Surrogacy – How To Get Started?
Once you find the right lawyer, you start the process by having a consultation to answer some key questions:
- What clinic do you want to use?
- What’s important to you in your surrogate choice?
- What are your preferences regarding the relationship you will have with the surrogate?
- What are your medical views on difficult topics such as abortion, medical treatments, and vaccinations.
Once those questions are reviewed, we also discuss the expenses to ensure they can manage them.
From there, we look at the pool of surrogates in my practice. Unlike many other lawyers, I am a one-stop-shop. I find the surrogate for the family and legally represent them, but we get the surrogate her own attorney as well.
I personally interview all the surrogates we have. We do background checks, including flags for child abuse or criminal record, and talk to them about their views on life, medical opinions, and general outlook. I gather this information to introduce families to the surrogacy candidates.
Surrogacy Requirements In Florida
The surrogate candidate and the intended parents undergo a physical and psychological evaluation. The surrogate is more intensively assessed.
To qualify to be a surrogate mother in Florida, you must meet some basic requirements:
- Already have a child from an uncomplicated pregnancy.
- Demonstrate overall good health, with an acceptable body mass index (BMI).
- Be a U.S. citizen, green card holder, or other valid immigration status allowing you to remain in this country.
- Generally, the surrogate’s evaluation also involves a multi-phasic personality disorder test (MPPI).
The couple has to be healthy too. The FDA has medical guidelines for the materials implanted in the surrogate. For example, if the husband has Hepatitis C or a similar disease, it’s highly unlikely to be transmitted from the embryo to the surrogate. The surrogate could waive this requirement and agree to use the sperm. There are ways around those things.
The couple’s screening is more of a conference between the couple and the surrogate to ensure they are on the same page with challenging topics, like abortion. A psychologist usually addresses the issue by discussing hypothetical situations. For example, they might ask, “Say there is a medical complication and it’s a choice between the surrogate’s life or the baby’s life…Whose life do you choose?”
Some couples are surprised by the evaluation results, but it depends on which psychologist they see. As long as the couple doesn’t have a criminal or child abuse background, I don’t care how they plan to raise the child – it’s their business. Some psychologists think differently. They seem to enjoy the power of deciding who should and shouldn’t have a baby. I don’t work with those so into it that they act as God, deciding who can have a child.
Couples can be frustrated by these psychologists. Their doctor may have a favorite psychologist and send them to that psychologist or whatever language. I try to steer my clients towards the psychologists doing what’s recommended by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (ASRM).
I write my contracts very straightforward, using plain English or Spanish – whatever language the parties speak—but they cover everything. For example, what if the couple goes down in a plane crash before the baby is born? Who gets the baby? We set up a guardianship designation for this. What if the surrogate is in an accident, on life support, at just 27 weeks of pregnancy? The doctor says she is brain dead, but they could keep her alive for another couple of weeks gestation. For this instance, we have the surrogate establish a living will so her significant other will keep her alive in the worst-case scenario.
When people walk into surrogacy, they have no idea. They are not thinking about the tough hard questions that could come up that these contracts address. The surrogate must be advised to have her own attorney, and the couple will pay for it. She has the right to waive the representation as well.
For more information on Initiating the Surrogacy Process in Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (561) 330-6700 today.