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Surrogacy Law

If you are struggling to add to your family, you may have many questions about your family-building options — especially when it comes to gestational surrogacy. Just what is surrogacy, and how does it work in North Carolina? And most importantly, could surrogacy be right for your family?

Here’s what you need to know if you are considering surrogacy in North Carolina.

What is Gestational Surrogacy?

In gestational surrogacy, sometimes also called “full surrogacy” or “host surrogacy,” a fertilized embryo is transferred into the uterus of a surrogate or gestational carrier, who carries the child to term. The embryo is created using in vitro fertilization (IVF) with sperm and eggs from either the intended parents or anonymous donors. The surrogate herself has no genetic or biological relationship with the child — she simply acts as an incubator.

Who are the parties involved in a Surrogacy Pregnancy?

For the legal process of surrogacy, there are several parties involved:

  • Intended Parents – the individual or couple who have contracted with a surrogate to carry a baby for them. In most cases, the baby carried by the surrogate is genetically related to one or both of the intended parents.
  • Surrogate – the woman who carries the child for the intended parents; in addition to “surrogate,” she may be known as the “gestational carrier,” the “gestational mother” or the “gestational surrogate.”
  • Fertility Doctor – the physician who guides the intended parents through the process of IVF. While the fertility doctor will handle the implanting of the embryos into the surrogate, she will typically see her own OB/GYN for prenatal care.

An assisted reproduction attorney is another important part of every North Carolina surrogacy arrangement. Your attorney will guide you through the entire legal process of gestational surrogacy to ensure your child is protected and your parental rights are properly established.

The experienced attorneys of Herring & Mills, PLLC have successfully completed many surrogacies in North Carolina. To learn more about our surrogacy program and your surrogacy options, contact us today.

A little history about Surrogacy…

TestTubeBabyFirstLouise Brown

On July 25, 1978, Louise Brown became the first child born following in vitro fertilization (IVF). Louise’s parents spent nearly a decade trying to have a child to no avail due to her mother, Lesley Brown’s, blocked fallopian tubes. Having exhausted all options, the Browns met with Patrick Steptoe and his partner, Robert Edwards, two British physiologists who had devoted over ten years to creating a “test-tube baby.”

In November 1977, Edwards and Steptoe surgically extracted eggs from Lesley Brown’s uterus. They fertilized the eggs with sperm provided by her husband, John Brown, and successfully created embryos outside the human body. The embryos were then implanted in Lesley’s uterus and a month later, Drs. Edwards and Steptoe confirmed Lesley’s pregnancy. History was made.

35 years later…

Louise Brown’s birth marked a milestone in human reproductive technology and put in vitro fertilization (IVF) on the map. In the decades that followed, the number of couples using IVF to become pregnant has seen explosive growth. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies, about 61,000 IVF babies were born in the U.S. in 2012 — 1.5 percent of all births.

Experienced North Carolina Surrogacy Attorneys

Herring & Mills, PLLC has provided many individuals and couples with the legal representation necessary during assisted reproduction. Our experienced attorneys can assist you with your surrogacy agreement (also known as a Gestational Carrier Agreement), egg donor agreement, sperm donation, and in obtaining a pre-birth order.

You can find additional information about the legal process of surrogacy here. We encourage you to review this information and to schedule a consultation with our attorneys to learn how it all pertains to you. Contact us at 919 821-1860 to schedule an appointment for a consultation or for answers to general questions about surrogacy in North Carolina.

FAQs

Who usually chooses surrogacy as a way to build a family?

Heterosexual couples often choose surrogacy if they together cannot carry a baby to term. Often surrogacy is a first choice for single men, male couples or women who have had medical complications.

What are some of the advantages of surrogacy over adoption?

Intended parents who have viable sperm or egg can maintain a genetic link with the child they create with the help of a surrogate. Also, intended parents often have a close involvement with the surrogate and the prenatal care and most intended parents are present for the child’s birth.

Shouldn’t I be afraid of the possibility that the surrogate will want to keep the baby?

