How to Become a Surrogate Mother in New York or New Jersey

If you are considering becoming a surrogate in New York or New Jersey, you have a lot to think about. There are important legal, emotional and medical issues which must be addressed before you decide to carry a baby for someone else. If you are thinking, “I want to be a surrogate mother,” it’s important for you to receive professional guidance and to learn all you can about the process before moving forward.

The procedure for being a surrogate mother varies depending on the prospective surrogate’s situation and, most particularly, the state where the surrogate lives. New York and New Jersey have very specific laws on surrogacy, and it’s critical that any surrogacy arrangement taking place in those states comply with state requirements.

If you have already decided you would like to be a surrogate for someone you know, you can contact the law firm of Rumbold & Seidelman at any time and we are happy to provide you with legal guidance throughout your journey. Our team can be reached at 888-962-3001 and online.

If you are considering whether being a surrogate mother is right for you, we hope you find the information provided on this website a useful starting point. We have outlined below the basic requirements and steps a surrogate must take before she is eligible to carry a baby for someone else.

How to Become a Surrogate Mother in NY or NJ

The surrogacy process is dependent upon the partners involved, their surrogacy goals and preferences and the state where they live. These factors will affect how your personal surrogacy journey unfolds.

However, there are a few common steps to becoming a surrogate mother in New York or New Jersey:

Step 1: Understand the laws in your state.

Every prospective surrogate should familiarize herself with the basic requirements in the state where she lives before deciding to become a surrogate parent. These laws will influence the steps she must take to become a surrogate in New Jersey or to become a surrogate mother in New York.

Currently, surrogacy contracts are unenforceable in New York and New York surrogates are not permitted to receive a fee to carry a pregnancy for someone. However, medical, legal and the other expenses which are permitted to be paid in an adoption may be paid by the intended parents on the surrogate’s behalf. Because any agreement between the parties is not legally enforceable, the parties undertaking a New York surrogacy arrangement typically have a close personal relationship prior to their decision to move forward with a surrogacy plan. The relationship between the parties provides them with the trust and confidence they need to move forward.

It is also important for the parties to consider the many legal, emotional and practical issues likely to arise during the pregnancy. Even though surrogacy agreements are not enforceable, these issues should be agreed upon in principle by the surrogate and intended parents before moving forward with their plan. The professionals at Rumbold & Seidelman have assisted many surrogates and intended parents through successful New York surrogacy arrangements. We have the experience to guide you through the process so that all parties can proceed with confidence.

On May 30, 2018, the New Jersey governor signed the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act into law. The new gestational surrogate NJ legislation  dramatically changes the law in New Jersey. Under the new law, surrogacy agreements, called Gestational Carrier Agreements, are enforceable and intended parent(s) can obtain an Order of Parentage before the child is born. Only a woman who has no genetic connection to the child she will carry (a “gestational carrier”) is eligible to enter into a Gestational Carrier Agreement. The agreement must meet specific requirements and the intended parents and gestational carrier must be eligible under New Jersey law to enter into the agreement. Intended parents are permitted to pay legal and medical expenses in addition to the gestational carrier’s living expenses (including food, clothing and shelter). These expenses may be paid throughout the pregnancy and during the gestational carrier’s postpartum recovery.

It is critical for the parties to work with experienced legal counsel who can ensure that the gestational carrier agreement includes all important issues that may arise during the pregnancy and at the time of birth. Our legal professionals have the knowledge and experience to do just that.

Step 2: Make sure you meet surrogate requirements.

Prospective surrogates living in New Jersey must meet the requirements set by state law. In addition, surrogates must meet the requirements established by their surrogacy professional, which are designed to ensure that any woman considering becoming a gestational surrogate is medically, physically, and emotionally prepared to undertake that task. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (an organization dedicated to advancing the science and practice of reproductive medicine) has published guidelines which most fertility clinics follow. According to those guidelines, all prospective surrogates must have carried at least one pregnancy successfully to term, have had no major complications in previous pregnancies and must have a mental health evaluation.

You can ready more about the ASRM requirements to be a gestational carrier here.

Step 3: Finding Intended Parents and Choosing Surrogacy Professionals.

