A couple share their surrogacy story with public television’s Emily Rooney of Greater Boston in this 3-minute clip.
Illinois is one of the most progressive states for gays and lesbians to contract with gestational surrogates. Legislature dictates that when a child is born through gestational surrogacy, the intended parent(s) have sole custody and full parental rights immediately upon the child’s birth. This allows the intended parent(s) to circumvent the entire adoption process, and also prevents the surrogate carrier from asserting a legal claim to the baby.
Illinois requires that one of the intended parents be genetically related to the child. If either of the intended parents donates his or her own genetic material (i.e. an intended mother is the egg donor or an intended father is the sperm donor), then both intended parents have equal custody and full parental rights from the moment the child is born.
The state does not have a residency requirement for intended parents or surrogate carriers, so Illinois is an ideal place for a child carried through gestational surrogacy to be born. Intended parents who live in communities with less favorable surrogacy laws should consider selecting a gestational carrier who is able to give birth in Illinois.
Source: The American Surrogacy Center
The Washington legislature approves surrogacy as a lawful option for prospective parents.
Gays and lesbians are welcome to benefit from surrogacy too. The Washington Department of Health’s Center for Health Statistics (CHS) reports that surrogate parenting arrangements have been successfully completed by gay couples and singles.
Pennsylvania currently has no laws or upper level court decisions that directly address surrogate parenting or the enforceability of a surrogate parenting agreement.
As a matter of fact, a growing number of people, including gays and lesbians, have successfully brought children into their families through surrogacy in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania courts have upheld the rights of gays and lesbians to use gestational surrogacy in particular. In one case, a pre-birth order was issued to a lesbian couple, where one partner served as the egg donor and the other served as the gestational carrier. Both women were listed as the legal parents on their child’s birth certificate.
In a 2004 decision, a Pennsylvania court ruled that a single gay man was the sole legal parent of twins, who were conceived in vitro using his sperm and an egg from a third-party donor. The embryos were then implanted in a gestational carrier.
In most instances – and in many counties – Pennsylvania is a very good place in which to do gestational surrogacy.
Source: The American Surrogacy Center
Intended parents are required to complete a questionnaire which introduces him/her/them to the potential surrogate mother. The following questions may be included on your questionnaire:
Name and Age:
When and where were you born?
Where were you raised?
How many siblings do you have?
What order were you born? (youngest, eldest, only child?)
Is your mother living? Is your father living? Are all your siblings living? If not, at what age did they pass away?
List the gender and ages of any children you have and whether the children are from previous relationships:
Do you have legal and physical custody of all the above children? If no, please explain?
Does your family know of your plans for surrogacy? Are they supportive?
What is your occupation?
What is your educational background?
What are your hobbies?
Do you or have you ever:
Use narcotics or marijuana?
Have you ever been incarcerated for any reason?
Have you ever been in the military?
Have you ever, or are you now, under the care of a psychiatrist or counselor?
Have you ever been hospitalized for psychiatric care?
Have you had any significant or life threatening illnesses? What and when? Are you healthy now?
Are you currently in a relationship?
How long have you been with your partner?
How did you meet each other?
Where do you live?
Where is your home located? (city, the suburbs, or the country?)
How long have you lived there? Do you own or rent?
Please describe in detail what your home looks like. Describe size, a short description of the lay out, how many bedrooms it has, and how your home makes you feel:
Is your home located in reasonable distance from schools and parks and locations that children would enjoy?
If you have a faith or religious belief system, please describe:
How active are you in your faith or religious belief system? (church, bible-studies)
What are your family traditions for holidays and birthdays? (which ones do you celebrate, how do you celebrate, how involved is the extended family)
How does your family handle conflict or disagreements?
What are your reasons for choosing surrogacy?
How long have you wanted to do a surrogacy and when did you start looking for a surrogate mother?
Are you seeking gestational surrogacy or traditional, and why?
What procedure do you prefer to have used for conception, clinic, or home insemination if using Traditional Surrogacy?
What are your desires regarding being present during the birth of your child?
Please describe your parter. Describe his/her personality, what you like about him/her the most, what you might not like about him/her (if anything):
Describe what your partner looks like to you:
Describe your parter’s personality, from your point of view:
What kind of a parent will your parent be?
How do you feel about the surrogate staying in your home during conception and the pregnancy?
