Having a child by a surrogate as a same-sex couple is full of legal stumbling blocks and unique decisions that don’t exist for heterosexual couples. Gay and lesbian couples ready to start a family need to find a skilled surrogacy agency with LGBT experience that can help you surmount the obstacles.
Seek out an experienced LGBT-friendly surrogacy agency
When considering surrogacy as an alternative to pregnancy or adoption, the most important factor is the quality and experience of the surrogacy center. Like any intended parent, you’ll want to find a surrogacy center with a high success rate.
As you consider potential agencies, look for one with the unique legal and financial requirements of LGBT surrogacy to minimize risk and surprises along the way. Ask about their counseling and support programs and how they are specifically tailored to same-sex surrogacy. ConceiveAbilities in Seattle has an entire section of their website devoted to LGBT-specific news, legal information, recommendations for support groups, and more.
You may need to choose between traditional and gestational surrogacy options
Lesbian couples may not know the status of their fertility until they decide to pursue a family. If both partners are either unable to carry a child for any reason, then traditional or gestational surrogacy are options.
Gestational surrogacy is an option if you or your partner have enough viable eggs and can successfully donate. Traditional surrogacy is an option that uses the surrogate’s eggs artificially inseminated by donor sperm. Either way, a surrogate mother carries the child with the sole intention of allowing the lesbian couple to adopt the child after birth.
Complex medical procedures and additional legal fees result in higher overall cost
The financial obligation associated with surrogacy is significant. Having a baby via a surrogate in the US can cost as much as $190,000 for lesbian couples. The costs include agency, medical, and legal fees, as well as living expenses and a salary for the surrogate mother. Any unexpected medical issues along the way will likely be out of pocket, as most insurance companies do not cover surrogate parenting bills.
The same-sex surrogacy legal process is complex and varies state to state
Because surrogacy laws differ from state to state, the legal process is complicated for same-sex intended parents. You’ll need to work with an experienced surrogacy professional and attorney familiar with Washington state laws to ensure that your birth contract is legally binding. In some states parents who are not biologically related are required to go through an additional process to obtain a birth certificate recognizing and naming the intended parents.
Regardless of where you live, find an experienced legal professional to help you navigate the complex laws so that you are prepared with a pre-birth order, a full adoption, step-parent adoption, or second-parent adoption to ensure both of you have full legal rights.
Ask about the screening criteria used to identify surrogate mother candidates
Whether you use a volunteer surrogate matched to you by an agency, or a known surrogate, they must both go through a rigorous screening process. Minimize the bias you might face from prospective surrogates or donors through the process by working with an agency that includes LGBT-friendly criteria as part of the screening process.
It’s important to choose a professional agency that is open to and experienced in completing surrogacies for same-sex couples. Using an experienced agency will help you through the complex milestones and help you fulfill your parenting dreams.