To fulfill their dream of becoming parents, same-sex couples often choose gestational surrogacy— a process by which a surrogate delivers a child conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) for a couple or individual. Because other countries limit surrogacy to married or heterosexual couples, many LGBT intended parents (IPs) seek services in the United States.
While surrogacy in the United States for heterosexual intended parents and same-sex intended parents is largely similar, there are a few factors that separate gay surrogacy from surrogacy for straight couples.
Choosing an Agency
The first step in the process is finding a surrogacy agency that offers support and guidance throughout the entire process. Keep in mind that while the decision can be daunting, you’ll want to do some research to help you make an informed choice. Remember, your final decision will affect you throughout your experience. So don’t be afraid to take some time when doing your initial search. An ideal agency is experienced, equipped with an on-staff legal team, open and honest, and flexible.
Matching is one of the aforementioned factors of surrogacy that differs for gay couples. It’s important to work with a gay-friendly surrogate and egg donor who are supportive in your journey toward parenthood. Although it depends on the surrogacy agency’s program as well as your specific needs, the average time for matching with a donor, clinic, and surrogate is between two and six months. You will also need to match with a surrogate who lives in a state where the laws complement your nation’s laws.
Choosing an IVF clinic is a major decision. It’s important to find a fertility clinic with good success rates, competitive financial packages, and experience in working with LGBT intended parents. Be sure that you feel comfortable with the staff and the facility’s overall environment. You’ll also want to choose a clinic in a state that has surrogacy-friendly laws. Your IVF clinic monitors your surrogate’s pregnancy up to the tenth week of gestation. At that point, she is released to her own OBGYN.
Prior to entering into a surrogacy arrangement, you should explore different health insurance plans to offset some of the financial risk. If your surrogate does not have insurance that covers surrogacy-related medical costs, you’ll want to purchase a plan to keep medical costs as low as possible.
It’s vital to consult with a lawyer who specializes in surrogacy for gay couples or gay parenting issues. Most surrogacy agencies work with such attorneys or have a legal team on staff to help you navigate the process and handle common legal procedures that affect same-sex intended parents. These include pre-birth orders, voluntary acknowledgements of paternity, court orders, and second-parent adoptions. You will want to make sure you have wills and estate planning in order, as well. Additional legal representation is provided through an agreement with your agency. You will need to negotiate agreements with your surrogate and egg donor, who are represented by separate counsel.
Expect to travel to the United States an average of two to four times during your surrogacy. These trips are meant for meeting the surrogate, attending the egg retrieval and the embryo transfer, and being present for the birth of your child. It’s important to know that you’ll be in the U.S. for two to four weeks after the baby is discharged from the hospital. This is the time in which your agency establishes your parental rights and obtains passports for you and your family to go home.
Most agencies will encourage you to connect with your surrogate on a weekly or monthly basis. Depending on what you’re comfortable with, you can Skype, call, text, or email. For intended parents who do not speak English, it’s best to get a translator. It’s also important to consider the time difference between you and your surrogate. To avoid communication blunders, create a schedule that works for everyone.
Gestational surrogacy opens up a world of opportunity to gay couples. Be sure to choose a full-service surrogacy agency that best fits your needs as intended parents. They are there to safely and efficiently help you navigate from conception to birth.
Author: Kayla Mossien is the communications coordinator and blogger at Circle Surrogacy.