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GESTATIONAL CARRIER, SURROGACY AND EMBRYO DONATION

While traditional adoption of an infant or older child may be the best option for some families, others find the risks and uncertainties of the adoption process too overwhelming.  These families may want to consider using a traditional surrogate or gestational carrier to help complete their family.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) provides new and exciting opportunities for family building.  Once considered to be a process that was only available to the very wealthy, gestational carrier and surrogacy arrangements have become readily available throughout the United States, and specifically in Florida.

Although still likely to cost quite a bit more than the average adoption, the costs for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) have been steadily declining in recent years, and more health insurance plans are covering these expenses, making this a more affordable option for many families.

To determine if one of these arrangements might be right for you, it helps to understand the differences between the ART’s processes that might be available.

 

Traditional Surrogacy

Traditional Surrogacy is also called “Preplanned Adoption” in Florida.  This arrangement involves the artificial insemination of a volunteer or paid surrogate who agrees to create a pregnancy in this manner using her own eggs.  The sperm used for the traditional surrogacy can come from an intended father or from a third party donor.

This type of procedure is less expensive than the gestational carrier arrangement, but carries with it some of the risks of traditional adoption because the surrogate has parental rights that must be terminated, in order for custody of the child to be exclusively with the Intended Parents.  In this type of arrangement, if the Intended Parents are a couple, then it will be necessary to process a step parent adoption in favor of the non-biological spouse or a second parent adoption if the non-biological Intended Parent is not married to the biological Intended Parent.

 

Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational Carrier arrangements, also sometimes called Gestational Surrogacy is an arrangement using IVF to implant an embryo belonging to the Intended Parent(s) into the gestational carrier (or gestational surrogate) who typically receives compensation for her services as a carrier for the intended parent(s). If the embryo was created using genetic material from at least one of the intended parents if they are a married heterosexual couple, no adoption is necessary and a simple legal procedure to affirm the parental status of the intended parents allows the birth certificate to be corrected without requiring the intended parents to even go to court. If the Intended Parents are not married, or are a same sex couple, affirmation of parentage is not utilized and a separate legal process will be used to establish parental rights.

If a donated embryo or adopted embryo is used, then an adoption proceeding will be necessary, but typically a much simpler and straight forward process than traditional adoption.

 

EMBRYO ADOPTION

There are hundreds of thousands of cryo-preserved embryos in the United States today.  Most of the embryos belong to couples or individuals who have discontinued IVF procedures for their own family creation, but are not willing to authorize the destruction of the embryos.

Many of these embryos may be available for “adoption” by couples who cannot use, or do not wish to use, their own embryos with a gestational carrier.  Intended parents interested in adopting an embryo will need to complete an adoption Home Study including criminal and child abuse clearances. Once approved, the intended parents will have the opportunity to consider medical and genetic information regarding different “embryo matches” that might be appropriate for them.  We can refer you to one of the many reputable agencies that handle the “adoption” of embryos.

 

GESTATIONAL CARRIERS AND SURROGATES

Ordinarily, intended parents look for surrogates or gestational carriers between the ages of 24-34, who have had at least one successful pregnancy with little or no complications. Surrogates and gestational carriers must be screened both medically and psychologically to insure that proceeding with the surrogacy plan will be a positive experience for her and for the Intended Parent(s).  They will expect the surrogate or gestational carrier to refrain from use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs and risky behavior during the process, and to cooperate in receiving regular pre-natal care.

Although gestational carriers and traditional surrogates typically receive reasonable compensation for providing this assistance to Intended Parents, the best surrogates are motivated primarily by the desire to help build a family, and not by the desire to receive financial compensation.

It is important for prospective surrogates to discuss their plans with family members and friends to insure that there will be solid emotional support for the surrogacy, particularly from spouses, significant others and children.

If you are interested in becoming a surrogate or a gestational carrier, you should contact our office for additional detailed information on how the process works.