What You Should Know About Surrogacy Laws in the U.S.


Many people want to add a baby to their family but are not able to give birth to their child. When this occurs, people often opt to work with a surrogate mother. A surrogate is a woman who enters into a contract to give birth to a child. Agencies that facilitate surrogate births impose several requirements for women who apply to be surrogates.

Gestational Vs. Traditional Surrogacy

Babies born to surrogate mothers are sometimes created with the surrogate’s egg cell. This type of pregnancy is known as traditional surrogacy. When a surrogate mother carries a baby made with an egg cell from the prospective parent, it is called gestational surrogacy. In both cases, the sperm cell for the surrogate child can be from the prospective father of the baby -but it doesn’t have to be.

Status of Laws by State

According to American Progress, there are two American states where surrogate arrangements are banned. Some states go further and designate surrogacy contracts as void – with some places imposing fines on anyone participating in a surrogacy transaction. Conditions for surrogacy are imposed by states such as the states of Washington or North Dakota. If you’re considering having a child via surrogacy, check with a family lawyer to be sure of your state’s position on surrogate pregnancies.

Financial Aspects of Surrogacy

The prospective parents typically reimburse the women who become surrogates for their medical and other baby-related expenses. In some surrogacy transactions, the surrogate mother is paid an additional fee for the process. The latter type of contract is called a commercial surrogacy. In some states, this is not permitted, since the authorities of those states feel that the monetary aspect is the equivalent of turning their pregnancy into a business.

Requirements for Surrogates

Although state laws vary, agencies that facilitate surrogate births have many requirements for the thousands of women who apply to be surrogates every year. Prospective surrogates must be U.S. citizens (or permanent residents) under 40. A doctor must certify that the woman is healthy and has had at least one previous healthy pregnancy that resulted in a healthy birth. Most importantly, a prospective surrogate can’t have a history of smoking or illegal drug use.

Legal Requirements for Surrogacy

Once the surrogate has been approved and the intended parent has passed a home study, the surrogacy process will need to include a lawyer. Some agencies will have a lawyer on staff, while others may have a list of attorneys to choose from. An attorney must oversee the legal contracts between the participants to protect everyone involved.

The Surrogacy Process Begins

Once a prospective parent (or parents) is matched with a surrogate and they agree to work together, the process begins with a flurry of activity. According to Elevate Baby, the initial three months of a surrogate pregnancy will involve medical exams and procedures, meetings with lawyers, and a flurry of paperwork. Prospective parents will be kept up to date on the status of the procedure by the agency involved. The amount of contact between the expectant parents and the surrogate varies and is typically agreed upon by everyone at the beginning of the process.

Dreaming of the Future

Prospective parents waiting to welcome a new baby often find themselves dreaming of the day their new baby comes home. Their dreams may extend to sending their expected child to the best schools. After all, according to the U.S. Census, a tenth of American children attend private schools.

Surrogacy may feature legal and financial hurdles, but those will fade once you bring home your new child. If you want a baby and this is the way that works best for you, begin the process with a wish and a prayer. Best wishes to you and your new baby.


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