National Birth Defects Prevention Month

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. This month focuses on raising awareness of birth defects, how they’re caused, the affect they have and how some can be prevented. Through National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the hope is that those who are affected by birth defects can live healthier, longer lives, and that those who are growing their families remain unaffected by birth defects.

What Is a Birth Defect?

There are many kinds of birth defects, and they can affect people in many different ways. Here are some important facts that everyone should know about birth defects:

  • Any complication that is presented at birth that alters the body’s appearance, function, or both is considered a birth defect.
  • One in 33 babies is born in the United States with a birth defect.
  • The severity of birth defects can range from moderate to critical, even causing death.
  • Birth defects are a leading cause of infant mortality.
  • Most birth defects occur during the first trimester.
  • Although some defects are detectable during gestation or at birth, some defects may not be identified until later in the person’s life, especially if the defect hadn’t caused noticeable health problems for the person.

How Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) is Helping to Decrease Birth Defects in Surrogacy

In gestational surrogacy, preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) is routinely conducted to help prevent birth defects. PGS checks the embryos used in surrogacy for potential genetic diseases or disorders that could result in a birth defect before they’re transferred to a surrogate to carry. Here’s how PGS works:

  • A few cells are microsurgically removed from the embryos being tested after they’ve been developing for about five days, at which point the embryos are frozen.
  • The DNA of those cells is examined to see if certain genes which could cause harmful defects are visible. This stage takes a minimum of one week.
  • If the embryos have no concerning genetic issues, an embryo (or multiple embryos) will be transferred to the gestational surrogate in the hopes of a successful implantation.

In addition to PGS, prenatal screening is also routinely done later in the gestational surrogate’s pregnancy to catch any other potential health concerns. The health and safety of gestational surrogates as well as the baby are the two primary goals in surrogacy, so PGS and prenatal screening are both important to achieving that.

What You Can Do

Many of the causes behind birth defects are unknown, but there are always efforts being made to better understand and prevent birth defects whenever possible. Here’s what you can do:

As a Surrogate…

Gestational surrogates must meet a fairly strict list of physical requirements. This is designed to limit the risk of health problems for the surrogate as well as the baby. Surrogates must be generally healthy, have already given birth with no pregnancy complications, have a healthy BMI, be free of STDs, be smoke- and drug-free, be financially stable, meet age requirements and meet other important health criteria.

These health requirements may make it less likely for birth defects to occur, but even the healthiest gestational surrogate can’t guarantee that a child she carries won’t develop a birth defect, as much as she’d like to protect the baby from health issues. If you’re a surrogate, most of the strategies for preventing birth defects are the basics of maintaining a healthy pregnancy. This includes:

  • Seeing your OBGYN for regular prenatal checkups. Some defects can be caught early and treated or prevented before birth.
  • Staying healthy by eating right, drinking lots of water, exercising regularly (light to moderate), getting plenty of sleep and of course avoiding smoke, drugs, alcohol and other unhealthy habits.
  • Taking your prenatal vitamins, especially daily iron, which can reduce the risk of anemia, as well as daily folic acid, which has been shown to reduce the occurrence of birth defects in the baby’s spine and brain.
  • Reducing your stress. Stress hormones can be transferred to the baby through amniotic fluid and can negatively affect development, so rest, meditate and try to stay relaxed.

Remember that you can do everything right and a child may still be born with a birth defect. Although this is a frightening thought for surrogates who feel responsible for the safety and health of the intended parents’ child, understand that most of the time, these things are out of anyone’s control. Keeping yourself healthy is the best thing you can do for the intended parents’ baby!

As an Intended Parent…

Again, there is no 100 percent guarantee that a child will be free of birth defects. However, there are a few things that you can do as an intended parent to reduce the risk of birth defects when you’re having a child via surrogacy, including:

  • Using donor gametes if you or your spouse has a genetic disorder that you’re worried about passing on.
  • Obtaining a detailed family health history on both sides whenever possible.
  • Having PGS completed on your embryos prior to embryo transfer with your gestational surrogate to ensure your embryo(s) are healthy and free of potential defects.

