Ask Jennifer! Is there anything legislative limiting the amount of time an embryo can be frozen?

Check out the latest from Ask Jennifer!

You asked:

Is there anything legislative limiting the amount of time an embryo can be frozen?

Our answer:

Submit your surrogacy-related question here!

See you soon!

-Jennifer

LGBTQ Equality in Colorado

Denver recently received a 100 (a perfect score) from the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI). From non-discrimination laws, to municipal services, to fair enforcement of laws, to the relationship the city has with the LGBTQ community, Denver has aced it. It hasn’t always been this way, and there’s been a long road to get to this point, and regardless of the score, it’s still not perfect (for example, the Colorado Senate has blocked a ban on conversion therapy for minors 3 times in the past 3 years), but for the most part Denver has become a great place for LGBTQ folks (and their families!) to settle.

In July 2014, a ban against same sex marriages (implemented in 2000 by Governor Ritter) was finally struck down, and the state as a whole began issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples by the end of the year. Obergefell, the Supreme Court decision that confirmed that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples, came a year later. 

In terms of adoptions, Colorado law offers adoptions to same sex couples, single persons, and second parent adoptions (though religious agencies do not necessarily follow those guidelines). The judiciary here is gay friendly (and surrogacy friendly!) and a pre-birth order (PBO) can be filed on behalf of same sex intended parents, single intended parents, and different sex intended parents.

Despite all the forward legislative movement, and an arguably very open and inclusive social community in bigger cities in Colorado, there are still major civil rights cases to be fought. You may have heard that today the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Committee. Do you remember this story? In 2012, a gay couple went to a cake shop in Lakewood, Colorado to order a cake for their upcoming wedding celebration. The owner of the cake shop stated it was the store’s policy to deny service to customers celebrating a same-sex marriage because it went against the religious beliefs of the storeowner.

The Colorado Civil Rights Committee ruled in favor of the gay couple in 2014 . You see, Colorado has a clear statute pertaining to discrimination of this kind and prohibits public accommodations (any place that provides service to the general public, like a cake shop) from discriminating based on perceived or actual sexual orientation (and other protected designations). The cake shop owner’s issue is whether this law violates his First Amendment rights. Many of us in Denver are following carefully, and hoping that justice is served in this case in order to reflect the ideal of equality and inclusion so important to Colorado and to the United States.

While there are still notable problems, Colorado and its citizens, from LGBTQ folks to cis-gendered hetero folks (and everyone in between) have worked hard for legislative equality and also towards social equality. Hopefully, the work that all Coloradans have done together over the past few years continues, and we can continue to lead the country in inclusiveness and acceptance. The gears of change are slow, and Colorado is not perfect by a long run, but we as Coloradans are happy to be on the right side of history, and are also happy to benefit from the full participation of our LGBTQ siblings in all aspects of life here in Colorado.

If you’re interested in starting a family in Colorado, or using a surrogate from Colorado to help start that family, we’d love to hear from you!

Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

Health Insurance for Your Gestational Carrier: Top Questions Answered

IT’S OPEN ENROLLMENT! And a great time to find a surrogate and build your family. Trying to make the tough subject of insurance a little more exciting, there’s a baby at the end! These are the top 5 questions or concerns about health insurance for a gestational carrier from intended parents:

How do I know if the Gestational Carrier’s insurance covers or excludes surrogacy?

Insurance can be tricky. Sometimes a company is fairly clear but, more often than not, knowing for certain is difficult. There are professional organizations such as ART Risk Solutions that can conduct a professional review of your surrogate’s insurance policy to help clarify if surrogacy is covered. Nothing is a 100% guarantee, but companies such as ART Risk Solutions specialize in insurance, especially related to surrogacy. The nominal fee to clarify and have more certainty is much better than assuming the risk of not knowing.

When is Open Enrollment in Colorado and when does the policy become active if a policy is purchased on the Colorado Health Exchange?

Open Enrollment for Colorado is November 1, 2017 until January 12, 2018, and depending on when you purchase the policy, it can be active as of January 1, 2018 OR February 1, 2018. Colorado does not participate in the federal insurance exchange so the state was able to grant an exception to the enrollment period until January 12, 2018, giving you a little extra time!  And having two start dates is pretty awesome as well!

