Ask Jennifer! How often do you have contact with the intended parents while you were pregnant?

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What is Pre-Birth Order (PBO)?

Your Gestational Carrier is pregnant, YAY! Now how do you make sure you, the Intended Parents, are legally declared the parents of the baby and have your names on the birth certificate? The short answer is: it depends. Each state has its own system and you should always consult an attorney knowledgeable in assisted reproductive technology law in the state where the birth will take place (that’s where your parental rights will be determined). 

Surrogacy Law in Colorado

Gestational surrogacy is permitted in Colorado because no statute or published case law prohibits it. Courts typically grant pre-birth parentage orders (PBOs) (a court order issued during the pregnancy confirming the intended parents as the legal parents of the child) without complication.

To learn about other states, Creative Family Connections has a helpful map that outlines the legal status of surrogacy in all 50 states.

Non-Friendly States or States Where Surrogacy is Illegal

In some states surrogacy, or certain forms of surrogacy (such as compensated surrogacy), is illegal: LA, MI, NJ, NY, and WA. If the state is non-friendly to surrogacy, there are potential legal snags and inconsistencies (such as only granting PBOs for heterosexual married couples, or if both intended parents are genetically related to the child). Depending on the state, the surrogacy process may prove very difficult.  States in this category include: AK, AZ, IA, ID, IN, MS, MT, NE, TN, VA, and WY.

In a state where a PBO is not accepted or allowed, IPs may have to go through a post-birth adoption procedure, or petition for a post-birth parentage order. Each state is different; researching and consulting with an attorney is very important when surrogacy is being considered. 

What Does a Pre-Birth Order Do?

This document – a court order – gives all parental rights to the IPs, including ordering that the IPs’ names should go on the child’s birth certificate and the IPs have the right to name their child. This document also removes the gestational carrier from having any parental rights or obligations for the child once it is born.

Cost of the Pre-Birth Order

The cost of a PBO in Colorado is typically $1,500 to $2,500 for an attorney to represent you and prepare the documents, another $500 to $1000 for an independent attorney to represent your gestational carrier in the petition, and approximately $300 for court filing fees and certified copies of the order. The cost for court filing fees and attorney fees varies in other states.

When to File the Pre-Birth Order

Many intended parents wait until after the first trimester (when the risk of miscarriage goes down) to start to the PBO petition, but they also aim to have it done by the time a fetus is generally considered viable (24 – 26 weeks of gestation). In Colorado, once the petition is filed, the court usually returns the order within two or three weeks, according to Ellen Trachman, Esq. of Trachman Law Center.

Soon that baby you have been longing for will be born and you will be legally named the parents – thanks to your PBO!

 

Ask Jennifer! Is the compensation that I receive as a gestational surrogate taxable by the IRS?

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Ask Jennifer! Are you anticipating changes to insurance coverage for surrogates with an ACA repeal?

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How to Give Without Giving Away Your Whole Self

First, with Mother’s Day being this past Sunday, thank you to all mothers out there: your work is never done and it is some of the most important work in the world. You are truly amazing – Happy Mother’s Day!  We also want to give deep and heartfelt recognition to the women out there struggling with infertility, waiting and working so courageously for those babies so desperately desired. Happy Mother’s Day to you, as well.

One of the undeniable traits of mothers is a will to give. And surrogate mothers have an added dimension of being giving with their commitment to helping another person/couple become parent(s).  This generosity and giving spirit of mothers, aspiring mothers and surrogate mothers is awesomely beautiful. But just as moms in our everyday lives need strategies to not give too much of themselves away, surrogate moms need support in not giving their whole selves away during the surrogacy journey. Here are a few things to keep in mind when learning how to give during surrogacy without giving your whole self:

Boundaries

Boundaries can be really hard, especially for a person who is very giving, and especially for a person who is dedicated to helping someone else have a baby. However, it is really important to know your limits, to know what you are and are not willing to compromise, and most of all it is important to not take on too much of the IPs journey. The surrogate’s journey and the intended parent’s journey are intertwined, but understanding that they are still separate is key. You, as the surrogate, do not need to take on the responsibility for the IP’s feelings or hardships, just as the IPs do not need to take on your feelings or hardships. 

