When you’re starting the surrogacy process, there are a whole lot of bases to cover. At SPS, Cristie Montgomery and her team guide intended parents and gestational surrogates through every step to ensure that nothing important is ever overlooked and that everyone has a positive experience. However, it’s always wise to be familiar with the laws regarding the surrogacy process, as they vary from state to state and California’s guidelines are quite different from other parts of the country. Out of all the bits of relevant California legislation, these four pieces are arguably the most important to be familiar with as you embark upon your journey.
1. There is a Big Difference Between a Traditional and Gestational Surrogate
It’s important to note the difference between a traditional and gestational surrogate. In the traditional surrogacy process, the surrogate’s eggs are used, and she is, therefore, genetically-related to the child she carries. The biological “father” may be the intended father or a man who donates genetic material for the cause. When a gestational surrogate assists, her eggs are not used. The eggs may either be donated or may belong to the intended mother. For this reason, the carrier has no biological relationship to the baby, though she is obviously one of the most valuable and influential members of the team.
2. California is a “Surrogacy-Friendly” State
Interestingly, California does not have any laws that specifically discuss the surrogacy process. However, it is often referred to as a friendly state because of the Uniform Parentage Act, which has numerous guidelines that apply. It does a fabulous job of protecting the rights of intended parents, regardless of their gender, marital status, or sexual orientation.
3. You Can Establish Parentage Before the Baby is Born
Many states require intended parents to wait until a baby is born before they can lay a rightful custody claim on the child. Some also force intended parents to go through the adoption process as well. In California, parents with no biological relationship to the child can establish parentage by filing the proper legal documents, well before the baby is born. These records are sealed after the baby is born, and are only accessible to the gestational carrier, intended parents, both their lawyers, and the Department of Social Services.
4. You Must Have a Lawyer and a Legal Contract throughout the Surrogacy Process
In order to ensure that everyone is legally protected, the intended parents and the gestational carrier must have different lawyers. The lawyers will draw up the paperwork, which includes everything from contractual obligations of both parties, to fees for the gestational carrier, and more. This is an important step, as it establishes a legally-binding contract that covers the entire surrogacy process. The attorney will also handle the necessary paperwork for establishing parentage when the time comes.
If you’re ready to begin the surrogacy process, SPS would love to help. We connect our clients with attorneys who specialize in California surrogacy, match intended parents with their ideal gestational carrier, and oversee the entire journey from the beginning until after the intended parents bring home their new addition. For more information, please contact us today.