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Can A Surrogate Keep The Baby

by Lyndon Langley
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Can A Surrogate Keep The Baby

Can A Surrogate Keep The Baby

You’re pregnant with your partner’s baby, but you can’t have children because you both suffer from infertility issues. Or maybe there are health problems in your family that make surrogacy necessary for conception. Whatever the reason, many people choose to go through with it — even if they don’t plan on keeping the baby themselves or giving birth at home. For some women, this means hiring a gestational carrier who will carry their babies until delivery, while others pay someone else to adopt their own kids once the pregnancy is over.
Surrogacy laws vary by state, but generally speaking, only the intended parents (parent 1) have any legal rights to the unborn fetus. Parent 2, the surrogate, may provide support during the pregnancy and also take care of the newborn after the fact, but legally, parent 1 is considered the real father. Likewise, parent 2 isn’t considered the legal mother; her role is purely supportive. This arrangement does allow for more flexibility than traditional adoption, since the surrogate doesn’t need to find an adoptive parent herself. However, it also leaves open questions about what happens when the surrogate decides to abort or give up the baby for adoption. If parent 2 were allowed to remain involved in these decisions, would that violate the very purpose of surrogacy? Would the surrogate’s rights as an independent person trump those of the intended parents? And how much input should the surrogate have? These are all things to consider before becoming a surrogate parent yourself.
The following rules-of-thumb guide is meant to help prospective surrogates weigh their options. It assumes that the parties want to proceed with the surrogacy, that the intended parents’ medical conditions fall under acceptable circumstances for surrogacy, and that the surrogate understands the risks associated with carrying another person’s child. Most importantly, it assumes that the surrogate wants to do whatever she feels comfortable doing later on down the line. As such, this article won’t discuss situations where the surrogate agrees to terminate the pregnancy against her wishes, whether out of moral opposition or religious beliefs. We’ll assume here that the choice was hers alone.
In general, we recommend consulting an attorney experienced with fertility law and surrogacy cases. You can use our online resources directory to search attorneys in your area. Your best bet for advice is to talk to an attorney familiar with your particular case, however, rather than relying solely on information found elsewhere on the Internet.
If you decide to become a surrogate, you must first agree to the terms of the contract between you and the intended parents. Some contracts include stipulations regarding the type of abortion you can obtain, whether you can work around your religion, and so on. You should carefully read each agreement you sign, ask questions, and seek legal counsel before signing anything.
Once you’ve agreed upon everything with the intended parents, you’ll need to get tested for STDs, including HIV. In most states, you’ll probably have to undergo blood tests every six months throughout the duration of your pregnancy, though this varies depending on the intended parents and the nature of your relationship. You’ll also need to fill out a form called a “WADE,” which stands for Willingness to Accept Disclosure. This gives the intended parents permission to disclose certain facts to potential donors, like your age, weight, height, ethnicity, lifestyle, medical history, and family history. This document serves two purposes: First, it allows potential donors to know exactly what kind of physical characteristics they’re getting into, so they aren’t surprised later on. Second, it helps to weed out unsuitable candidates.
Next, you’ll need to inform your employer, insurance company, and financial institution about your situation. They might require additional forms and paperwork, but they’ll usually understand if you can’t comply fully due to your contractual obligations.
As mentioned earlier, the intended parents retain full control over the pregnancy and its outcome, unless otherwise specified in your contract. That said, you should try to maintain some level of contact with the intended parents throughout the pregnancy. Even if you aren’t physically present, the phone number of the intended parents’ doctor should be listed on your Wade document.
When you deliver the baby, you’ll surrender custody to the intended parents immediately. Their pediatrician will then determine the baby’s gender and assign him/her a last name. He/she will also schedule routine checkups and well-baby exams, just like other infants, within the next few weeks.
Your job as a surrogate ends once the baby is born. You’ll still have parental responsibilities, but the bulk of your duties revolve around feeding, cleaning, changing diapers, and taking the infant to his/her appointments.
Most people assume that being a surrogate mom is free of charge. But this isn’t always the case. There are costs involved in maintaining the pregnancy, including prenatal visits, lab fees, medication, hospital bills, and lost wages. Typically, the intended parents foot the bill. Sometimes, however, the surrogate pays for expenses related to food, housing, transportation, and daycare.
One thing that you shouldn’t worry about is losing money based on the amount of time you spend pregnant. The courts typically calculate compensation using a set formula, which takes into account factors such as length of gestation, expected date of delivery, complications, etc. The court simply plugs in numbers and awards a flat rate per week, regardless of the actual hours spent in labor.
Finally, remember that surrogacy involves huge personal stakes. You may feel conflicted about agreeing to bring someone else’s child into the world without ever meeting him/her. The intended parents, too, may agonize over having to go through with the process. To minimize feelings of guilt and regret, it’s important to come to an understanding early on about how you both intend to deal with the aftermath.

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