An important thing to consider as an intended parent: what would you want to do if one or more of your embryos had a genetic disorder that would lead to a birth defect? This possibility can be difficult to think about, but it is something you’ll need to consider before you complete PGS.

As a Person Who Cares…

If you’ve been affected by birth defects, know someone with a birth defect, or you simply want to help raise awareness and offer support, everyone can step up during National Birth Defects Prevention Month. Here are a few simple ways you can join the cause:

  • Join the #Prevent2Protect Thunderclap to raise awareness of National Birth Defects Prevention Month and to sign up to share a unified, simultaneous message of support across social media.
  • Share your story with the hashtag #1in33 This is Me if you or someone you love has been affected by a birth defect, and help others to feel supported and understood.
  • Share factual information about health, and how steps can be taken to prevent some birth defects by using the hashtag #Prevent2Protect when you share that information.

How will you participate during National Birth Defects Prevention Month? Let us know in the comments.

Washington State Welcomes New Year with New Surrogacy Laws

This year marks the beginning of a new era for surrogacy in Washington, thanks to newly enacted legislation regarding the gestational surrogacy process.

Starting this month, intended parents and gestational carriers in Washington state will follow a set of standards and regulations that makes their surrogacy experience safer than ever before. While the state’s laws were severely anti-surrogacy prior to 2019, the new laws passed last year (and being enacted this month) provide a clear path ahead for those interested in gestational surrogacy.

So, what are the biggest changes that this new legislation brings? Find a breakdown of some of the most important points below:

1. Compensated surrogacy is now legal and enforceable.

Up until this month, compensated surrogacy in Washington was illegal. But, the passage of the Uniform Parentage Act last March changed all that. Today, intended parents and gestational carriers can enter into legally binding compensated surrogacy contracts for the benefit of all involved.

Washington contracts can now provide for surrogate “payment of consideration and reasonable expenses and reimbursement of specific expenses if the agreement is terminated.”

For more information about surrogate base compensation, contact our surrogacy specialists today.

2. Enforceable contracts must meet certain standards.

Following other states, Washington state requires intended parents and gestational carriers to meet certain requirements for their surrogacy contract to be legally enforceable.

In order for a woman to become a gestational carrier, she must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Previously have given birth to at least one child, but not have entered into more than two surrogacy agreements
  • Complete a medical evaluation
  • Complete a mental health consultation
  • Have independent legal representation

In order for intended parents to enter into a surrogacy contract, they must:

At least one party to the agreement must be a resident of Washington. The surrogate’s spouse must be a party to the agreement, and the agreement must be executed before any medical procedures can occur.

A legal gestational surrogacy contract will include:

  • The acknowledgement that a surrogate and her spouse have no claim to the child born
  • The acknowledgement that the intended parents will take custody of and responsibility for the child
  • Information on how the intended parents will cover the expenses of the carrier
  • Information on surrogate base compensation
  • And more

For more information on what a legal contract in this state requires, speak to a local Washington surrogacy attorney.

3. Both parents of children born via gestational carrier are treated as legal parents from the start.

The new legislation states “on birth of a child conceived by assisted reproduction under a gestational surrogacy agreement, each intended parent is, by operation of law, the parent of the child.” This means that all intended parents can receive pre-birth orders that will be enforced once the child is born.

This eliminates the complicated business of post-birth parentage orders and adoptions that some unrelated or unmarried intended parents previously had to complete in Washington.

4. Traditional surrogacy remains legal but with additional requirements.

Traditional surrogacy, denoted as “genetic surrogacy” in the new legislation, is available in Washington state. However, new stipulations have been established for intended parents and surrogates taking this route.

All traditional surrogacy contracts must meet the same standards as gestational surrogacy contracts. In addition to these terms, there are specific rules regarding termination of contracts. Intended parents may terminate the surrogacy contract any time prior to the embryo or gamete transfer. A traditional surrogate may withdraw consent any time before 48 hours after the birth of the child. When she does so, she waives all right to compensation, and her parental rights may be upheld, depending on the legal situation. However, she is not automatically assumed to be the legal parent of the child.