How many plans are available through Colorado’s Health Exchange and what if I need a policy when open enrollment is not available?

According to ART Risk Solutions, Colorado has four surrogacy friendly policies as of October 26, 2017 and availability depends on the county in which the surrogate lives. If a policy is not purchased during open enrollment there is always the year-round option to buy a backup policy through ART Risk Solutions (or a similar insurance broker). These backup policies will cost more money than a policy bought during Open Enrollment, however, the benefit of knowing you have surrogacy covered health insurance outweighs the cost of the policy. Especially when the policy protects against financial responsibility in the event of a catastrophic medical situation.

Can the Gestational Carrier use the Intended Parent’s Insurance?

Unfortunately, the gestational carrier is not an insured person under the IP’s policy, so the IP’s insurance policy cannot be used that way. It is much more important to look at the Gestational Carrier’s current policy and have it reviewed, buy a policy during open enrollment (if the timing is right), or buy a backup policy to make sure that she has health insurance coverage. It is a large cost but many IPs think of it as making sure your child is well taken care of from the very beginning.

What other things should I consider when thinking about health insurance for my surrogate?

When looking into health insurance for a GC, a few other things that you may need to consider are: Does the policy you agree on for your surrogate accept dual coverage in order to work with her current insurance for other health related items not connected with surrogacy? Will this surrogacy journey last over two deductible years? If it does, it is possible that a backup policy through a private broker may be less expensive or at least even in cost over two years time.

Insurance can be tricky and it is not a place to cut corners or try to go it alone. Rely on a professional to make sure you are financially protected throughout your surrogacy journey. If you have specific insurance questions, email us at info@coloradosurro.com and we can point you in the right direction. And best of luck to all out there working on insurance for 2018 (and beyond) pregnancies!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Ask Jennifer! If a GC changes her job during a pregnancy, could she change insurance via the open market?

Check out the latest from Ask Jennifer!

You asked:

If a GC changes her job during a pregnancy, could she change insurance via the open market?

Our answer:

Submit your surrogacy-related question here!

See you soon!

-Jennifer

Top 10 Questions Partners of Surrogates Ask

The surrogacy journey is so exciting and rewarding, and it also requires teamwork. Go Team B-A-B-Y! As the partner of a surrogate, you will be on this journey right along with her and you will probably have many questions. We’ve listed some here that we hear most often, and there are many more. There are no dumb questions, so feel free to ask your Case and/or Match Manager anything and everything!

1.     Can we still have sex?
During the time surrounding the embryo transfer, it is very important to abstain from having sex. This time period will be outlined by the medical staff at the fertility clinic, and will also be in your contract.  Once your pregnancy is confirmed, and you are cleared to have sex, you’re good to go!

2.     Will our health insurance cover this, and will we have out of pocket medical costs?
This depends on your health insurance plan. Some plans cover surrogacy, but many do not. If yours doesn’t cover surrogacy, intended parents have some options on how to get you insurance (through the Affordable Care Act sometimes, or through a company like ART Risk). This would be at the expense of the intended parents.

3.     Will we be able to have more of our own children in the future?
We encourage candidates to consider surrogacy once their family is complete, because of the risks involved with any pregnancy (a surrogacy pregnancy is no more risky than your own pregnancy). However, if all goes smoothly as planned, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to have children in the future.

4.     How involved will I be in the process?
You are an integral part of the surrogacy journey! Your support for your spouse is essential, so if you have any concerns about the process, please let your Case Manager know. In terms of logistics, you will attend the psychological screening before your spouse is cleared as a candidate, and you are strongly encouraged to attend the in-person interview with the Case Manager before clearance. You will also be signing the Gestational Carrier Agreement between the intended parents and your surrogate partner. Finally, you’ll be the one at home with your spouse when she’s getting ready for transfer and when she’s pregnant – it’s exciting and fun, but definitely affects your whole family.

5.     Can she continue to work throughout her pregnancy and what happens if she can’t?
Yes, your spouse may continue to work during the pregnancy, although there may be restrictions or modifications to her duties if the RE or OB recommends them. If she is placed on bed rest by her OB, your intended parents may be responsible for lost wages depending on how your contract is written.

