The Surrogacy Process

Because gestational surrogacy is an ever-changing area of medicine, lawmakers often cannot keep up with the changes—which can make the gestational surrogacy process in Arizona a bit complicated. Therefore, it is important you contact an experienced surrogacy attorney, like Heather Strickland, before moving forward with your gestational pregnancy.

In the modern age of assisted reproduction, families can be made in many ways. For intended parents who cannot carry a child to term themselves (whether due to infertility or a male same-sex relationship or as a single male), surrogacy provides an opportunity to have a biologically related child. But how does surrogacy work? Medicine continues to advance quickly, so the gestational surrogacy process may be slightly different for each couple.

How Surrogacy Works in Arizona

Putting aside the laws involved (which will vary based on your situation), here’s a typical gestational surrogacy process, step-by-step:

Step 1: Decide that Surrogacy is Right for You

Deciding to become parents through gestational surrogacy is a huge commitment—not only in the amount of time and money you’ll spend through the process, but also in the emotional journey you’ll take. Becoming a gestational carrier, while free to you, will also require a great deal of time, effort, and emotional energy. That’s why it’s so important that you do diligent research before deciding to pursue gestational surrogacy.

Contact an experienced surrogacy lawyer to learn how surrogacy works in Arizona and what your family-building journey may look like. We also recommend you discuss your decision with close friends and family, consider the pros and cons, and speak to several fertility clinics or assisted reproduction professionals to determine which path is right for you.

Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about becoming a gestational carrier or becoming parents through gestational surrogacy:

Prospective Carriers

  • How will your pregnancy affect your family: By becoming a gestational carrier in Arizona, you will commit a year or more of your life to helping someone else become parents. While it’s a noble decision to make, you should consider whether you are comfortable taking time you usually spend with your family and putting it toward doctor’s appointments and other surrogacy-related commitments.
  • How will your pregnancy affect your career: A pregnancy can make maintaining your usual work schedule difficult, especially as you approach your due date. Will your work allow you to take time off for a pregnancy, even if it’s not your child? Can you still complete your duties successfully while devoting time to medical and psychological evaluations and procedures?
  • How will your pregnancy affect you: Finally, you’ll need to think about what it will be like carrying a child for another family. Many gestational carriers embrace this opportunity and find it empowering, but you’ll need to consider whether you’re emotionally and mentally ready to give birth to another person’s baby. Keep in mind that not all journeys are successful on the first try, either. However, becoming a gestational carrier can provide life-changing financial benefits and create long-lasting relationships with the family you helped create.

Intended Parents

  • The financial commitment: It’s no secret that the gestational surrogacy process is expensive. Not only will you need to pay for all the medical aspects of the gestational surrogacy procedure, but you will likely need to provide your carrier with financial compensation. Costs can be very expensive with fertility treatments, especially if it takes multiple attempts to secure a gestational pregnancy.
  • The time commitment: The surrogacy process is long—from deciding whether it’s right for you, to matching with the perfect carrier, to the medical transfer procedures, to the final birth of your child.
  • The emotional commitment: Because gestational pregnancies may not succeed right away, the gestational surrogacy process can be emotionally draining. You’ll need to make sure you’re prepared for these risks and are able to handle any disappointments that come along the way. A solid support system of family and friends is critical to remaining strong throughout the gestational surrogacy process.

Step 2: Complete Background Screening

Whether you’re an intended parent or prospective carrier, you will need to undergo extensive background clearances and screenings to ensure you’re ready for the process of surrogacy. This can include:

  • Fertility testing and IVF treatment for intended parents
  • Medical preparation for embryo transfer for carriers
  • Federal and state background checks
  • Home assessments for intended parents and gestational carrier
  • Medical and psychological screenings and evaluations
  • And more

Step 3: Match with Intended Parents or a Carrier

Gestational surrogacy is a two-party process involving intended parents and the woman who will carry their child. Therefore, an important part of the surrogacy process is finding the right match.

When you work with a professional, they will likely find the perfect match for you based on your preferences, which can include everything from a carrier’s desired compensation, to intended parents’ qualities, to medical history of either party.