5. Children born of gamete donors have new rights.

The Uniform Parentage Act doesn’t just address surrogacy; it addresses many different aspects of assisted reproduction technology. Now, any child conceived by assisted reproduction has the right to request identifying information about their biological parent and/or notify their biological parent of their request. Even if the donor is anonymous, the child born of a gamete donation and their parent has the right to access non-identifying medical history.

American Surrogacy is thrilled to help intended parents and gestational carriers in Washington reach their surrogacy dreams under this new surrogacy-friendly legislation. For more information about working with our agency, or to start your surrogacy process today, please call 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

A Year in Review: The Biggest Surrogacy News from 2018

As 2018 comes to an end, it’s always helpful to look back on the last 12 months.  Whether your year included a surrogacy journey or not, you probably had some ups and downs along the way. Reflection can be incredibly helpful before looking to the future.

At American Surrogacy, we take that ideal to heart. While our agency has grown a lot in the years since we were created, we know there is always room for improvement — both for our team and for our intended parents and gestational carriers. We are proud of the journey we took through 2018, and we are even more excited for what 2019 will hold for our agency.

As the year winds down, we take a look back at some of the most memorable moments in the surrogacy industry over the last 12 months — just in case you missed them.

At American Surrogacy…

Our surrogacy specialists have been hard at work all year helping intended parents and gestational carriers prepare for the surrogacy process. Since January, they have guided many of our clients through the steps of this journey, from screening to matching to delivery. In fact, we have many gestational carriers and intended parents at different steps in this process as we close out the year.

We are also happy to announce that American Surrogacy helped to bring more babies into the world in 2018 than we did in 2017 — and we are on track to do the same in 2019!

In U.S. Legislation…

This year was a big year in terms of changes in U.S. surrogacy law. While there still remains no federal legislation overseeing this family-building process, a few states have taken important steps to making gestational surrogacy more widely available to those who wish to pursue this path.

The most notable changes in state laws came from one of the states with the most complicated relationship with surrogacy — New Jersey. It was in New Jersey back in 1985 that a traditional surrogate went on to sue for custody of the intended parents’ child in what would be known as the “Baby M.” case. Shortly after, New Jersey laws were put into place banning surrogacy of all kinds. But, this year, legislators now allow for enforceable gestational surrogacy contracts in the state, as long as they meet certain legal requirements.

Other states have also taken steps to make surrogacy more readily available. Starting Jan. 1, intended parents and gestational carriers in Washington will be able to enter into enforceable compensated gestational surrogacy contracts, as per a law signed last March. A New York state task force also issued a recommendation that the state do away with its ban on commercial surrogacy, although no further steps have yet been taken toward this goal.

In Pop Culture…

Gestational surrogacy became a household name in 2018, thanks to Kim Kardashian West and husband Kanye West. Kardashian West had announced late in 2017 that she and West were expecting a child via gestational carrier after her previous two pregnancies had complications that would make a third incredibly dangerous.

In January, the couple’s third child, Chicago, arrived via gestational carrier. The most recent season of “Keeping Up with the Kardashian” documented parts of the couple’s gestational pregnancy, and Kardashian West opened up to several publications about their decision and their experience during the family-building process. She even took the chance to educate her audience about the reality of gestational surrogacy:

“I refer to her as a surrogate, but it’s completely my and Kanye’s DNA, so technically that’s called a gestational carrier,” she told Elle. “A surrogate is when they use the husband’s sperm and the surrogate’s egg.”

She lauded the gestational surrogacy process on “Live with Kelly and Ryan”:

“I really, really enjoyed the surrogacy process,” she said. “I will say, when it came to the breastfeeding time, I was like, ‘Okay, this is the best decision I have ever made…’ I can spend so much more time with the older kids and getting them used to the baby.”

Kardashian West wasn’t the only celebrity to announce their surrogacy journeys this year. Olympian Tom Daley and husband Dustin Lance Black welcomed a son through gestational surrogacy in June, and actress Gabrielle Union and her husband Dwayne Wade welcomed a baby girl in November. TV personality Maria Menounos has also been open about her consideration of gestational surrogacy as a family-building method (with guidance from Kardashian West, no less).

We love the openness with which these celebrities have discussed their personal surrogacy journey in the past year, and we look forward to more conversations about non-traditional family-building from those in the spotlight!

