Surrogacy Attorneys in Redmond
How Gestational Surrogacy Works in Washington State
Surrogate mothers help families realize their dream of having a child. On January 1, 2019, Washington state enacted the Uniform Parentage Act, which legalized compensated gestational surrogacy in the state. However, understanding what exactly the surrogacy process entails can be difficult. Knowing what to expect as a gestational or genetic surrogate mother is vital.
At Alpine Family Law, our family law attorneys have been helping Washington families navigate complex issues like surrogacy for over 30 years. Our surrogacy attorney can help you navigate your gestational surrogacy successfully.
Gestational vs. Genetic Surrogacy: What's the Difference?
Understanding the difference between gestational and genetic surrogacies is important. Fortunately, the difference is easy to understand:
- In a genetic (or traditional) surrogacy, the surrogate's eggs are used, making the surrogate the biological mother of the child.
- In a gestational surrogacy, the surrogate's eggs are not used (the biological mother's eggs replace them in the IVF cycle), meaning the surrogate has no biological link to the child.
Most surrogacy's today are gestational surrogacies. The Uniform Parentage Act enacted in 2019 allows parents to engage in a contractual, compensated gestational surrogacy agreement with a surrogate mother. Essentially, the surrogate mother agrees to carry a couple's child to term for an agreed-upon fee, after which the surrogate gives the child back to its biological parents.
What Are the Requirements for Being a Gestational Surrogate?
There are a few requirements prospective gestational surrogates must meet to qualify for a surrogacy. They must:
- Have delivered and cared for at least one child of their own
- Have medically uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries, proven by their medical records
- Be between 21 and 38 years old
- Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) under 32
- Be a citizen, legal resident, or legal immigrant of the US
- Be a non-smoker or non-alcoholic and not use any tobacco products
- Not be on anxiety medication or anti-depressants
Individuals who meet these benchmarks are eligible to become compensated gestational surrogates.
How do You Become a Gestational Surrogate in Washington?
Compensated gestational surrogacies are long, involved, multi-step processes. Understanding each step can help you prepare for gestational surrogacy.
Before taking action, you should contact a surrogacy attorney to help you understand the process more completely and navigate the surrogacy easily.
You'll need to work with a fertility or surrogacy organization in your area to be a surrogate. While the surrogacy process varies slightly from area to area, most clinics require prospective surrogates to undergo a similar process. Here's what the gestational surrogacy process looks like from beginning to end:
- Application and evaluation. Whichever clinic you choose will ask you to fill out an application that ensures you're legally eligible to become a surrogate. Applications also contain questions about details such as your lifestyle and financial situation. These questions help clinics match surrogates with the appropriate family.
- Matching. Once your application is evaluated and accepted, they'll work to match you with a family seeking a surrogate. During this time, you'll discuss general details and expectations with various families until you find a good match.
- Screening. Most clinics require physical and psychological screenings for the prospective surrogate. You'll meet with a psychologist and physician, who will verify your physical and mental health. Some clinics also ask surrogates to complete a written questionnaire to cross-examine a surrogate's self-perception. You should also expect physical examinations such as blood work, urine tests, drug screenings, and a hysteroscopy. These tests help make sure the surrogate will carry the baby to term with no or minimal complications.
- Legal process. Many couples pay upwards of $60,000 to their gestational surrogate. To ensure both the surrogate and the family understand the process fully and agree on a set of terms and conditions, a legally binding contract will be signed by both parties. Your surrogacy lawyer can help you draft and negotiate an appropriate contract with your surrogate family.
- IVF protocol. You'll work with a physician to understand the IVF process, such as what medications you should take and what to expect. Your physician will also help you make decisions with your surrogate family, such as whether to conduct a fresh or a frozen embryo transfer. Once an ultrasound confirms a heartbeat in the embryo(s) or fetus, you'll be confirmed as pregnant. After that, you'll work with medical professionals to ensure the fetus is properly cared for, and gradually discontinue your IVF medication once physicians confirm it's safe to do so.
- Pregnancy and delivery. Throughout the pregnancy, you'll work with a physician to make sure there are no complications and everything goes smoothly. You'll work with the adoptive family to develop a birth plan so the delivery goes smoothly, and the child's biological parents can attend the birth. You'll also work out post-pregnancy details such as whether or not the biological parents would like you to pump breast milk for the child.
Surrogacy may be a long process, but few things are more special than the opportunity to help a family bring new life into the world.
Why You Need a Surrogacy Attorney
Many surrogates question the need for a surrogacy lawyer, particularly if they know the family they'll be acting as a surrogate for. However, having a surrogacy attorney with you along the way is essential for a few key reasons:
- They'll help you understand local laws and regulations. Surrogacy regulations can vary clinic-by-clinic, so having an attorney on-hand to explain the ins and outs of surrogacy is crucial.
- They can help you negotiate a fair contract. Pregnancy is hard on the body. A surrogacy lawyer can help ensure you get the support you need during your surrogacy.
- They'll make the legal process a breeze. Understanding the legality of surrogacy is challenging for surrogates, especially when they're more concerned about taking care of their pregnancy. A surrogacy attorney allows you to take your mind off the legal process and rest easy.
Contact Our Redmond Surrogacy Lawyers Today
At Alpine Family Law, our surrogacy attorneys are committed to helping surrogates navigate the gestational surrogacy process with ease.
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