Compromise

Compromises are the flexible rubber bands around boundaries that are able to flex a little. Be open to communication and compromise with your IPs. You don’t always have to compromise (keep those boundaries!), but understand that with such a human endeavor, a little bit of flexibility and understanding can go a long way.

Integrity

Integrity for this purpose means honesty, not only with those with whom you are working, but most importantly with yourself.  This is instrumental in being able to figure out where your boundaries lie and where you’re willing to compromise. It also allows you to foster open communication with your IPs, thus possibly avoiding situations that won’t work for either party.

Relationships

All relationships are complicated, and this is very true of surrogacy, as well. A good relationship between you and your IPs, and between you and your own family and friends will help you navigate the hard times. Positivity, assuming the best intentions of the other, and honest communication will help guide these relationships.

Saying No

Something we could probably all hear a little bit more often: It is OK to say no!

Hopefully these tips give you an idea of the ways you can protect yourself as a surrogate from giving too much of yourself away while on the surrogacy journey. You’re a very giving person, and only by protecting your core self can you continue to give.

Note from Amanda who works in our office:

I myself was a surrogate. There are times I have to stop myself from doing something for somebody else because of the negative consequences for myself or my family, despite the positive ones for someone else. I never thought of myself as a giver, yet even as a surrogate, I still wanted to do more, whether it was send a card, or give a gift for a special occasion to the intended parents and their family.  Even though I was growing this beautiful life inside of me, I still felt like it wasn’t enough, and then realized I can give without giving my whole self away, and not feel guilty.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

 

Dear Sassy Surrogate

Dear Sassy: I’m really interested in being a gestational surrogate.  I’ve done a lot of research and think I have a pretty good idea about whether I am qualified and that I want to move forward.  The biggest part I am still struggling with is whether to use an agency or to look to match independently.  Do you have any insight? – Independent Thinker

Dear Indie; That’s a great question that many struggle with and there is no truly one size fits all answer.  An independent match saves the intended parents quite a bit of money, which is fantastic during such an expensive process, and it’s admirable that you want to help them do that, but it requires a LOT of work and extra effort on both yours and their parts.  If you are matching independently keep a close eye on your own safety and security (treat it like blind dating via the internet!) as you explore a match with new intended parents – and know that it can take a lot of time and effort just to find a good match.  Using an agency can be an advantage in that they have a number of systems set up already to support you, they handle the legwork, know where to refer you to and just generally have a great idea of how the entire system works to help troubleshoot any potential roadblocks.  Additionally, they screen all intended parents and should be matching you based on preferred criteria, thus saving you quite a bit of time and effort as you work through compatibility issues.  Another advantage of using an agency is that in the event of a communication issue with your intended parents you have a built in mediator to help handle everything.   There’s also a third option out there that many don’t consider.  Some agencies offer concierge services.  In cases such as that, you match independently but come to the agency (at a reduced agency fee) to have them assist through the logistics and look out for all parties best interests

Dear Sassy:  I don’t have kids of my own yet (And don’t have any desire to.  Ever, if I’m honest.) but I’m watching my best friend struggle with infertility and want to offer to help by being her gestational surrogate.  What can I do?   - Childless Supporter

Dear Childless: Your offer is so lovely and heartfelt that it really hurts me to have to give you the blunt truth that it’s just not possible in that exact way.  In order to act as a gestational carrier you need to have given birth to at least one child and be raising that child – it’s also highly suggested that you be done creating your own family as while it is a rare complication, acting as a gestational surrogate could impact your own future fertility.  Channel that giving and altruistic spirit, though – we need more people like you in this world!  There are a lot of great organizations and events out there that allow you to show your support in other ways, such as the RESOLVE Walk of Hope held in many locations throughout the US (in Denver it is on June 24, 2017)

