Gestational Surrogacy is a process by which a woman agrees to carry or gestate a child in her uterus who is not biologically related to her to medically assist the Intended Parent or Parents who are medically unable to become pregnant, maintain or complete a pregnancy on their own due to medical reasons.
What Parties May Be Involved in Gestational Surrogacy in Texas?
Any Gestational Surrogacy takes a team of many all working together to be successful. There is the Intended Parent or Parents, the Gestational Carrier and her husband if she is married, the IVF Physician and staff. the Obstetrician and other maternity specialists, if necessary, the hospital and staff, the health insurance company, the attorneys for the Intended Parents and the Gestational Carrier and the Judge and the court system. All of these parties will play a role in any gestational surrogacy.
How does Gestational Surrogacy Work?
Gestational Surrogacy is accomplished through In the process of In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer (”IVF/ET”). In this process the eggs of the Intended Mother or an Egg Donor are retrieved and fertilized with the sperm of the Intended Father or a Sperm Donor by in vitro fertilization at an IVF clinic. Then, generally, one or two of the best quality resulting embryos are transferred into the uterus of the Gestational Carrier.
Gestational Surrogacy vs. Traditional Surrogacy?
In Gestational Surrogacy, the gestational carrier is not biologically related to the child. Under Texas law, the Gestational Carrier may NOT utilize her eggs. If the eggs of the Gestational Carrier are used, this legally transforms a gestational surrogacy into an adoption as the Gestational Carrier is now both the Gestational Carrier and the biological mother. This is an important distinction because with a biological connection, she now has parental rights which can only be terminated with her consent after the birth of the child. In Texas, there is no “traditional surrogacy” only gestational surrogacy or adoption.
Who Might Be Interested in Starting a Family Through Gestational Surrogacy?
Many different parties may consider gestational surrogacy as a means to build their family such as:
- Married* couples, heterosexual or same sex, who are unable to become pregnant, maintain a pregnancy or complete a pregnancy due to a medical reason
- Single males
- Single females unable to carry a pregnancy due to medical reasons
* In Texas, two individuals who are not married may not do gestational surrogacy. They would need to either be married or have one individual do a single person surrogacy and then a co-parent adoption following the birth of the child.
What Should You Do If You are Interested in Starting a Family through Gestational Surrogacy?
- Establish your “team.” In my personal and professional experience, if you are considering gestational surrogacy to build your family, assembling an excellent team is essential to a successful surrogacy journey. Each of these team members should recognize their role in the process and treat other team members with courtesy and respect.
- Do your research. Careful consideration and research should be done in the selection of your IVF physician, egg donor or sperm donor, attorney, agency, and most importantly the gestational carrier. Your professional team members should have an extensive medical or legal educational background, professional affiliations and experience in the surrogacy industry.
- Select an Attorney and IVF Physician First. Your attorney and your doctor are the two team members who are professionally and ethically bound to put your best interests first as the Patient and the Client. When you select an attorney and physician first, they serve as gatekeepers to the rest of the industry. Your attorney and doctor can steer you to other well-regarded professionals in the industry with who they have worked and trust. Before you pay huge fees to a surrogacy agency, an attorney can help review Agreements you may be asked to sign with a surrogacy agency, or egg or sperm donor, review insurance documents, answer any questions you have about your specific situation and guide you through the process, so you don’t make mistakes and waste money. An IVF physician will help you confirm whether you actually need to do gestational surrogacy and can also help steer you to other professionals with who they have worked successfully in the past.
What to Do If You Are Interested In Becoming a Gestational Carrier?
If you are interested in becoming a Gestational Carrier, there are some important first steps:
1) ASK YOURSELF SOME IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.
- Is travel an option for you or would you prefer to stay local?
- Am I comfortable allowing the parents to make all decisions about the pregnancy and the baby where my life or health is not a factor?
- How would I feel if the parents ask me to terminate a pregnancy due to a serious medical condition the baby may have?
- What kind of compensation and bonuses are paid for gestational surrogacy in Texas?
- How can I be matched with parents? What are my options?
- Do I understand what gestational surrogacy is?
- Do I know what the screening process is and do I meet the basic criteria?
- Am I comfortable taking medications and doing injections?
2) DECIDE HOW YOU WILL BE MATCHED- AGENCY, ATTORNEY OR INDEPENDENT?
Once you answer many of these important questions above, you are ready to decide if you want to pursue being a gestational carrier and how you will be matched. When you are matched, you have the option to a) match independently and directly with parents on your own with no agency or attorney involved in the matching process b) register with a surrogacy agency or c) have a private surrogacy attorney match you with parents.
Many gestational carriers do not realize they may match in any of these three ways or all at the same time. There are no rules which prohibit a gestational carrier from registering with more than one agency or multiple agencies and an attorney and trying to match herself all at the same time. How you match may dictate the types of compensation a gestational carrier will receive.
When a gestational carrier matches directly with the intended parents, generally the compensation is lower because the parties are unfamiliar with all the expenses involved. If she does not match directly, a gestational carrier may opt to match via an agency or a private attorney who does matching and location. When matching in this manner, compensation will generally be highest as a professional locator is well versed on the different compensation, bonuses, and expenses that are common in the industry and that the gestational carrier will need.
It is important to be cautious in this selection, however, as many gestational carriers are unaware that a surrogacy agency only serves as a facilitator and does not and cannot actually represent the gestational carrier. Only an attorney can actually represent the gestational carrier. Also, with an attorney, the gestational carrier will have direct contact with the Intended Parents and will generally receive higher compensation. This is because many surrogacy agencies charge very high location fees to the intended parents, which in some cases are almost as high as what the gestational carrier receives.
3) CONTACT ALL AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS WHO YOU WISH TO BE REGISTERED WITH, FIND OUT IF YOU MEET THEIR CRITERIA, AND COMPLETE A PROFILE.
When contacting an agency or attorney to be matched, a gestational carrier candidate will be asked a series of questions to determine whether she meets the basic criteria to be a gestational carrier. If so, she will complete a profile, submit some pictures and wait to hear about any Intended Parent(s) who may be interested in matching with her.