For people who cannot have their own children or are having difficulties doing so, surrogacy is an option. Many celebrities, including Nicole Kidman, Jimmy Fallon, and Robert DeNiro have employed surrogate mothers to carry and bear their children and surrogacy is increasingly gaining acceptance as a method of addressing infertility and obstacles to conception.
But finding, choosing, and using a surrogate mother can be complicated. Given the very emotional nature of this kind of deal, it's important that the contract be drafted by an expert who understands what is at stake and can protect the parties' interests.
Some parents prefer choosing a surrogate mother to carry their child over adoption. There are a number of advantages for those who can afford it or who have very generous family or friends willing to carry babies for them, which does sometimes happen. For example, last year a 51-year-old mother of three carried her grandchild for her daughter who lost her first child and for whom pregnancies were considered high risk.
Some of surrogacy's advantages are that the parents choose the mother and can have some element of control over the pregnancy because they are working with her. Also, there are various insemination options so that the surrogate may even be carrying the parents' biological child, depending on the circumstances.
Contracting with a surrogate is a delicate matter. There are numerous legal factors to consider and this agreement has clauses unlike most other deals. For example, it must specify how many attempts at impregnating the surrogate are planned, and state that she may not engage in sexual intercourse during this time (to prevent her from becoming pregnant with her own child).
Of course, the contract must also specify that the surrogate cannot terminate the pregnancy unless her own life is at risk, and that the surrogate may not jeopardize the health of the unborn child by drinking, smoking, and doing drugs. Similarly, the surrogate mother must agree to undergo all required medical procedures and more. Parents may specify that the surrogate only eats organic vegetables or raw foods or whatever their particular dietary preoccupation may be. Surrogates function as the vessel for the pregnancy, the rules of which are dictated by paying parents.
Surrogacy provides options to parents who cannot have kids but it can also create strange wrinkles if the parents split. Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania court refused to allow Sherry Shepherd -- actress and former hostess of "The View" -- to appeal an order that she provide child support for a child from a surrogate who is in the custody of her ex-husband. Shepherd and her ex filed for divorce seven months into a surrogate's pregnancy and the actress sought to terminate the surrogacy agreement then. It didn't work and she has been ordered to support the child she commissioned until he is 18 years old, just like any parent.
Interested in Surrogacy?
If you are interested in surrogacy or adoption, speak to a lawyer about your options. Many family law attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.