Is your family able to meet the financial needs of covering the surrogacy costs such as medical, legal, living expenses?
What expectations do you have regarding coverage of medical care, conception, legal expenses, clothing, and room & board for your surrogate?
If your doctor recommended an amniocentesis, how would you feel about this and would you want the SM to consent?
What are your views regarding abortion in the event that a baby is conceived and then is determined by a physician to have birth defects?
How many attempts would you be willing to try in order to conceive a child?
Are you willing to accept twins or triplets if a multiple birth occurred?
How do you envision your role during the pregnancy of your surrogate? Do you see yourself heavily involved in the pregnancy?
What do you think of filming and taking pictures from the time you meet your surrogate until the birth? How do you feel about filming and taking pictures of the birth of your child?
What amount of contact do you want with the surrogate once your child arrives? (pictures, letters, visits, phone calls)
What information do you plan on giving the child about the surrogacy once the child is older? What age do you plan on giving the child this information?
If your surrogate completes a successful surrogacy for you, and you become a parent, do you think you will want a sibling for your child? If yes, would you be likely to want to use the same surrogate?
What are your plans for childcare after the child is born? (daycare, stay at home mom or dad)
If the transfer or inseminatin fails, how soon would you want to try again?
If a surrogacy doesn’t work out, what do you plan to do next?
Boston’s Circle Surrogacy sponsored a seminar in at the New York City GLBT Community Center called “Men Having Babies”. See highlights of the meeting in this 5-minute clip.
Since 1993, state law says that surrogate parenting agreements in New York are void, unenforceable and against public policy. So the safest way for a New Yorker who’s interested in gestational surrogacy, gestational surrogacy with an egg donor or traditional surrogacy is to go outside of the state.
The intended parent(s) should work with agencies and contract with surrogates (from states other than New York) where surrogacy is legal. Names should be put on birth certificates before birth out-of-state. The new parents can bring the child back to New York and obtain their second or step parent adoption in New York state.
By the way, there are no instances in which individuals have been prosecuted for violation of New York law, nor have any fertility clinics, attorneys or agencies been held to be in violation of this law.
Source: The American Surrogacy Center
Some believe public controversy over surrogate motherhood is accelerating. Sometimes women who choose to bear children voluntarily for someone else are seen as cold and mercenary, because they seem to so easily “give away their babies”. Some believe it’s reprehensible because it represents a “rejection” of the infant by its biological mother.
Although critics have been vocal, there is little actual data to substantiate these claims. The American Surrogacy Center (TASC) conducted a study to assess the reality of assumptions behind this stereotype.
TASC research found although money is an important motive to many surrogates, it is not their primary motive. Almost all surrogates report a variety of emotional reasons for undertaking surrogacy, and many of these can be grouped together under the heading of wishes to enable parenthood, to feel self-actualized, and to enhance their identity. It is, for these women, a particularly female experience, related to the experiences and meaning of biological functioning and motherhood. The love of their children, the gratification their children offer them, and the wish to share these experiences, were often mentioned by these women. These feelings, influenced a number of the motive categories, including empathy with the infertile wife and the drive to generate parenthood for others.
An indirect implications of all this is that these women are as “normal” as anyone else. Previous research assessing surrogates has also found them to be unremarkable and their personalities to be average. Although psychological needs may sometimes, or perhaps even often, be found underlying a number of the motives reported (e.g., guilt), we do not see that this, in an of itself, invalidates the surrogates’ choice. Such conflicts and needs, in part, fuel most “normal” choices and activities of human beings, such as marriage and career. What are “healthy” motives? We do not ban people from becoming CIA agents or test pilots because they are prompted by unresolved wishes.
This does not mean that there are no unhealthy motives for becoming a surrogate and that no discrimination is necessary. On the contrary, the fact that over 40% of our 200 applicants were rejected for emotionally-based reasons, having to do either with poor motives, general life situation, or general emotional makeup, suggests that great discrimination and caution are necessary in accepting individuals for this process. The reasons for rejection listed earlier, as well as the criteria for acceptance, can provide a useful start in the process of providing needed criteria for evaluating surrogate applicants effectively.
Additionally, differences in the composition of accepted and rejected groups reflect the importance of assessing motivation and character. Those individuals and parents who are less detached, more connected to the couple, the baby, and probably to their own children and partners, seem to be the ones favored by our selection criteria. The results may also suggest that, in general, parents are better suited to be surrogates than non-parents, in terms of significant traits, motivation, and more adaptive reactions to surrendering the child.
