It’s homework time people. Nobody likes it; nobody wants to read it, but you HAVE TO READ YOUR CONTRACT! Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. Everything you ever wanted, needed, and never even though of knowing is in there. It’s the Rosetta stone of surrogacy and I’m talking to EVERYONE here. Surrogates, egg donors, and intended parents alike. If you think of absolutely any questions whatsoever, I promise you will find the answer in your contract.
“Hey, my surrogate wants to go cross country skiing, can she do that?”
The answer is in there! I’m not kidding. And by the way answer is no.
Fertility lawyers need to think of every situation and every solution.
“Can I have sex after a transfer?” Or
“Is organic food reimbursable?” Or
“Who pays the insurance copays?” Or
“Does the surrogate have a right to see our baby after she gives birth?”
It’s funny, the questions you think of after entering a legally binding situation, stuff that never would have occurred to you before this crazy journey began. But you know what? You are in no way the first to think of these questions, so ask away. Your attorney will gladly give you the page number of your personalized contract that will tell you all you need to know.
Before you’ve even put pen to paper your lawyer will have told you so much. They’ll have gone over every single page with you. You’ll have tweaked it here and there and it’ll have gone back and forth between law firms. There is a lot of legislation to do with surrogacy and that’s a good thing, even if it is tedious. And you know what? You won’t remember most of it. There is no way, unless you have a photographic memory, you will know what and where you read that certain line that you now need to know. And that’s ok too. You’ll have a copy that will become your best friend. Your own personal bible, your treasure map, so to speak. Do you want your stress levels to go down and your anxiety to melt away? Then read your contract! It will guide you through with the comforting reassurance that can only come from the law. Knowing your rights and staying well informed from beginning to end makes for such a smoother journey. Trust me, I know. I’ve read these things from cover to cover multiple times. They make for great bedtime stories. Not only because it’ll probably put you to sleep, but also because you will sleep so much easier once those nagging questions have been answered.
I feel like the old school mistress looking down her glasses, pointing a ruler at you and telling you to “Pay Attention!” But seriously I mean it. I don’t want to boss you around or tell you what to do. It’s just the Mom in me wanting what’s fair and best for everyone. You see, the more informed you are the better you feel. The better you feel the smoother things go. The smoother things go the better the chances of that cute little baby in the picture with its new parents. Get it?
…Now go and wash your hands, it’s flu season. And bundle up warm, it’s cold outside (well unless you are here in California, it’s gorgeous here 😉
Have you heard about this? A gynecologist in India has been charged with human trafficking and forgery after selling a baby using fake surrogacy papers. He and his “clients” have been making the international headlines for the past couple of months and it looks as if this has been going on for some time now. Dr. Bharat Atit, along with three of his staff, were arrested and booked after it was discovered that a newborn baby had been illegally sold via the Doctor by a woman and her boyfriend. Now they are investigating previous claims and more cases are coming to light.
The woman involved, claimed rape towards her boyfriend when she was 5 months pregnant. It was discovered that she had done this because they were arguing over the price of the child and she is to use this claim to cut the boyfriend’s percentage. Once this was found out she dropped the charges, however, this opened the investigation to that of the Doctor.
This newest scandal involving surrogacy in India raises the issue of legality when it comes to these delicate waters. India has had issues before dealing with the health and treatment of their surrogates during prenatal care and the backgrounds of the women that were being used.
India was a place that was considered to be “a great deal” to go to for people looking to start an “inexpensive” family which made it easy for some, to turn a blind eye to the murkiness involved. However, with these new legal issues piled on top of the old health ones, they may be losing their drawing power for even those with lesser morals.
First, it is used as a method of human trafficking. Second, the surrogates are treated like cattle. Yes, it is cheaper, but at what cost? This is a child we are discussing. A child carried by a person no less important or critical to the process than the intended parent. Having a child when you physical aren’t able to is tricky enough, without weighing on your conscience as well. People are now coming to realize it’s not worth the gamble of saving money. This is a child we are talking about and ensuring that child has the best start in life starts at conception.
Overall, India doesn’t seem to present a viable option for surrogacy now to those who were able to justify their means to an end before.
As I am doing research for this blog I have also just learned that India has now implemented new guidelines this year which no longer allow foreigners of same-sex couples, single individuals, unmarried couples or couples who have been married less than two years to commission a surrogate there. Also, if you did qualify to utilize their surrogacy programs, you would still be required to provide a letter from your countries government expressly giving you permission to bring your child home from India and that your country would agree to recognize this child as a product of a surrogacy pregnancy and birth.
I think the chapter on surrogacy in India is closing, and very quickly. After everything, it is my opinion this is for the best.
What many people don’t realize is that with surrogacy, there are many steps to take before you can even start trying to become pregnant.
A woman who wishes to become a surrogate fills out a super long, in-depth application; gets checked out physically and mentally; and has her background checked to make sure she isn’t really the missing Anastasia. Then she waits to hear back from the agency for the green light.
If she’s cleared, she’s put in a database with other women in the same situation and waits to be chosen by an Intended Parent (IP). It’s up to the agency to find and match suitable surrogates with IPs. You want to be on this journey with someone you get along or “click” with. This is very important and sometimes it’s an instantaneous click and sometimes it’s not. Even if a woman has been a surrogate before she still has to go through this process each time she re-applies.
Once this stage of the process is complete–and it can take months to get matched–she steps into the legal process. A legal contract for both parties to review is provided by the IP’s lawyer and reviewed with the surrogate by her lawyer. Luckily, SAI works with specially trained fertility-law specialists who know what they are doing and have been doing it for decades. However, the law is the law. There are mountains of paperwork which are a necessary evil (and a good sleeping aid) to get through.
After everything is all legal eagle–which can take a month or more–it’s time to either match up cycles with the egg donor or IP (if using fresh embryos) or straight on to the poking and prodding (if the IPs have frozen embryos). Either way, this is part of the journey usually takes another month and is full of fun things like vaginal ultrasounds, peeing in a cup, different hormonal injections and daily medication. When using a gestational surrogate, the body must be “tricked” into thinking it’s pregnant so it won’t reject a foreign embryo. Hooray for science! But again… it’s the wait is about another month or so.
In my personal experience, these three steps can take anywhere from 3-6 months’ time to achieve pregnancy, if it works on the 1st go round. Patience is a virtue and the rewards are well worth it in the end. So as Dori from Finding Nemo would say: “Just keep swimming”…….You’ll get there.