If you’ve made it to this article, it’s probably because you’re asking, “What is surrogacy?” It’s an important question to ask, whether you’re an intended parent, a prospective surrogate, know someone that’s going through the surrogacy process or just want to know more about surrogacies and how they work. After all, it’s critical to be as informed as possible if you’re interested in being a part of our surrogacy program.
No two surrogacies are alike, but there is some general information you should know about surrogacy in South Carolina as you’re starting your research. While the professionals at the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson can answer any questions about surrogacy you may have if you call 864-573-5533, we’ve also detailed some of that information below.
1. What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a process in which a woman carries a child to term for intended parents who, for one reason or another, cannot carry a child to term themselves. There are two types of surrogacy: gestational and traditional.
In gestational surrogacy, an embryo is created using the intended parents’ egg and sperm, or in combination with sperm or egg donation. The embryo is then transferred into the surrogate’s uterus for her to carry to term. In traditional surrogacy, a surrogate uses her own eggs in the conception process, making her genetically related to the child that she’s carrying.
Today, gestational surrogacies are much more common than traditional surrogacies because of the legal complications involved with a surrogate being genetically related to the baby she’s carrying. At the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson, for our Gestational Carrier Program, we only handle gestational surrogacies.
2. How does surrogacy work?
A surrogacy pregnancy usually involves some complicated medical steps, not to mention the other steps needed to prepare for the medical process in the first place. Here’s typically what the surrogacy process will look like once you decide that you’re ready to pursue surrogacy, either as an intended parent or as a surrogate:
- The surrogate must complete necessary non-medical screening process, including a home visit by a licensed social worker and background checks.
- Match with an intended parent or prospective surrogate
- Enter into a surrogacy contract, with both parties represented by separate legal counsel
- Proceed with IVF and the medical process for surrogacy
- Complete any necessary parentage orders
- Have a successful birth and complete the surrogacy process
Of course, every surrogacy will differ based on any additional requirements (like sperm or egg donation) or steps that have already been completed when starting the process. But, when people talk about the surrogacy process, this is generally what they’re referring to.
3. Who are intended parents and prospective surrogates?
Intended parents come from all kinds of backgrounds. They may be single men or women, same-sex couples, or heterosexual couples struggling with infertility. One thing is the same: They are all determined to make their dreams of being parents come true.
Prospective surrogates are usually women who have already completed their family but are looking to help others. They have had children that they are raising themselves, and they must meet health screening requirements before they become a surrogate. Although surrogates often are compensated for their services, most surrogates choose surrogacy out of a desire to make a difference in the world and help someone struggling to build their family.
4. What are the different types of surrogacy?
Because each intended parent’s and surrogate’s goals for their surrogacy are different, there are several different kinds of surrogacy to meet their preferences. In addition to gestational and traditional surrogacy, here are some other kinds of surrogacy arrangements commonly completed today:
- Commercial surrogacy: Wherein a surrogate is provided base compensation for carrying the intended parents’ baby
- Altruistic or compassionate surrogacy: Wherein a surrogate does not require or ask for compensation beyond payment of required legal and medical expenses
- Independent surrogacy: Usually completed when a surrogate and intended parents find each other on their own and don’t require a surrogacy agency or matching program to coordinate their process (a lawyer, however, is still required)
- International surrogacy: When intended parents from another country wish to work with an American surrogate
When you work with the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson, we’ll help you decide what your surrogacy preferences and goals are. From there, we’ll determine what surrogacy options are best for you and help you move forward with the process.
5. How long has surrogacy been around?
Surrogacy is not a new concept, as traditional surrogacy has been around for centuries, dating back to Biblical times. However, the advance of gestational surrogacy has mainly taken place over the last 30 years, thanks to the growing field of assisted reproductive technology.
When artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization became possible, the first gestational surrogacy was able to be completed in 1985. While there were ethically questionable cases regarding traditional surrogacy leading up until then, they also established precedents for compensated surrogacy and surrogacy agreements — which have changed the world of surrogacy today. In fact, from 2004 to 2008, almost 5,000 children were born via surrogacy in the United States.
Because surrogacy is a rapidly changing field, the laws and legislation regarding the process are also changing as well. It’s important you work with attorney Jim Thompson and our office’s surrogacy program in South Carolina, as we stay up to date on the most recent surrogacy laws in the state.
6. Who do I have to work with to complete a surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a complicated process, so you will typically need to work with these professionals to make your surrogacy pregnancy a reality:
- A fertility clinic: They will complete your medical screening, IVF process and embryo transfer.
- A mental health professional: They will counsel intended parents and the surrogate, as well as her spouse (if married).
- A surrogacy lawyer: They will ensure you’ve covered all your legal bases, including a surrogacy contract and any necessary parentage orders. Although attorney Jim Thompson will represent the intended parents for any cases involving the Gestational Carrier Program, he will provide surrogates with referrals to independent legal counsel.
- An obstetrician: Just like with any pregnancy, a surrogate will need to keep in close contact with her personal doctor. The intended parents may be a part of these doctor’s visits.
- A surrogacy program/agency (optional): Surrogacy professionals provide matching services and case management for both intended parents and surrogates.
Again, because each surrogacy is unique, you may not need the assistance of a surrogacy agency or similar professional. For example, the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson provides matching and legal services — so you won’t need to pay a surrogacy agency, in addition to a surrogacy lawyer, if you still need to find an intended parent or prospective surrogate in South Carolina. Before you select a surrogacy professional, though, it’s important that you compile all your questions about surrogacy and know what to look for in the perfect surrogacy professional.
7. How do I get started with my surrogacy pregnancy in S.C.?
To begin your surrogacy process today, please contact the Law Offices of James Fletcher Thompson. Whether you’re an intended parent or prospective surrogate, we will take the time to sit down and discuss your surrogacy goals and expectations with you, explaining what our surrogacy program is like and what we require of our intended parents and surrogates.
To learn more, please give us a call at 864-573-5533.