As we wrap up 2018, our team at American Surrogacy wishes everyone a happy New Year and only the best in the surrogacy journeys to come in 2019!

Is starting your surrogacy journey your New Year’s Resolution? Contact our surrogacy specialists today to get started.

Happy Holidays from American Surrogacy!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from American Surrogacy & American Adoptions

From all of us at American Surrogacy, Merry Christmas and happy holidays! This time of year reminds us how incredibly lucky we are to help create families through surrogacy as well as adoption at our sister agency, American Adoptions.

Every year around the holidays, our families send us cards, notes and photos. We love seeing your families get bigger, your kids grow up and hearing about how you’re all doing.

No matter how your family came to be, we’re glad to have been a part of yours. You’ll always be a part of ours!

The holidays can be a difficult time for those who haven’t completed their family yet. You can talk to a surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) or an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION if you’re ready to begin your journey to becoming a parent.

Learning About Gestational Diabetes for World Diabetes Day 2018

This Wednesday, Nov. 14, is World Diabetes Day — a day designed to bring awareness to the millions of people around the world living with different types of diabetes. As a surrogacy professional, American Surrogacy recognizes the importance of this day for many of our intended parents and gestational carriers, and we join with the International Diabetes Federation to help bring attention to this important issue.

But, because we are professionals who frequently deal with pregnant women, there is one important type of diabetes that we wish to highlight today: gestational diabetes.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Like other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how well your cells can convert sugar — leading to a high blood sugar and other potential complications. The key difference is that gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy.

There is no clear reason why some women develop gestational diabetes. Some doctors believe the elevated levels of hormones during pregnancy interfere with the action of insulin — the hormone that helps convert glucose into energy. Therefore, some women will experience a rise in blood sugar that can put themselves and the unborn baby at risk.

Often, pregnant women can control gestational diabetes with diet, exercise and medication. Controlling this condition is imperative; left unchecked, gestational diabetes can have serious effects on a woman’s health.

In most cases of gestational diabetes, blood sugar levels will return to normal soon after the baby is delivered. But, if a woman has previously had gestational diabetes, she is more at risk for developing it again during pregnancy or developing type 2 diabetes. Early intervention from a doctor is key to reducing the risks of this condition during pregnancy.

Who is at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?

Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes, which is why a proper prenatal screening is so important in all pregnancies, including gestational pregnancies. But, there are a few important risk factors to be aware of:

  • Being over the age of 25
  • Having prediabetes or a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Having gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, previously delivering a baby more than 9 pounds, or having an unexplained stillbirth
  • Having a BMI of 30 or higher
  • Being of a nonwhite race

If you choose to become a gestational carrier, your reproductive endocrinologist will review your medical history and complete certain screenings to determine your risk of developing gestational diabetes during this journey.

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect the Surrogacy Process?

Gestational diabetes can be an unpredictable condition, and some gestational carriers develop it during their surrogate pregnancies. Rest assured: Your surrogacy and medical professional will always be there to support you through this challenge, should it emerge.

But, you may be asking: If I have a history of gestational diabetes, can I still become a gestational carrier?

The answer to this question always depends upon your personal medical history. While women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes will often be disqualified from the surrogacy process, women who have had gestational diabetes may still be eligible. If your condition was successfully managed with a change in diet and exercise during your previous pregnancy, it will be more likely that a fertility clinic will approve you to move forward with this journey.

If you have a history of gestational diabetes, make sure to be honest with your surrogacy professional about your health history. Moving forward with a gestational pregnancy without acknowledging this fact can put you and the intended parents’ baby in real danger.

Diabetes affects about 9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World Diabetes Day is one of the ways advocates work to spread awareness about this number — and the work being done to reduce this number in the future. We at American Surrogacy are happy to share information about this day and how you can get involved.

For more information about gestational diabetes and how it could affect your surrogacy journey, please call our specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

4 Facts to Know for Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month

For many intended parents, the path to surrogacy is paved with grief, loss and seemingly insurmountable hurdles. For some, one of those hurdles is gynecologic cancer.