There are companies which facilitate surrogacy arrangements by assisting potential surrogates and intended parents to find one another (“matching”) and by coordinating the many aspects of a successful surrogacy arrangement. The services provided include: locating surrogacy professionals (such as lawyers, counselors and fertility clinics); coordinating the communication between professionals; arranging for travel to medical appointments; ensuring timely payment of fees and expenses; and generally supporting the parties along the way. The fees charged for these services are paid by the intended parents. Although these companies are often called “agencies,” they are more appropriately called “matching programs” because they are not regulated by the state.

Although matching programs can be very helpful, becoming a surrogate without an agency or a matching program is also possible. The decision of whether to use a matching program is a personal one and should be guided by how much responsibility you and the intended parents wish to take on during the journey. Please note: Current New York law does not allow a matching program to receive a fee; therefore if you live in New York and are considering becoming a surrogate in NY, you must proceed with a private surrogacy.

If you decide to pursue a private, or independent, surrogacy arrangement without the assistance of a matching program, you and the intended parents will need to find each other on your own. Some prospective surrogates find intended parents through online websites, newspaper advertisements and networking with friends and family. In these situations, the woman seeking to be a surrogate will need to speak with the intended parents directly and take the time to get to know them. We think it’s important for the surrogate and intended parents to genuinely like one another so that they will comfortable working together towards such an important and emotionally complex shared goal. Of course, if the parties already know one another, being “matched” is unnecessary.

No matter which path you choose, once the parties decide to work with one another, the lawyers, doctors, counselors and escrow agents (who handle the financial aspects of the surrogacy) will strive to work in a coordinated way to achieve a successful surrogacy arrangement from start to finish.

If you are interested in locating intended parents, Rumbold & Seidelman can assist and guide you in your efforts.

Whether or not you have the assistance of a matching program, you will need to work with a fertility clinic and a surrogacy attorney to complete the surrogacy process. Your fertility clinic will complete any necessary medical and mental health screening and, of course, will perform the embryo transfer procedure. Your surrogacy attorney will draft and/or review a Memorandum of Understanding between you and the intended parents to make sure everyone understands the legal process and that everyone is on the same page regarding the details of the surrogacy arrangement. You can learn more about that step below.

Our legal professionals at Rumbold & Seidelman are ready to help women wishing to apply to be a surrogate mother in New York and New Jersey. We can assist you to locate the surrogacy professionals you will need to guide you through that process.

Step 4: Complete a Surrogacy Contract or Agreement.

Once intended parents have been identified and the parties have passed the initial medical screening, the parties must retain independent legal counsel to advise them on the law pertinent to the surrogacy arrangement. Gestational carrier agreements are enforceable in New Jersey and, if properly drafted, the agreement will ensure that the intended parents are recognized as the legal parents of the child from the moment of birth. Although a surrogacy contract is not enforceable in New York, the parties should enter into a non-binding “memorandum of understanding.” This will allow the parties to proceed with the confidence of knowing that everyone understands what to expect during the process and that they share those expectations. A well-drafted memorandum of understanding details every aspect of the surrogacy journey, including each party’s rights and responsibilities, risks and liabilities, and the steps for establishing parentage once the child is born.

If you have found intended parents, you can contact our law firm to draft or review the recommended surrogacy documents. The surrogate and intended parents will need to be represented by separate attorneys. Our legal team has represented many surrogates in the past, and we are happy to assist you in that process.

Step 6: Complete the Medical Process of Surrogacy.

After a contract has been created, the medical process of surrogacy can begin. As noted above, any woman reaching this phase of the process will have already completed any required medical and mental health screenings. Once the legal documents have been completed and signed, any woman hoping to be a surrogate mother in New York or New Jersey will start to take required medications to prepare her body for the embryo transfer procedure. Surrogates frequently use medical clinics located near their home for this initial phase. The surrogate then typically travels to the intended parents’ IVF clinic for the embryo transfer procedure. If the surrogate becomes pregnant, she will receive her prenatal care from her local obstetrician until she gives birth. Once the child is born, the intended parents will take custody of the child.

Becoming a surrogate mother in New York or New Jersey can be legally, emotionally and medically complex. It’s a  big decision for any woman to make and one that should only be made after considerable thought and with the guidance of experienced professionals. If you are interested in becoming a gestational surrogate, we encourage you to reach out to us to explore your options; call our law firm at 888-962-3001.

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