Dear SS:  Breastfeeding my child was really important to me.  I really want to match with Intended Parents that want me to pump breastmilk but I’m overwhelmed at the logistics of it all.  How in the world does that work??? - Breasturant Open

Dear Breastaurant: You are an incredible human being!  Pumping for your own child takes an incredible amount of time and dedication.  For someone else?  You rock!  It’s definitely possible, but it can become very costly for the parents (they are no longer the intended parents at this point in our hypothetical – they ARE the parents – how awesome is that?!?!).  I’m assuming for sake of this discussion that the parents don’t live close enough to easily drive and pick up any supplies of frozen milk.  The parents will pay you for pumping either weekly or by the ounce.  They’ll also need to pay for all of your supplies (I would suggest you insist on a hospital grade pump if you are going to do this for any amount of time).  At agreed upon intervals, again at the parents’ expense, you’ll pack an appropriate shipping container full of the frozen milk, pack it with dry ice to ensure it stays cold for a longer period of time, and will then ship the very heavy box overnight via FedEx.  It’s very important that you confirm with and disclose to the shipping company that you are making a shipment containing dry ice.  There are special restrictions on shipping containers containing dry ice (it has to do with how it consumes oxygen – it’s actually fascinating if you’re into learning about things like that).  As a personal aside, I would make sure you ship the container to somewhere that you know the intended parents (or someone who is able to sign) will be available to receive it as well as shipping early in the week in case there are any delays.  Happy pumping!

Ask Jennifer! After a match is made, how long does the legal process take?

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Ask Jennifer! Who is the baby handed to directly after the surrogate baby is born?

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A Surrogate Can Make $500,000?! Sounds Too Good To Be True

A German couple came to the US in order to have twin babies via surrogacy. Now a German court won't recognize the US birth certificate naming the couple as the parents. Plus, it claims the couple paid $500,000 to their surrogate, which seems highly unlikely.

Ask Jennifer! Is it required that I have had a previous pregnancy before I become a surrogate?

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Children's Books About Surrogacy

People often want to know how surrogacy will affect children, both the children born from surrogacy and the children of the surrogate mother. It seems hard enough to tell other adults about surrogacy, so talking to young children about it can be even more daunting.

The great news is that children often seem to understand surrogacy better than adults. There is something magical about a young child’s perspective, believing anything is possible, and truly knowing that all you need is love. The gift of surrogacy isn’t so hard for a child to understand; after all, the child knows what being cared for by another adult other than their own parent is like – and that’s exactly what surrogacy is.

There is more great news: there are a bunch of books written for young children about surrogacy. Here are a few recommendations:

The Kangaroo Pouch by Sarah Phillips Pellet
A little joey’s mom is helping another family have a baby and he guides us on the journey.

The Very Kind Koala by Kimberly Kluger-Bell
A koala couple needs the help of a kind koala in order to have a baby.

Why I’m So Special: A Book About Surrogacy by Carla Lewis-Long
A sweet picture book about why the baby born from surrogacy is so special. Lewis-Long also wrote a version of this book for surrogacy with two daddies.

Sophia’s Broken Crayons by Crystal Falk
Based on the questions the surrogate author was asked by her own 3 year old child, Sophia learns about the gift of surrogacy when her friends help her out with her broken crayons.

The Twin Kangaroo Treasure Hunt by Carmen Martinez Jover
A gay kangaroo couple introduces children to the journey of surrogacy.

More Than Four by Katie Carone
A family with two children suffering infertility goes on the surrogacy journey together.

Snuggle up, grab a tissue box and get reading! It’s a great way to get conversations about surrogacy with kids started, and to get questions answered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Jennifer! Once you become clear to become a surrogate, where does your profile get posted?

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The Hottest New Legal Theory: Loss of Genetic Affinity

A fertility clinic makes a big mistake (combined the wrong sperm with the egg of prospective parents) and the baby is no longer genetically the intended dad's. A legal suit follows and new terminology is born! Genetic affinity: the idea that parents have a drive to have a child that is genetically both of theirs.