6.     What do we tell our children?
That’s a very personal decision and depends on the age of the children. I’ve heard a surrogate with very young children tell them “We are carrying this baby for his mommy, because her tummy is broken.” That made sense to them and was enough information.  When children are older, you may want to explain a bit about infertility to them, and tell them how much the intended parents appreciate your family’s help in creating their own family. It’s a great lesson in selflessness and service for a surrogate mother’s family.

7.     What if we become attached to the baby?
Many surrogates and their spouses have happily shared their thoughts on this. All parties are aware prior to starting the process that this is the child of the intended parents. It is not biologically related to the surrogate, which creates a more clear cut “extreme babysitting” situation. There is definitely a connection to the life growing inside you, but it’s very different than carrying your own child. You are preparing to give the most precious gift ever.

8.     Will we be involved in the baby’s life after the pregnancy?
This is something that is negotiated prior to signing the gestational carrier agreement and varies greatly. Some surrogates/IPs prefer substantial contact after the birth, while others choose to exchange holiday cards and photos on birthdays. It’s a really important thing to discuss with your IPs before you sign the contract!

9.     What if something happens to her during the pregnancy?
The intended parents are required to take out a life insurance policy in the amount of at least $500,000. It would be a very rare and tragic situation for a surrogate to lose her life during pregnancy or delivery (as we noted before, a surrogacy pregnancy is not any more risky than a biological pregnancy), but having this type of insurance policy ensures that the surrogate’s family will not incur financial hardship due to her decision to be a gestational carrier.

10.  Can I be in the delivery room with her?  Who else will be there?
You are absolutely welcome in the delivery room to be part of the best and most beautiful part of the journey: witnessing the birth of a new family! The IPs may want to be in the room, too, and may request a photographer or other birth support. This will also be specifically stated in your contract with the IPs.

As the partner to a surrogate, you are so important to the surrogacy journey. Your questions and your feelings about the process are critical, so ask away! If you’d like more information about your spouse’s interest in becoming a surrogate, please contact us at

Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

Dear Sassy Surrogate

Dear Sassy: I’m just starting my journey as a surrogate (starting medications next week!). I’d love to share with my circle of friends about my surrogacy, but I feel really passionate about surrogacy and I think I’d like to blog about it. Do I need special permission from my intended fathers to do that? – Loud and Proud

Dear L&P: That’s so exciting – congratulations! Wishing you the best as you start your medications! It’s great that you want to share your journey with your friends and possibly with a larger community. One of the best ways for information to get out there about the realities of surrogacy (instead of the horror stories about surrogacy) is for women like you to share with your group of friends and beyond. But your question is spot on: it’s not just your journey, it is also your intended fathers’ journey, and as such, it’s best to ask them first. Many intended parents (IPs) are absolutely fine with their carriers sharing on social media and beyond, and may only ask that you not use their names, or the name of the baby-to-be. Some IPs are fine with being named. But there are some IPs who would really rather not be named, and would rather you not talk about the pregnancy to anybody outside of your immediate friends and families. There are lots of reasons for this: maybe the IPs have experienced a lot of loss and feel nervous about sharing details too early, or maybe the IPs are just private people and want to share in their on way about their journey. Whatever the case, it’s better to talk about it first together. And don’t forget to let them know your intentions with sharing – it sounds like it’s not to get attention, but rather to use your personal knowledge to increase others’ understanding and awareness of surrogacy. If your IFs still aren’t comfortable with you sharing, keeping a personal surrogacy journal might help you keep important notes and feelings that you can share further at a later time. And one other quick note: check your Gestational Carrier Agreement that you signed with the IFs. There might already be a clause in there about communicating to the larger world about your journey!

