Gaining Peace of Mind with Legal Contracts
You’ve become a surrogate and you’ve been matched! You’ve been medically cleared. You’ve flown through a whirlwind of papers and phone calls and assessments, and you’re wondering when you actually get to the pregnancy part. Don’t worry. You’re almost there. But before you move on to the medical part of your surrogacy pregnancy, you’ll need to get through the legal contract and get referred to a strong legal team.
While the legal part of the surrogacy journey can seem daunting, your agency should refer you to a skilled attorney who specializes in assisted reproductive law.
Here are a couple of things to consider when you’re thinking through the legal part of your surrogacy journey –
Find a lawyer who specializes in reproductive law.
Here’s some great news – there are amazing legal precedents for surrogacy in many places in the United States. For YOUR surrogacy journey, you’ll need a lawyer who knows these legal precedents, someone who knows each part of the legal process for surrogacy exactly where you live – because laws vary by state, and you need a lawyer who is licensed to practice in the state in which you live. And you need a lawyer who specifically practices reproductive law.
Look at it this way – if you needed heart surgery, you wouldn’t go to the optometrist for your triple bypass. And if it is possible, you’d go to the very best heart surgeon you could find, right?
The legal process for surrogacy is no different. You don’t need a tax attorney or a real estate attorney. You need a lawyer who knows and practices reproductive law.
Your surrogacy agency should be your resource for an attorney referral. And, the fees for your legal representation are paid for by the intended parents.
Both intended parents and surrogates need their own representation
It’s common for intended parents and surrogates to get along great, even to become fast friends. What often follows is a question to us, “Do we really both need our own lawyers? We totally trust each other, so can’t we be legally represented by the same lawyer?”
The short answer – no. You need your own independent representation. This is best practice.
The longer answer – The surrogacy journey is amazing and beautiful. It’s also so complex. Your hopes and your worries and your new appreciation for the incredible parents you’ve just met… it will all become a bit murky when you’re trying to make sure you’re meeting your needs through your legal contract.
You need a lawyer whose sole purpose is to look out for your interests and well-being through the legal part of this process. Most often parents and surrogates try to take care of each other, but when you know that you each have your own legal team, you can stop worrying about making sure everyone is alright and really focus on what you need to do for you and your family. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to take care of each other on this amazing journey!
Signing a legal contract gives you protection and a sense of peace
It may feel like a lot, getting into a legal contract with someone so that you can carry their baby. It is. This is a big step on a monumental, life-changing journey. You’ll want to treat it with as much care as you can.
Once everyone has a chance to review the contract and sign it, you’ll have a marker on your journey that will serve you for the rest of the road ahead. Your contract allows you a way to point back to your intentions at the beginning of the journey, and to the intentions of the intended parents who signed the contract, too. Your lawyer can outline for you all the ways the contract will help you on your journey, but treating this step with care and intention is truly important.
One very important aspect of the legal process is to make sure that you have medical directives in place on the (outside) chance something should happen to you during your surrogate pregnancy and decisions need to be made on your behalf.
Life and estate planning documents should be part of everyone’s overall planning. Sadly, the vast majority of people do not have these documents in place, including life insurance. If you do not already have these documents in place for your family, it is a conversation worth having with a life and estate planning professional. This is not something that your intended parents should be responsible for. They need to protect their own interests with respect to the surrogate pregnancy. Your attorney in this matter should be able to draft medical directives for both you and your partner specific to your surrogacy journey. The life insurance that you obtain for your surrogacy journey should be over and above what you already have in place to protect your family should something happen to you.
You have help
Your surrogacy agency will know how to help you navigate the process – from finding the right legal help to asking the most important questions.
The legal process takes a great deal of care. It’s also a critical part of the process to help parents move forward with incredible surrogates and create the family of their dreams. Lean on your surrogacy agency to help you work on this step of the journey so you can move on to the next – getting ready for pregnancy!
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