The media exploits stories of surrogates that have gone wrong. The reality is that those cases are a very small percentage of the surrogate cases each year in the United States. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate does not have a genetic link to the child, and her claim to the child is minimized by the lack of biological connection.

Why do surrogates and intended parents have to sign contracts?

Although North Carolina law does not have a statute or case law that offers guidance on what terms can be written into surrogacy contracts, surrogacy is alive and well in North Carolina. The contracts are important because the intended parents and the surrogate discuss and state clearly what they are agreeing on and what they each expect from the other. Contracts should be detailed and spell out the terms of compensation, health and life insurance, restricted activities and the contract may detail future contact, hospital involvement, etc.

What are the costs involved in surrogacy?

The total costs for surrogates range from $50,000 to $120,000. The largest part of the compensation is paid to the surrogate for her services in carrying a child. Generally surrogates are compensated between $20,000 to $45,000, and there is financial consideration given if the surrogate carries multiples. Medical fees range from $13,000 to $21,000 and include testing and medications for the egg donor and the carrier, egg retrieval and IVF. There will be additional costs for egg donors but frozen embryos are less expensive. Additional costs include health and life insurance, legal fees and travel and costs for psychological evaluations.

Assisted Reproductive Technology Glossary

Below are some terms commonly used when discussing Surrogacy or Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

Amniocentesis

A test used to conduct chromosomal problems done by testing the amniotic fluid around the baby. It is usually done 15-20 weeks into the pregnancy.

Artificial Insemination

The injection of sperm into the female vagina without sexual intercourse.

Beta testing

A blood test used to determine if a woman is pregnant approximately 10 days after the embryo transfer.

Cryopreservation

The process of freezing tissues or cells and then storing them in liquid nitrogen at very low temperatures; used to store sperm, embryos, and unfertilized eggs in small vials or straws that can last for decades

Donor Insemination

Artificial insemination that is not using the sperm from the male partner or husband.

Egg Donation

The process by which a fertile woman provides her eggs to an infertile woman for use in an ART procedure.

Egg Retrieval

The procedure for extraction of eggs from a woman’s follicles for use in IVF.

Idiopathic Infertility

Term used when the cause of an individual’s infertility cannot be determined.

Implantation

The embedding of an embryo usually in the lining of a woman’s uterus.

Incompetent cervix

A condition in which a pregnant woman’s cervix begins to dilate too soon, causing miscarriage.

Infertility

Medically, the inability to conceive a child after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse (six months if over the age of 35) or the inability of a woman to carry a child to term.

Embryo

A term that describes the time from which the egg is fertilized through the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Embryo transfer

The placement of an embryo into a woman’s uterus or Fallopian tube after IVF.

Fertilization

Occurs when sperm penetrates the egg.

Fetus

Medically, an embryo becomes a fetus after about seven weeks of pregnancy when the major structures (head, torso, limbs) have formed.

Gamete

Term for either the sperm or the egg.

Gestation

The medical term for pregnancy.

Gestational carrier

A type of surrogacy in which a surrogate mother is implanted with the genetic offspring of another couple and then turns the baby over to them at birth.

Ovum

The egg; the plural form of ovum is ova.

Post-Birth Order

A court issued order acquired after the birth of the child; typically, the post-birth order places one or both of the intended parents on the birth certificate and removes the gestational carrier from it, terminating the parental rights of the gestational carrier; these are not allowed in every state and may not be appropriate or available for every surrogacy arrangement.

Sperm

The microscopic cell that carries the male genetic information to the female’s egg; the male gamete.

Sperm count

The number of sperm in an ejaculate, given as the number of sperm cells per milliliter.

Testosterone

The male hormone responsible for supporting sex drive, it is necessary for sperm development.

Tubal pregnancy

The development and attachment of a fertilized egg in the Fallopian tubes.

Ultrasound

Allows the creation of images of organs and systems in the body using high frequency sound waves and is a method of confirming pregnancy, providing a picture of the child in the female’s uterus.