Dear Sassy: I’ve been working on getting myself matched with IPs independently. However it’s become clear that the couple I’ve been talking to isn’t the couple for me. How do I tell them without hurting their feelings? – So Sorry, But No

Dear No Thanks: I really feel for you, that’s a tough position! No one wants to have to tell someone who is looking for a surrogate, and has possibly faced a lot of trouble having a baby, that you can’t be the surrogate for them. But in this case, immediate honesty is the best policy. You don’t have to go into details about why they aren’t the right match for you, but they deserve to know as soon as possible so that they can go find that perfect person (and so that you can, too!). As with most truth-telling, a little compassion will go a long way. Let them know you really feel for them, and you know the right person is out there, but that you aren’t that person (it sounds like breaking up, doesn’t it??). If they press you for specifics, you are welcome to tell them what wasn’t working for you, or you can gently let them know that it doesn’t matter, it just wasn’t right. And this sassy surrogate isn’t above blaming things that don’t work out on my spouse. Or on “bad timing.” Unethical you say? I like to think of it of neutral-ethical. I like to think of how I would like to be told that I’m not the surrogate for a family who is looking. Gentle honesty. That’s my preference, as hard as it can be. Best of luck to you, and to the couple!

Do you have a question for Sassy? Please email us at info@coloradosurro.com and we’ll get your question to her! If you’d like to learn more about the role an agency can play in matching, please call us at 720-709-4677

Ask Jennifer! What advice would you give to IP's when they first find out they need a surrogate? + Do IPs have to live is CO to use a CO surrogate?

Check out the latest from Ask Jennifer!

You asked:

What advice would you give to IP's when they first find out they need a surrogate?

+

Do IPs have to live is CO to use a CO surrogate?

Our answer:

Submit your surrogacy-related question here!

See you soon!

-Jennifer

Meet Lindsay Jefferson On Our Staff: How Did You Get Into Surrogacy?

A year and a half ago, I didn’t really know what surrogacy was. If you had asked me, I probably could have given you an answer about what it was, but I didn’t exactly understand it. It wasn’t on my radar, and it wasn’t anything I had ever thought about. My only experience with surrogacy was another mom whose kid was in my kid’s preschool class. She was very pregnant, and one day at school I asked her when she was due. She told me that she was due in two weeks and then quickly added, “but it’s not my baby.” Excuse me?!

Then, like most people who are under-educated about surrogacy, I am positive I gave her a really stupid, confused look and was hoping she’d explain further so I wouldn’t have to ask anymore questions (I’m not exactly the most tactful person when asking questions). Thankfully, like many kind surrogates who deal with people not understanding the process, she patiently explained to me that she was a gestational surrogate who was carrying a baby for a couple who were unable to get pregnant. I was a little blown away by the mechanics of it all. It took me a bit to comprehend it and take it all in. I mean, I had a hard time being pregnant with my own three kids. I was not the glowing, love-to-be-pregnant type. Don’t get me wrong—I was super grateful that I was able to get pregnant, but I just sort of sucked at it. The idea of it all was awesome, just maybe not all the pregnancy stuff that goes along with it. But this person. This person was carrying a baby for someone else. She was giving the gift of a baby to a couple who desperately wanted one. Mind. Blown.

Fast-forward about six months, and I’m standing at the bus stop striking up a conversation with Jennifer White, the Director of Colorado Surrogacy. She was telling me how she and her sister, Attorney, Ellen Trachman, had just started a surrogacy firm in Colorado. I felt thrilled that I even sort of knew what the heck she was talking about (thank you preschool mom surrogate friend!). I had a trillion questions, which Jennifer graciously answered. I then told her if she ever needed marketing help, to let me know!.To be honest, I had a marketing job at the time, and I’m not sure how serious I was when I said it. Kind of like when people say, “Well let me know if you ever need anything” but sometimes it’s just a polite thing to say. But I had put it out into the universe (at the bus stop).

Fast-forward again another 6 months. My life basically imploded after a horrible divorce; I had 3 young kids and had recently lost that aforementioned marketing job. Jennifer and I met for coffee the day I lost the other job, and she mentioned she had a need for some marketing help for Colorado Surrogacy, but it may only be a few hours. I was so game. Whether you believe in God or a higher power or just the universe, it seemed something or someone was at work here. I was a hot mess. Like the hottest, messiest hot mess ever and I was questioning what was even important anymore. In a time in my life when everything was falling apart, Jennifer and Ellen took a chance on me (because that’s the type of women they are), and I was offered a chance at a job that was meaningful. A job where I got to use my marketing skills, my love for babies, and my desire to help people. Holy crap. Jackpot.

