How to Protect Your Parental Rights in a Same-Sex Surrogacy

You will likely need to complete an additional legal process for parental rights if you complete an LGBT surrogacy. Here's what to know.

When you choose to complete a same-sex surrogacy, you and your partner will first need to find a donor to complete your embryo. Because gestational surrogates  are not related to the child they carry, their eggs are not used to complete the embryo — which means that gay men completing IVF for surrogacy must find an egg donor, just as a lesbian couple will need to seek out a sperm donor.

But what does a donor egg or sperm mean for your parental rights, especially for the partner who is not related to the child? While many egg and sperm donors must waive their parental rights to a child when they go through the donation process, not all are required to early on in the process. In addition, depending on state laws, a surrogate that gives birth to a child may also have inherent parental rights that need to be relinquished, either before the birth of the child or after they’re born through a certain legal process.

Fortunately, there are many ways that LGBT couples can protect their parental rights to their children born via surrogacy. At American Surrogacy, we make sure that you understand before you even begin what legal process you’ll need based on your state laws and individual situation. While you may need to take additional steps to protect your parental rights, all of our LGBT intended parents can rest assured that, when the surrogacy process is complete, both partners will have full and legal parentage of their child born via surrogacy.

To discuss your individual situation with a surrogacy specialist and learn more about what legal parentage processes might need to take place, please call us today at 1-800-875-2229. Below, we’ve also laid out some of the common steps LGBT parents like you may need to take to secure their parental rights.

Pre- or Post-Birth Parentage Orders

In cases where an egg or sperm donor or surrogate has inherent parental rights to a child, you may not have to wait until after your child is born to terminate those rights. Instead, your lawyer might suggest completing a pre- or post-birth parentage order. These orders are drawn up and signed by all necessary parties during the surrogate’s pregnancy to address the termination of parental rights — and the granting of those rights to the non-biologically related parent in the gay couple. When these can become effective (before birth, right after birth or at a later time in court) will depend upon the laws of your state.

Parentage orders like this can also ensure your name is placed on your child’s birth certificate, allow you to make medical decisions for your baby and help to resolve potential insurance coverage issues. It’s usually recommended to start this legal process with a lawyer as early as possible, and American Surrogacy can help put you in contact with an appropriate attorney for this process.

Stepparent or Second Parent Adoptions

In some cases, a non-biologically related parent cannot complete a parentage order due to state laws or certain circumstances in their individual surrogacy process. Instead, they have to complete a stepparent adoption (if they and their spouse are married) or a second parent adoption (if they are unmarried). As mentioned before, this is necessary in cases where a surrogate or gamete donor has parental rights protected by the Uniform Parentage Act, which assumes a woman who gives birth to a child and her husband, if applicable, are the legal parents of that child — even if neither of them are genetically related to that child.

While the legal process involved in second parent adoptions and stepparent adoptions will vary by state, the process is generally less invasive and does not require as much as an adoption of a child not related to either spouse (for example, in a joint private domestic adoption).These adoption processes will terminate the parental rights of the surrogate or donor and transfer them to the non-biologically related LGBT parent rather easily. Because these adoptions are typically used to formalize existing relationships (or, in the case of surrogacy, protect assumed parental rights), certain requirements, like a home study, will be waived.

How to Protect Your Parental Rights from the Start

If you’re asking, “When is my partner adopting my child required in LGBT surrogacy?” the best thing to do is speak to an assisted reproductive technology lawyer or our surrogacy specialists at American Surrogacy. As a same-sex couple completing a surrogacy, you will need to take legal action to protect your parental rights. Because the legalities can be complicated, you will also need to work with a professional who understands LGBT couples’ parental rights to do this efficiently and legally.

The first step you can take to make sure your parental rights are protected is by contacting American Surrogacy.  We’ll discuss your situation with you, determine what steps may need to be taken and even help you start the surrogacy process that’s perfect for you. Contact us today to learn more.