Nothing is more gratifying than helping clients become parents after they have faced considerable obstacles. A. C. Howard Law is sensitive to the needs of vulnerable clients who, individually, or with a partner, are eager to build their own family and must enlist the help of others to do so. We understand the emotional toll that the journey through surrogacy or assisted reproduction can exact, and we are committed to helping reduce the stress and strain associated with the process.
If your doctor has recommended assisted reproduction, A. C. Howard Law can help you understand the legal details of sperm donation, egg donation, embryo donation, and surrogacy.
If you are a woman looking for representation before you sign a surrogacy or egg donation contract, A. C. Howard Law can assist you. We have represented over 300 families, gestational carriers and ova donors and we know exactly what terms and conditions should be present in a contract to ensure neither party is exploited or treated unfairly.
Do I have to use a matching agency?
No, but I strongly recommend that you do. A good matching agency will act like a concierge, helping both parties throughout the process. The agency helps intended parents find trustworthy surrogates or egg donors who have been psychologically screened and who have the same views as they do about abortion, carrying triplets, and email updates after delivery of the child. The agency also helps surrogates get their medical and insurance paperwork squared away. If the intended parents worry that the surrogate is not eating right, the matching agency can delicately handle the situation. If the surrogate finds the intended parents overly pushy, the matching agency knows how to resolve such disputes. Lawyers charge considerably more to help with these types of services than matching agencies do.
How does surrogacy work in California?
- The intended parents have embryos created through their own, or donated, ova and sperm.
- The intended parents select a surrogate, usually with the help of a matching agency.
- Each party gets his or her own attorney (although the intended parents will pay the legal fee for the surrogate’s attorney) and negotiates a contract describing the agreement. The contract will address compensation, insurance coverage, bed rest, abortion, selective reduction, maternity clothing, post-delivery visitation, presence in the delivery room, and much more.
- The contract is signed and notarized, insurance for the surrogate is put in place, and the intended parents usually deposit money into a trust fund to provide for unexpected medical emergencies.
- A doctor transfers the intended parents’ embryo to the surrogate’s uterus.
- At 12 weeks of pregnancy, the lawyers request a court order instructing the hospital to list the intended parents, not the surrogate, on the birth certificate when the child is born.
- At about 24 weeks of pregnancy, the court order is granted and signed by a judge. Then the court order is sent to the hospital, and the official hospital records manager is duly notified.
- At birth, the child will be given a wrist-identification band that matches the intended parents. The intended parents will be treated the same as any other parents: they will have full access to their child, day or night. When the child is able to leave the hospital, the intended parents take the child home.
- If the intended parents live in another country, they will wait for the child’s birth certificate to be printed (about 15 days after delivery) and then get a passport for their child (about three days later if the hospital is in a large city where same-day passports are printed). Matching agencies can help with these international logistics.
What does the egg donation process entail?
- If a doctor recommends you work with an egg donor but you do not have a personal friend or relative who is willing to donate her eggs, your doctor will likely suggest you contact a matching agency.
- Once you find an egg donor you feel would be a good fit, the matching agency will help you negotiate a reasonable compensation amount. In California, compensating an egg donor for her time and effort for undergoing egg retrieval is permitted and does not hinge on how many ova are collected, if any.
- Next, you meet with a lawyer who will write up a contract for you. A different lawyer should read it over with the egg donor. Most intended parents cover the cost of both lawyers.
- Once everyone signs the contract, the doctor will have the egg donor undergo a 10-minute outpatient retrieval procedure. The doctor takes ova from the follicles on her ovaries, which have been stimulated by medication. A successful retrieval results in 5-20 ova.
When you are ready to proceed, A. C. Howard Law will draft the contract you need to work with an egg donor, sperm donor, embryo donor, or surrogate (also known as a gestational carrier). In addition, all surrogacy contracts in California require a “judgment of parentage” to ensure that your name is on the birth certificate when your child is born. We have years of experience filing throughout California and working with many different matching agencies and IVF clinics, so our law office can help take the stress and worry out of this legal process.
If you are considering surrogacy or egg donation and would like to discuss your specific situation, please contact A. C. Howard Law for a free 25-minute consultation.