SURROGACY PITFALLS: HOW TO AVOID DISASTER WHEN CONSIDERING A FAMILY MEMBER TO SERVE AS YOUR GESTATIONAL CARRIER
It’s a logical choice. If you can’t carry a baby yourself, you look to your family for help. Obviously, they love you and want to help so why not? However, the logical choice is not always the best choice. The question becomes: Is a family member really the best choice in my situation?
There are several things to consider when using a family member:
First and most important: Is my family member qualified medically? Gestational Carrier’s must meet certain medical criteria in order to be considered by an infertility clinic as eligible to carry a baby for another.
Generally gestational carriers must at the minimum:
- At least one full term pregnancy
- Have relatively easy pregnancies
- Had deliveries without significant complications
- Have a healthy body mass index.
Your family member should meet these qualifications. If a clinic would not allow her to carry for a stranger due to the medical risk why would you ask the clinic to bend the rules for your sister? The gestational carrier’s health should be paramount.
Is your carrier psychologically prepared?
Is she equipped to do this for you without jeopardizing her mental health and your relationship? Carrying a baby for a family member means this is a family event. If you have frequent disagreements with your family members now, then this may be even more stressful and may strain those relationships. With family there could be an element of coercion as well. Is your family guilting her into carrying when she really does not want to? In the end, you must ascertain if she is doing this with her eyes wide open. Psychological screening and counseling is essential.
Is your carrier’s immediate family/spouse on board?
If your carrier is interested in helping you, but her spouse is adamantly opposed then this will create friction and is not good for her marriage. All parties must be aware and committed.
Are all parties on the same page on the big issues?
What is your stance on abortion or reduction? Is it the same as your carrier’s? Does your carrier smoke or drink? How do you feel about her smoking during pregnancy? Will she allow you in the delivery room? Does she want you involved and will she take your input into account?
Legal and insurance issues need to be examined as well.
Does your carrier live in a state where the contract will be upheld? Can your parentage be determined prior to birth? Does she work and have medical insurance that covers the pregnancy? Who will take care of her kids/family if she is bedridden? Will participating affect her job, chances for advancement, etc.?
When utilizing a family member as a carrier make sure to consult professionals. As the old saying goes, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Family relationships are more emotional and feelings can be hurt. People tend to be less likely to compromise when they feel under-appreciated or taken advantage of. Doctors, psychologists and lawyers are essential. Make this journey safe and enjoyable.
Melissa B. Brisman is a nationally renowned attorney who practices exclusively in the field of reproductive law. Her practice is located in Montvale, New Jersey, and she is licensed in MA, NY, NJ and PA. She is owner of Reproductive Possibilities, LLC (Surrogate Agency), Melissa B. Brisman, Esq., LLC (Reproductive Law Firm) and Surrogate Fund Management, LLC (Escrow Account Management Company). Melissa completes hundreds of gestational carrier arrangements, ovum, sperm, and embryo donations, and adoptions each year. Melissa first started helping couples become parents in 1996 and is a parent of three children all via surrogacy. She understands the emotion and concern involved in creating a family and as a lawyer, has helped thousands of parents have babies using all available reproductive technologies, while protecting their legal rights. She was the first attorney ever to place two women on the birth certificate of their child, without an adoption, in NJ; and to place two men on the birth certificate of their children born through a GC, without an adoption, in PA. Melissa Brisman’s legal expertise is put to good use as she is considered a true pioneer in this field as she advocates for changes in the law.