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, and when a hopeful parent learns that their cancer or treatment could impact their ability to have children naturally, they must deal with the added emotional challenges of overcoming infertility. And, because infertility is sometimes still considered a taboo subject, many patients don’t get the support or understanding they need as they grieve this loss.

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month and, at American Surrogacy, we want to take the time to acknowledge the struggles that many women experience when faced with this illness — especially when they’re trying to have children.

If you are considering surrogacy as a result of infertility due to cancer, know that our specialists are always here to support you and answer any questions you may have. Surrogacy is not right for everyone, but it has offered hope to many women like you.

In honor of Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month, here are five things everyone should know about cancer, infertility and their family-building options.

1. There are many types of gynecologic cancer.

“Gynecologic cancer” is a broad term that refers to cancer of the reproductive organs in women. There are many types of gynecologic cancer, including cancer of the cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina and vulva.

2. All women are at risk.

Cancer does not discriminate. While a woman’s risk may increase with age, genetics and certain lifestyle factors, any woman can develop gynecological cancer. More than 90,000 women are diagnosed each year — in America, that’s one woman diagnosed every six minutes.

3. Women are often unaware of the signs and symptoms.

The symptoms of gynecologic cancer vary based on the type and stage of cancer. Early detection is key to treatment, so it is important to be proactive about your health. Learn the signs and symptoms of different types of gynecologic cancers, and be sure to attend routine screening appointments to catch any problems early on.

4. Gynecologic cancer doesn’t mean you can’t have children.

Not all gynecologic cancer will result in the loss of fertility. Depending on the specific type of cancer and the stage at which it is diagnosed, fertility preservation is sometimes possible.

However, even when treatment will impact a woman’s fertility, it doesn’t necessarily mean she cannot add a child to her family. She may have the option to preserve her eggs for later use in gestational surrogacy, or she may choose to use donated eggs to complete the surrogacy process. Other times, survivors pursue adoption or other another family-building option.

Of course, in these scenarios, it’s always important for women to grieve the loss of having a biological child or carrying a pregnancy themselves — but once you do work through these struggles, know that motherhood can still be an option for you.

If you are ready to begin your family-building process today, or if you would like to know more about using surrogacy to have a child after gynecologic cancer, call a surrogacy specialist today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Israelis Protest New Surrogacy Laws Discriminating Against LGBT Parents

Surrogacy in countries outside of the United States continues to be a complicated process — and recent developments in Israel suggest the issue isn’t getting easier anytime soon.

The government of Israel enacted a new law this week that now extends surrogacy rights to single women. However, right-wing legislators also rejected an amendment that would have included same-sex couples and allowed gay men to father children through surrogates, reported the New York Times. The decision came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed his support after opposition from his Orthodox coalition.

In response, LGBT activists and protestors flooded the streets this weekend to protest the decision. One gay couple marched with their children born via surrogacy in Israel, saying, “We came to support others who also want to be able to establish a family but can’t because a religious minster tells us we’re not allowed to.”

With this restriction in place, hopeful gay dads would have to complete international surrogacy, a process that can cost exorbitant amounts of money and come with many ethical and legal risks. While surrogacy in the United States does offer a safe solution, it is a process that is cost-prohibitive for many hopeful parents.

The protests in the streets of Israel indicate a growing acceptance of not only LGBT rights but of surrogacy itself in this country. One can only hope it’s also an indication of future surrogacy understanding and acceptance across the world.

Stay tuned for more reports from the New York Times on developments with this law.

If you are considering surrogacy in the United States, please contact American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) for more information about this process.

Creating Three-Parent Babies: The Facts About This Controversial Procedure

It’s a well-known fact that assisted reproductive technology is advancing at a rate faster than anyone could have imagined. In one way, these advances are providing new opportunities to families facing infertility around the world. On the other hand, the rapid changes raise concerns for professionals and others. Are these changes too much too quickly?

A new report out of Kiev, Ukraine, highlights those worries. In an effort to create the healthiest embryo possible for transfer to a woman’s uterus, doctors have done the previously impossible — created an embryo with the DNA of three people, or a “three-parent baby.”

