As Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) become more advanced, surrogacy is becoming a very real and popular way of adding to one’s family. However, it is very important for intended parents and gestational carriers to protect themselves legally.
There are only five Missouri members of The American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (AAARTA), an exclusive non-profit association of the countrys most reputable attorneys who have experience in this area. AAARTA requires its applicants to have successfully completed at least 25 parentage actions and to have practiced law for at least 5 years before they are eligible for admission.
Mary Beck is the only attorney in central Missouri who is a member of AARTA. Mary is a former nurse practitioner whose first surrogacy case was in 1996 when she was asked by local physicians to perform the legal work of their collaborative reproductions. Marys daughter, Joanna, joined her practice in 2008 and together they have completed hundreds of successful parentage actions.
What is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a collaborative pregnancy that involves a gestational surrogate (sometimes called a gestational carrier) who carries a child or children for one or more intended parents. Sometimes, intended parents may require a gamete (sperm or ova donor) in the collaborative reproduction.
Common Misconceptions about Surrogacy:
Cant the gestational surrogate just relinquish her rights to the baby?
The term relinquish implies the use of adoption law. Surrogacy law is very different than adoption law. Intended parents and gestational surrogates should seek counsel who have specific experience in surrogacy law to protect themselves legally.
Can we just change the names on the babys birth certificate?
Establishing legal parentage after collaborative reproduction is far more complicated than simply changing the names on a birth certificate. Legal parentage via surrogacy involves an extensive legal process involving an agreement between the parties, informed consents at the medical clinics conducting embryo transfer, and a parentage action to which all parties must stipulate.
Do we really need two different attorneys for this?
Establishing legal parentage of a child is not the time to cut corners. Separate and independent attorneys should be involved to represent both gestational surrogate and intended parents. The amount of money saved by hiring only one attorney is nominal, but the risk of not doing so is immeasurable.
We found a sample surrogacy contract on the Internet. Can we use it?
An agreement between a gestational surrogate and intended parents is a recitation not only of the understandings between them, but of the current state of the law in Missouri and the parties intentions to rely on the specific parts of that law. To our knowledge, none of the contracts available on the Internet are specific to Missouri nor were written by experienced Missouri attorneys.
If you have any questions about surrogacy law in Missouri, please contact us.