These are the main types of professionals you can expect to work with throughout your surrogacy journey.
They say it takes a village to raise a child — but where surrogacy is concerned, this is true just to conceive one. Your surrogacy and IVF team, made up of a variety of professionals, will help guide you throughout your journey.
“I like to think of the parents and the surrogate in the center, kind of like the nucleus, and the team of professionals surrounding and supporting them — providing a foundation for them to have a really amazing and wonderful experience of having a baby,” said Victoria T. Ferrara, Founder and Legal Director, of Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists.
A reproductive endocrinologist will conduct medical screenings, create embryos and help your surrogate achieve pregnancy. A reproductive endocrinologist is a medical doctor who has completed 7 years of training after medical school who is sub specialized in using advanced fertility technology to help you have your child. You should be sure to work with a reproductive physician and IVF center who has extensive experience with surrogacy — and particularly with gay, bi and trans intended fathers.
“Not all reproductive physicians are familiar with surrogacy,” said Ferrara of Worldwide Surrogacy. “And we want to know that someone has a really good understanding of all the parties involved.” The doctor should understand the role of your gestational carrier and egg donor — and honor your identity as the intended parent. If you are partnered, and you both hope to have a genetic connection to a future child, your doctor should understand the importance of creating healthy embryos using two sperm sources.
Assisted reproductive attorney
You will need to negotiate legal contracts with your surrogate and egg donor, so hiring an attorney with extensive experience with these types of contracts is absolutely essential. Some surrogacy agencies have lawyers in-house and can help you navigate the legal aspects of the journey in addition to coordinating the overall journey. If your surrogacy agency does not have lawyers in-house, you will need to hire your own outside counsel. Your lawyer will help you navigate two critical issues:
1) The legality of surrogacy contracts in your state: “Every state has a different law as it relates to surrogacy and egg donation,” said said Sam Hyde, President and CEO of Circle Surrogacy. “You want to make sure you have a lawyer that understands the nuances in each state.”
2) Establishing parentage: Your lawyer will also need to understand the steps needed to establish your parental rights and to sever those of your surrogate’s. This is best done through obtaining a “pre-birth order” from a judge, which will establish you as the legal parent before the birth of your child. However, not all states permit pre-birth orders. In this instance, your lawyer will help you obtain a “post-birth order,” which will confer your legal parental status after the birth of your baby.
Mental health professionals
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends you, your surrogate and your donor — and each of your partners, where relevant — undergo screening by a trained mental health professional early on in the process. Your surrogate will undergo a comprehensive mental health screening well before your match is complete. “But it’s not uncommon for parents to get some counseling at the outset to help them uncover any concerns they have,” said Ferrara of Worldwide Surrogacy. These professionals can be helpful throughout the entire journey as well.
Fertility insurance experts
You will need the support of fertility insurance experts, who will help make sure both your surrogate and egg donor are properly covered. Your surrogacy agency should help facilitate that process. Even if the surrogate has her own health insurance that is approved to cover her maternity care during a pregnancy, parents should expect to compensate her for using that insurance, as well as paying her premiums and deductibles during the journey. If a journey spans the end of the year, you may pay be required to pay the deductible two times (as it resets at year-end). As a whole, maternity insurance for your surrogate is one of the most complicated aspects of a journey - and can lead to significant variability in the overall cost of the journey if it isn’t managed by an experienced professional. . You will also need a special form of insurance for your egg donor, as insurance companies do not cover the egg donation process.
In most instances, your surrogacy agency will assign a caseworker who will help support and guide you throughout your entire journey. At agencies with a great deal of experience, “this is someone who has helped coordinate hundreds of surrogacy journeys on behalf of clients, including both parents and surrogates,” said Hyde of Circle Surrogacy.
You will be working incredibly closely with your team of experts, it’s important that you feel comfortable with your professionals. Make sure to speak with several before making a decision. And see our founding member page for a listing of agencies and IVF Centers with a long track record of working with gay, bi and trans men.
Experts interviewed for this article: