Thinking about using a family member’s sperm or egg to create your embryos? It may seem like an easy and obvious solution in a long and complex journey to become a parent.
There are a number of reasons you might be considering partnering with a family member as part of the surrogacy process. Maybe:
- you’d rather talk to someone you know and trust about an intimate genetic donation.
- you hope that by using gametes from within the family gene pool, the baby will look more like the intended parents.
- you want to cut costs by not having to pay gamete donor fees.
- you worry about working with a donor you don’t know.
However, this type of gamete donation requires more thought than an outside-the-family donation. The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) advises that “programs that choose to participate in intra-familial arrangements should be prepared to spend additional time counseling participants and ensuring that they have made free, informed decisions.”
Fertility clinics and professionals such as American Surrogacy take extra care to educate people who are considering using a family member’s gametes as part of the surrogacy process. You can always contact our specialists anytime to learn more about this kind of surrogacy journey.
In the meantime, learn about a few unique aspects to this type of gamete donation.
Gestational surrogacy and gamete donation within the family can be an intimate experience that brings family members closer together forever. But, despite the potential for benefits, these experiences can also be emotionally challenging and put strain on even the strongest family bonds.
Family members should be counseled about the ways in which gamete donation could affect their relationships, including how to prepare and work to preserve their bonds. The emotional implications of gamete donation should not be downplayed. Remember:
- Your family relationships will be permanently changed.
- The relationship of your child with some family members will change because of unique biological connections.
- Existing insecurities, jealousies and tensions are often heightened, possibly permanently.
With proper counseling from a surrogacy professional, family members can decide if they’re ready for the benefits and challenges they may face with this specific type of gamete donation. They can also learn how to appropriately prepare themselves.
Using a family member’s donated gametes rather than selecting a donor from a cryobank, for example, may save you some time and money. This is one reason why intra-family gamete donation is often considered.
The costs of working with a donor through a gamete donor bank will vary, so ask your fertility clinic if they have an in-house gamete donor program or if they offer discounted rates when you work with a certain donor bank. Often, fertility clinics will have at least one donor bank that they frequently work with. They can provide advice about minimizing costs if you’re interested in that route.
If you do decide to work with a family member, remember that intended parents should cover the costs of the necessary procedures. This usually includes screening for health concerns, the cost of egg harvesting and the related fertility medications (if applicable), and more.
You already know and trust your family member, so why would you need to involve a lawyer?
The fact is many custody disputes in surrogacy occur when an extended family member is the biological parent of the child involved and the participants fail to receive proper legal counseling or contracts.
The ASRM recommends that “participants in these arrangements, including partners of donors and surrogates, should seek independent legal advice from attorneys with specific expertise in third-party reproduction to determine their legal rights and duties in entering into these relations.”
Surrogacy professionals, including American Surrogacy, also always encourage everyone involved in these arrangements to retain separate attorneys experienced in assisted reproduction law. Even when you’re entering into a donation agreement with a loved and trusted family member, it’s important that you establish a legally binding donor contract, just like you would with anyone else. This protects everyone involved (including the child) from future legal complications.
In family gamete donations, the donor is literally closer to home. Therefore, there should be additional discussions in the legal contract regarding inheritance, biology and the donor’s social role in the child’s life.
Always remember: Third-party reproduction laws vary by state and situation, so it’s even more necessary that you consult an experienced ART lawyer about this type of gamete donation, regardless of family ties.
At first, using a family member’s gametes to create your embryos for surrogacy may seem like the obvious choice. But you should spend some time talking with an American Surrogacy professional about it to make sure that everyone involved is truly ready.
The ASRM agrees: “Providers should be prepared to spend more time screening and counseling participants compared to anonymous or unrelated known collaborative reproductive arrangements.” It goes on to say that, “Programs should strongly recommend that prospective participants, including partners of donors and surrogates, undergo psychological counseling by a professional experienced in surrogacy or gamete donation. These visits should focus attention on how participants will cope with the unique aspects of the proposed arrangement and on the consequences for the prospective child.”
American Surrogacy is equipped to talk to you and your family member about gamete donation, so you can mutually decide whether or not it’s right for you. If you decide against family member gamete donation, we can talk to you about finding a gamete donor from outside your family to help you complete your surrogacy journey.
Call us now at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) to learn more.