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Could Your Surrogate Take the Baby Back?

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With infertility affecting nearly 15% of all individuals trying to conceive, it is not surprising that there are close to 800 births a year involving IVF or the help of a surrogate mother.

pregnant woman and couple standing

Karen Roeb: With proper guidance and information on the process, everything goes quite smoothly. Well, yes ... typically.

What intended parents and surrogates do not know is that only California and five other states are liberal enough to legally allow individuals and couples to enter into a surrogacy agreement.

Other states like Michigan have very strict laws prohibiting surrogacy contracts. Not only are these agreements held unenforceable by the state law, but anyone who enters into such a contract can be fined or sentenced to jail time.

It was not until a recent situation in Michigan, featured on a morning TV show and in a few major newspapers, that the whole world learned what can happen when a surrogacy goes bad. A surrogate mother carried twins for a Michigan couple, using donor sperm and eggs. During the adoption proceeding, the surrogate mother learned the intended mother had committed a felony nine years ago and was also diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, for which she had been treated. Initially, although quite upset, the surrogate mother agreed to hand the babies to the couple. A month later, she changed her mind.

Now, who is to keep the twins?

There are two major points to consider when pursuing surrogacy as prospective parents: Where the surrogate mother will deliver the baby, and having a contractually bound agreement between the parents and the surrogate.

It is quite important that the surrogate mother delivers in a surrogate-friendly state. The individuals and couples facing fertility challenges are already going through an emotional and financial process. A legal nightmare is the last thing any parent would want to face. Prospective parents need to research the laws of the state in which they intend to hire a surrogate mother, and also have a consultation with a third-party reproductive attorney licensed in that particular state. Taking shortcuts to save money, especially in our current economic environment, may seem appealing, but ultimately, may result in a very risky outcome. Your surrogacy journey needs to be protected by a legal document that is recognized and allowed by the state in which the surrogate resides, and where they will ultimately deliver.

Surrogacy arrangements that are protected by a legal agreement between the parties will provide both sides with psychological evaluations, background investigations, financial obligations, commitments to the process, and requirements of each unique surrogacy journey. This exchange of information, formalized by attorneys, is critical to the roles that both the parents and surrogate will play. In the case of the Michigan couple and their surrogate, no legal contract was provided, merely an oral agreement to which promises were made.

Surrogacy is an amazing process. A smooth surrogacy journey includes the understanding of any and all potential negative outcomes of an arrangement and facilitating solutions on how best to handle them. This way, one can easily avoid the rare mishaps that can arise, such as the recent situation with the parents in Michigan.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
jennifer January 13, 2010, 5:56 PM

I liked this article- I felt it was well balanced and very factual.

I am a surrogate, and it pains me to read things like this. There needs to be laws in place to protect intended parents, and no one should enter into this arrangement without full psych screening and legal contracts.

forchildren February 17, 2010, 2:02 PM

I think truthfullness has to be a factor and being a surrogate i think is a gift from God. I think its wonderful and all parties must be honest. Wow a mental disorder like this Intended Mom is serious I just read an article on here about a Texas mom who killed her two kids because of psychotic disorder. Good for the surrogate hope laws change across the board.

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