An NPR investigation describes how it works: Two eggs are fertilized, one with the egg and sperm of the intended parents, and the other with the sperm of the intended father and the egg of a donor. When the embryos are ready, a doctor extracts the DNA from the intended parents’ embryo. They also remove the DNA from the donor-egg embryo, except the mitochondrial DNA. Then, the intended parents’ DNA is inserted into the donor-egg embryo, creating a three-person embryo that contains genetic material from the intended father, the intended mother and the egg donor.

Often, using three genetic parents provides an opportunity for a healthier embryo, if the defect in the intended mother’s mitochondrial DNA has been preventing her from getting pregnant. In Kiev, out of 21 attempted procedures, 14 have failed — but the other seven women have either had “three-parent” babies or are currently pregnant.

It’s a stunning advance in reproductive technology. Foreign intended parents can complete this procedure for about $15,000. However, it is unregulated and untested, and other professionals warn against the risks of creating “three-parent” babies. They say there is no way to know how these genetic manipulations will affect children as they grow older. In other words, the cheaper cost of the procedure is not worth the medical and legal unknowns and risks.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration prohibits this kind of genetic editing in the United States. Therefore, American Surrogacy stands with those professionals against this procedure. Until more standardized testing and screening has been done, this kind of assisted reproductive technology is simply too risky — both for the intended parents completing this procedure and the baby with three parents born from it.

We understand the appeal of “three-parent babies,” especially to give an intended mother the chance to be related to her child. However, if a woman cannot become pregnant on her own, she always has the option of gestational surrogacy — in which she can potentially be genetically related to her child, carried to term by a healthy and fertile gestational surrogate.

Unlike creating embryos with three parents, the gestational surrogacy process is a safe and legal one. Every intended parent and surrogate goes through rigorous screening to ensure this is the best path for their situation, and they are protected with an extensive, detailed surrogacy contract. Working with an agency like American Surrogacy provides more security with an experienced specialist’s guidance every step of the way.

As always, if you are interested in gestational surrogacy, you can contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) today. Intended parents can also contact a fertility clinic for more guidance on which assisted reproductive technologies are possible and suggested in their situation. One thing is for sure: Until the FDA approves the process of creating “three-parent babies,” it is one that all American intended parents should make sure to avoid.

5 Things to Know About the Updated New Jersey Surrogacy Laws

As the home of the notorious “Baby M.” case, New Jersey has always had a complicated relationship with surrogacy. For many years, both traditional and gestational surrogacy contracts in this state were unenforceable — but recent developments in New Jersey surrogacy laws have now opened up this family-building process to many more intended parents and surrogates.

The amended New Jersey law introduces several new aspects. Let’s break them down:

1. Gestational surrogacy is now enforceable in New Jersey.

Before these amendments, neither traditional nor gestational surrogacy contracts were expressly permitted and enforceable by state laws. Now, if a gestational surrogacy meets certain requirements, it is enforceable by New Jersey laws.

2. Only certain expenses can be paid to a surrogate.

While this is not a “new” law, per se, it is laid out in a way that it had not been prior to this legal update. Gestational surrogacy agreements are only enforceable if a surrogacy is altruistic. Intended parents can pay for certain “reasonable” expenses of the surrogate, including legal costs and reasonable living expenses. However, gestational surrogates in New Jersey cannot be paid a base compensation.

This addition to the law reflects the standing tradition of treating surrogacy expenses as similar to those of an adoption, a practice which continues to apply to traditional surrogacy, as well.

3. Intended parents and gestational surrogates must meet certain eligibility requirements.

In order for intended parents and gestational surrogates to enter into a legal surrogacy agreement in New Jersey, they must meet new requirements:

  • Surrogate
    • Be at least 21 years of age
    • Has given birth to at least one child
    • Has completed a medical and psychological examination
    • Has retained an independent attorney for the agreement drafting process
  • Intended Parent(s)
    • Has completed a psychological examination
    • Has retained an independent attorney for the agreement drafting process

4. Gestational surrogacy agreements must follow certain steps to be deemed legal and enforceable.

New Jersey laws now have specific requirements for the way gestational surrogacy agreements must be created. First, the agreement must always be executed in writing by the gestational carrier, her spouse (if applicable), and each intended parent. Both parties (surrogate and intended parents) must be represented by separate attorneys during this process.

