Gestational surrogacy involves a long commitment and unique relationship between the intended parents and the gestational surrogate. For this reason, it is important for patients to select a gestational carrier with whom they feel comfortable. To assess the compatibility between the intended parents and the surrogate, both parties may hold a number of interviews and meetings before an agreement is made to move forward.
Gestational surrogate should be between the ages of 21 and 35 and must have already delivered a live infant at full term. It is also important that the gestational surrogate have a strong support network (such as a spouse or supportive family members) that will be available throughout the pregnancy. All intended parents, gestational surrogates, and surrogate partners must undergo medical and psychological screening to ensure that there are no conditions present that may jeopardize the surrogate, the fetus, or the agreement.
Once a gestational carrier is selected and the screening process is complete, legal documents must be drawn up, specifying the rights and responsibilities of each party, as well as how disputes will be settled. Even if the carrier is someone who is known to the parents, such as a family member, these documents are imperative. It is advisable for the surrogate and the genetic parents to obtain separate legal counsel, in order to avoid a conflict of interest that would arise were one attorney to counsel both parties.