This professional will likely create a profile of you (whether you’re an intended parent or prospective carrier), which will then be shown to intended parents or carriers to help them find the perfect match for their situation. If you both show interest in the match, that professional will connect you and you may get the chance to know each other better through phone calls, emails, or in-person meetings. After the match is finalized, the drafting of the legal surrogacy agreement will begin.

If you have already found a match for your gestational pregnancy, you may only need to work with an experienced attorney to complete your surrogacy journey. Contact us today to find out what you need to consider moving forward.

Step 4: Create an Agreement

Because Arizona law regarding surrogacy agreements can be complicated, you will need to contact an experienced legal professional for this step. A professional can help navigate the complexities of surrogacy laws in different states and protect you from any legal repercussions that could emerge as you draft your surrogacy agreement.

Step 5: Begin the Medical Process of Surrogacy

Intended parents will create their own embryos (either with their own gametes or with a combination of donated egg or sperm). This embryo will then be transferred to the carrier’s uterus—she will have no biological relation to the child she is carrying.

When you move forward with the gestational surrogacy process, both the intended parents and the carrier will have to take fertility medication at some point—to create the embryo or to prepare for the embryo transfer. This can be a complicated medical process that may not be immediately successful.

Step 6: Establish Parentage

There can be many legal complications when it comes to surrogacy but, fortunately, how to get a parentage order (also known as a pre-birth order) in Arizona and secure your parental rights to your child born via surrogacy can be a fairly simple process—with the right legal representation.

We are experienced in pre-birth orders and post-birth orders and obtaining proof of parentage if your child has been created through assisted reproductive technology. Because we stay up-to-date on the most recent laws regarding parentage orders (pre-birth orders) in surrogacy, we know how to efficiently protect your parental rights in the way that works best for your situation.

To discuss how to get a parentage order (pre-birth order) in Arizona with our law firm, you can call us any time at 520-327-6041. In the meantime, we’ve answered some of the questions you may have about pre-birth orders and parentage orders in Arizona.

When talking about pre-birth and parentage orders, it’s important to know how the state will define “parentage.” Generally speaking, “parentage” means “the identity and origin of one’s parents.” But, with the advent of assisted reproductive technology, determining parentage in surrogacy is not as simple as it is for a child conceived naturally.

A parentage order (also known as a pre-birth order) allows intended parents to prove the child born via surrogacy is biologically and legally theirs. However, the term “pre-birth” can be misleading in Arizona because whether or not these orders can be issued before the child is born depends on which county a case is filed and the judge assigned to your case.

As mentioned above, the timeline for parentage orders or pre-birth orders in Arizona will vary by county. You’ll need to consult with us to determine whether or not your parentage order will be issued before your child is born.

However, just because a parentage order may not be issued before a baby is born doesn’t mean you have to wait to start the process. We can help you collect all the documents you need during the last months of the pregnancy and have the parentage order ready to file as soon as your child is born, if necessary.

Because Arizona laws regarding this kind of parentage have not kept up with modern technology, it’s important that you work with a lawyer to complete these orders. Protecting your parental rights is a top priority, and we have extensive experience in completing parentage orders involving donated gametes. Your questions regarding parentage orders need to be answered based on your specific circumstances, so contact us today for a consultation.

Step 7: Welcome the Baby

After the medical process has been completed, it will be a waiting game until the baby is born nine months later. Providing support to all involved in the gestational surrogacy birth is crucial to creating a lasting relationship during the pregnancy and beyond.

When the baby is born, it will be a life-changing experience for both the intended parents and the carrier. Usually, both parties will be present at the birth of the child. Once the carrier and baby are discharged, both the new family and the carrier can return home, as long as the proper parentage orders have been completed by the appropriate legal professional. Whether or not you choose to continue your relationship after the baby is born will be up to you, but in many cases, your surrogacy professional may help facilitate this relationship, if necessary.

Contact an experienced surrogacy law firm, like us, to learn about how surrogacy works in Arizona and what your family-building journey may look like.