Before an agreement can be drafted, the surrogate and the intended parents must have completed their required screenings (see above) and be deemed fit for the challenges and rewards of the surrogacy process.

The contract must expressly state:

  • A surrogate’s intention to:
    • Undergo pre-embryo transfer and attempt to carry and give birth to a child
    • Surrender custody of the child after the child is born
    • Have the right to medical care of her choosing after she notifies the intended parent(s) in writing
  • The surrogate’s spouse’s agreement to those terms
  • An intended parent’s intention to:
    • Accept custody of the child after the child’s birth
    • Assume sole responsibility for the support of the child after birth

If an agreement meets all of these specifications, surrogacy officials will deem it enforceable and provide a safe path for the parties moving forward.

5. Intended parents can obtain a pre-birth order in a gestational surrogacy.

If a gestational surrogacy contract is enforceable, it also protects the rights of the intended parents to receive a pre-birth parentage order — regardless of their marital status or genetic connection to their child. A petition for a parentage order must include affidavits from both parties and their attorneys, as well as the medical facility that performed the embryo transfer.

After the birth of the child, the State Registrar will grant a birth certificate naming the intended parent(s) as the parent(s) of the child.

While these are the basics of the updated New Jersey surrogacy laws, the legal process of every surrogacy is unique and can hold certain considerations. The information in this article is in no way intended as legal advice; intended parents and surrogates in New Jersey should always speak with a local surrogacy attorney for more guidance on the new laws and what they mean for their surrogacy journey.

The specialists at American Surrogacy can always provide references to trusted surrogacy attorneys in New Jersey, as well as provide counseling and information if you are interested in surrogacy in New Jersey. For more information, please contact our agency today at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

How You Can Help #FliptheScript for National Infertility Awareness Week

This week, April 22–28, is National Infertility Awareness Week — a time for all people, regardless of how infertility affects them, to reflect on the current state of infertility in the U.S. and spread awareness about these struggles that do affect so many.

Organized by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, National Infertility Awareness Week has existed since 1989 as a way to “reduce stigma and educate the public about reproductive health and issues that make building a family so difficult for so many.” In fact, 1 in 8 (or 15 percent) of couples in the United States struggle with infertility today.

This year’s theme is “#FliptheScript,” in an effort to clear up the misinformation about infertility that exists and educate the public about the true state of American infertility. It’s more than just numbers; infertility is a deeply personal experience that affects more people than many believe.

You can participate in National Infertility Awareness Week and help #FliptheScript in several ways:

1. Share your story.

For those unaffected by infertility, this difficult struggle can be hard to grasp. To help spread awareness, you can share your own story of infertility, no matter where you are in the journey. RESOLVE is accepting email submissions for posting on its website here.

But you don’t have to formally share your story online to make a difference. Take this chance to open up to friends and family who may not know about your infertility struggles, or simply promise yourself that you’ll be more open about discussing these struggles in the future. Allowing your friends to put a face to infertility — your face — can be scary but can go a long way in helping to spread awareness.

2. Get educated — and educate others.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about infertility, as well as complicated family-building methods like surrogacy. Sharing your story and other information is only helpful if it’s accurate. That’s the only way we’ll be able to successfully #FliptheScript.

Once you know you have accurate and professional information, help others learn by sharing that on your social media platforms, hosting or joining a local awareness event and doing every little bit you can to help others learn more about infertility in the U.S.

3. Contribute to infertility research.

Infertility can still be a taboo subject in the United States, but there are organizations out there that are trying to change that. RESOLVE and its partners are working to improve the lives of Americans who struggle to build their family, either through infertility research or hosting awareness events like National Infertility Awareness Week. The more funds that goes to infertility research, the more positive solutions there will be — and the less taboo a subject infertility will be.

Even today, infertility struggles do not mean the end of someone’s hopes and dreams of becoming a parent. Increasing the access to affordable family-building options through donations and continuing research is an important part of helping people realize this.

How will you #FliptheScript this National Infertility Awareness Week? Comment below to let us know.

If you are struggling with infertility and interested in learning about surrogacy as a family-building option, please contact our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) today.