And a baby makes three! For many LGBTQ parents, knowing where to go to realize their dreams of starting a family can be tough to figure out.
Each state has their own laws regarding who can apply for surrogacy, if it’s even legal. This means that, as a gay couple in search of a gestational surrogate, you start off with roughly 50 options and work your way down from there. Which is insanely stressful. Not only that, but once you have a few viable states narrowed down, then it’s time to start thinking about what you’re looking for in a clinic. Who’s going to donate their genetic material? Eventually, the price tag will also have to be considered. And what about the legal adoptive processes that follow the birth?
For many LGBTQ couples, going abroad for surrogacy options is still sadly a no-go most of the time. Most countries that allow surrogacy require couples to be heterosexual and legally married. This is why so many same sex couples from European surrogacy clinics are referred to the US for their own surrogate needs. So staying within the US and finding an LGBTQ surrogate clinic is generally the best route to go down. These clinics will be familiar with the unique legal aspects of LGBTQ surrogacy in the USA.
Because of all of the boundless legalities, intricate medical treatments, and the emotional strain of finding and interacting with a surrogate – we will always suggest that couples rely on the professional guidance of a reputable clinic.
Location, Location, Location
First, you have to have an idea of where to look. Google searches are always a great place to start to find a quick list of states that are considered LGBTQ surrogacy friendly. This means that the state has laws in place that provide same sex parents with legal protection and consideration. These states include:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
Here is a list of states that have no set legal protections for LGBTQ parents, but have a history allowing the process.
- West Virginia
And finally, states where LGBTQ surrogacy is illegal, or woefully unenforced.
- New Jersey
- New York
Finding a surrogacy clinic that is nearby (or in) your home state can help ease the pain of travel and time costs. While this isn’t always available, most couples find the whole process easier if they can snag a clinic that’s local to them.
Choosing the Right Clinic
Choosing a clinic is the second most important choice you will make in this journey (the first being to have a baby, of course!). Choosing the clinic that best fits your needs will help you smoothly navigate every other step in the surrogate process. Things to consider when looking for an LGBTQ friendly surrogacy clinic in the US are:
- In House Procedures
- A clinic that can offer all of their treatments “in house” is an absolute gem. This will streamline the overall process and leave you with fewer travel related expenses. Not only that, but it allows parents to become comfortable with their team, and not have to constantly be seeing different providers.
- Full Legal and Medical Support
- All good clinics offer their own legal and medical support staff. This is most important when it comes to the legalities of surrogacy. Even in surrogate friendly states, there are still numerous legal considerations that are best navigated by seasoned professionals that are specialized in dealing with surrogacy law.
- Great Location
- Again, a nearby location will help reduce travel time and costs. If it’s available local clinics are the way to go. Many surrogacies also involve a few routine medical treatments that require the intended parents to be present, so a closer clinic means less time off from work and daily life.
- Friendly Staff
- Surrogacy is a nerve wracking and highly stressful process. Beautiful and worth every second, sure, but still incredibly taxing. Feeling comfortable with your clinics staff can help quiet fears and concerns that are naturally a part of this complicated process. Choose a clinic that you can trust.
- Excellent Reputation
- Always check out reviews from couples or individuals that have used your potential clinics in the past. Ask as many questions as you possibly can. Don’t hesitate to request references or ask to speak directly to their medical staff.
- Flexible Payment Options
- Occasionally, laws can make it more difficult for same sex couples to secure financial support (like insurance) for the surrogate process. Make sure that before selecting your clinic, that you fully understand their payment systems and that they operate with transparency.
Choosing the Surrogate
Your surrogacy clinic will help you make the best choice in your surrogate. Most clinics have strict guidelines and policies that outline who may apply to be a surrogate with their company. Make sure that you ask about these guidelines before you commit to one clinic or another.
Most clinics will offer intended parents a choice between several surrogates that they have matched specifically with the intended parents in mind.
There are two main types of contracts that are important to have anytime you’re considering a surrogate.
Pre-Birth Parentage Order
While not all states offer a pre-birth parentage contract, the ones that do are that much more reliable for same sex couples. All of the states listed as LGBTQ friendly have recognized pre-birth orders. A pre-birth order removes all rights and responsibilities from the surrogate and places them within the hands of the intended parents. This allows both parents to be immediately listed on the child’s birth certificate regardless of biological inheritance. So even if you used donor materials, the child is still rightfully yours at the time of birth.
Almost any state that allows surrogacy of some kind recognizes a surrogacy contract. These contracts are essential to the process of surrogacy, because they outline specifically what will transpire during your surrogacy journey. Surrogacy contracts in the US should be a collaborative effort between the intended parents and the surrogate. They will list the rights, responsibilities, and roles that each person will play throughout the entire process. It’s wildly important that these contracts are drawn up and negotiated by legal professionals; both for the intended parents and the surrogate herself.
Surrogacy contracts drawn clean lines of expectations throughout the process and help limit disputes or any miscommunications that can come up later on in the process. A surrogacy contract should be agreed upon and signed prior to any medical treatments being performed.
With the clinic chosen, the surrogate selected, and the contracts all drawn up, you are now ready to start your journey towards parenthood! The only thing that’s left is figuring out how to paint the nursery.