Being a surrogate is a life experience that allows some women real success in altering their emotional state in a direction they desire and fulfilling ideal images of themselves. A very significant aspect of that image is that of being a mother and, by extension, enabling others to enjoy the pleasures of parenthood that they themselves have had. Because surrogacy involves an act of giving that is personally meaningful to the surrogate, and because what is being given is of unique value, being a surrogate mother has the potential to be a “mutative” event, an experience capable of altering and transforming identity, self-image, and existing psychic structure.
It is exactly the fact that these otherwise individuals, through their biological ability to bear children, feel that they can achieve some measure of greatness that would otherwise be beyond them, that makes being a surrogate so psychologically extraordinary. They feel this moment of greatness as a permanent possession. The memory of this action is a permanent psychological reserve against negative emotional states and events. The motives for becoming a surrogate mother cannot be glibly dismissed as mere “acting out”.
In contrast to the stereotype of a heartless, misguided, impoverished woman primarily motivated by money, surrogates emerge here as average mothers, often trying to further the goals of their children and families.
Source: The American Surrogacy Center, Inc.
We saw this emotionally charged film at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival where it won Best Documentary in 2004. Paternal Instinct has since won other awards for its raw telling of a gay couple’s journey though surrogacy.
Check-out this short clip from the film.
This deep-freezing process is used to preserve and store extra embryos produced during the in vitro fertilization process. These frozen embryos can be thawed and used later, in future cycles.
Dear Surrogate Letter
You may need to create a parent profile or scrapbook to match-up with a prospective surrogate. You can think of it as a resume describing why you will make a great parent. You may be spending an intense nine months with you surrogate during her pregnancy, so compatibility is important. You may want to write a synopsis of your family goals and background, and include photographs or videos to demonstrate why you will be such a great parents(s). This is your chance to set yourself apart from other potential parents. Finding a surrogate can be competitive, so do your best to sell yourself. When a prospective surrogate is ready to choose a family, she will receive these documents from her surrogacy agency. You will then meet the surrogate, interview each other, and see if there is a match.
Gay men using a surrogate will need to find an egg donor. There are numerous egg donor searchable databases online that provide full access to detailed donor profiles, including photos and videos. These sites operate like personals or matchmaking sites. Ideally, your egg donor agency will provide comprehensive screening of donors, and manage the legal, psychological, medical and financial aspects of the egg donation process. The egg donor can make more than five thousand dollars per egg-retrieval cycle. She will undergo the surgical removal of her eggs for fertilization and transfer to the gestational surrogate.
Oocyte or Egg Retrieval (Harvesting)
This is a surgical procedure, usually under general anesthesia, to collect eggs from the egg donor. A needle is inserted into each follicle to release the egg within. The eggs are then placed into a culture dish for insemination.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is an assisted reproductive procedure in which an egg is removed from a ripe follicle and fertilized by a sperm cell outside of the human body. The fertilized egg divides in a protected environment for about two days and then is inserted into the uterus the gestational surrogate. The surrogate will take injected or oral medications throughout the IVF cycle and the first trimester.
For gay men, this the standard form of surrogacy. A gestational surrogate (or gestational carrier) is not biologically related to the child that she carries. The woman basically serves as a host uterus. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is used with the eggs of the egg donor and the father’s sperm. The fertilized embryos resulting from the IVF are transferred to the gestational surrogate. Upon birth, the surrogate relinquishes the child to its genetic parent(s).
One of the first things gay men will be asked to do during a surrogacy process is to provide semen. This can be done prior to the surrogate selection or preparation since the sperm can be frozen for later use. Your semen may be analyzed to test sperm count, motility, and morphology.
Second Parent Adoption
This is common among gay and lesbian parents. This occurs when the biological or legal parent of a child or children is in a relationship with another adult wanting to share parental rights and responsibilities. In contrast to stepparent adoption/domestic partner adoption second parent adoption is used only when the parents cannot marry or become domestic partners. The biological or legal parent consents to relinquish sole custody of the child so that his/her partner can become a second, legal parent. The process takes many months to complete and an attorney is typically involved to file the paperwork.
A Traditional Surrogate is biologically related to the child that she carries. Her eggs are used with the intended father’s sperm via Artificial Insemination (AI).