Since beginning my work with Colorado Surrogacy, I’ve learned so much. Not just about the surrogacy process itself and how it works (trust me, I’ve learned a lot about that—starting with the very basics like the difference between traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy!). More importantly, I’ve learned about the struggles of Intended Parents trying to have a baby. I’ve learned about gay couples who desperately want to have their own biological child. I’ve learned about single people who haven’t met “Mr. Right” or “Mrs. Right” but their dreams of a baby are very much still real. In every one of these situations, surrogacy can make their dreams come true. 

In addition to the Intended Parents, I’ve seen and heard from some of the most kind-hearted, gracious, selfless women ever. Surrogates. They are willing to give up their bodies for nine-months (okay, 9.5 months really, but who’s counting) to carry a baby for someone else. For. Someone. Else. Do you realize how huge that is? So haters, go on and hate (and boy do they hate), but these women? They rock it.

And lastly, after attending a company retreat last month, my cup runneth over even more when meeting the other amazing, inspiring women who work for Colorado Surrogacy, New Mexico Surrogacy, and Montana Surrogacy. Each one had her own story about why she chose to work in surrogacy. Three previous surrogates. Several with infertility issues. And all with a deep passion to help people make babies. These women – they are incredible, and it is an honor and pleasure to work with such compassionate, intelligent, driven people.

So while my “how I got into surrogacy” story may not be as dramatic or interesting as some, it sure is an important story to me. Surrogacy changes lives every day. It has changed my life.  It has given me purpose and meaning and reset my “what’s important” meter in a time when I desperately needed it. So the next time you hear someone or read something about those women “renting out their uteruses” or how this is not natural and how “God intended it,” I hope you’ll remember how many lives surrogacy changes and how it changed mine. Throughout the next few weeks, you’ll get to hear from other amazing women from Colorado Surrogacy and how they chose the surrogacy path.

I invite you to check out our website to learn more about surrogacy and how to get started.

What Happens When A Surrogate Unknowingly Gets Pregnant With Her Own Child At The Same Time She Is Pregnant With Someone Else's Child? That. Just. Happened.

Surrogates might soon see some strict "no sex" clauses in their contracts.

Happy Halloween from Colorado Surrogacy

Happy Halloween, Everyone! We had this idea to start a post about our support of gay parents and parenting with a “5 Halloween Costumes for Surrogates Carrying for Two Dads,” but it pretty quickly got weird (and objectifying): Oven, bun and bakers; Mars and its 2 moons; a Miley Cyrus wrecking ball (Barbie doll over the baby bump) and construction workers; Juno and two guys from the school running team. I’m sure this Halloween there are scarier things out there than these hopeless ideas, but I don’t know what they are.

I’m putting this failure aside and getting to the point: Our core belief at Colorado Surrogacy is that family comes in all shapes and sizes. It is also one of our main values to support the LGBTQI community, especially when it comes to family and parental rights. We feel very lucky to get to do this work of helping families grow, no matter what that family looks like: two dads or moms, one mom or one dad, a mom and dad, parents who already have children, and the list goes on!

We are also incredibly lucky to work with gestational carriers (GC) who are willing to carry babies for growing families. Several of our GCs have a preference to work with gay parents because they also feel deeply about supporting the gay parenting community (call us at 720-209-4677 to hear more about our cleared GC candidates!).

We work to be an everyday ally to queer parents, not only in our daily work to match and manage matches between intended parents (IPs) and GCs, but also through our community memberships (we are a proud member of the Colorado LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce), and through our commitment to promoting understanding of 3rd Party Reproduction law (see Ellen Trachman, Esq.’s posts on these issues!).  Ellen was even named Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year in 2015 by the Denver Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for her work supporting the community.  And this year she was named 2017 Legal Program Volunteer of the Year by The GLBT Community Center for her commitment to providing legal protection to members of the community even when they don’t have the resources to hire an attorney.

If you have questions about how the surrogacy process works, or how to get started on your journey to parenthood today, please contact us at info@coloradosurro.com. We are also happy to share with you more Halloween costume ideas (or, even more helpful, NOT share them).

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash