What You Need to Know About Surrogacy in Tennessee

What You Need to Know About Surrogacy in Tennessee

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Tennessee Surrogacy Laws and Information

If you are considering surrogacy in Tennessee, know that this is a legal possibility for you, whether you are an intended parent or a prospective surrogate. While there are no extensive Tennessee surrogacy laws, surrogacy professionals in this state work with the single surrogacy statute that exists to create a legal process that you can use to make your surrogacy dreams come true.

While traditional surrogacies and surrogacies with donated embryos are not recommended in Tennessee, there are clear legal paths for intended parents who will be both genetically related to their child or will use one donor gamete. However, like anyone completing a surrogacy in any other state, it’s critical that intended parents and surrogates completing a surrogacy in Tennessee understand the surrogacy laws in this state before moving forward.

The best way to do so is by speaking with a surrogacy attorney in Tennessee, who can provide the most up-to-date information on the legal surrogacy situation in this state. In the meantime, American Surrogacy has answered some of your most common questions about surrogacy in Tennessee below.

Q: Is surrogacy legal in Tennessee?

A: Surrogacy is indeed legal in Tennessee, although there are no surrogacy laws in Tennessee that “expressly authorize the surrogate birth process.” In Tennessee, surrogacy is defined as two separate situations: gestational surrogacy where both married intended parents furnish sperm and egg, and traditional surrogacy where the intended father furnishes the sperm and the surrogate relinquishes the child to him and his wife.

Q: Is compensated surrogacy legal in Tennessee?

A: Yes. There are no surrogacy laws in Tennessee that prohibit or regulate the compensation a surrogate can receive in this state.

Q: Is traditional surrogacy legal in Tennessee?

A: Yes, a surrogate can be the biological mother of the child she carries in Tennessee. However, the rights of a traditional surrogate cannot be terminated until after she gives birth, due to her genetic relationship with the baby. A traditional surrogate cannot be compelled to surrender her parental rights and any aspect in a surrogacy contract that does so is unenforceable, as determined in the case In Re Baby.

Q: What does a surrogacy agreement in Tennessee cover, and how does the legal process work?

A: In many ways, a surrogacy contract in Tennessee is completed in a similar method as a contract in any other state. There are no surrogacy laws in Tennessee that require certain things for a surrogacy contract.

Both a surrogate and her intended parents must obtain separate legal representation for this step of the legal surrogacy process. Based on each party’s expectations for their surrogacy journey, these attorneys will negotiate a surrogacy contract that outlines things like:

  • Surrogate compensation
  • Risks and liabilities
  • Rights and responsibilities of each party before, during and after the surrogacy
  • Legal process for establishing the intended parents’ parental rights
  • Agreement on sensitive issues like termination and selective reduction
  • How many embryos will be transferred during the IVF process
  • And more

After a surrogacy contract is approved and finalized by both the intended parents’ and surrogate’s lawyers, it is signed, and the medical process of surrogacy can begin.

Q: Are surrogacy contracts (whether compensated or altruistic) enforceable in Tennessee?

A: There are no case laws or statutes that specify whether surrogacy contracts are enforceable in Tennessee. Therefore, it’s important that intended parents and surrogates are equally committed to their surrogacy journey and completely understand all of the risks and liabilities moving forward.

Q: What are the surrogacy laws in Tennessee on parentage orders?

A: If intended parents are completing a gestational surrogacy in Tennessee, they can obtain a pre-birth order. The genetic parent(s) of the child can be declared the legal parents on this pre-birth order and, if both parents are genetically related to the child being born via surrogacy, an adoption proceeding is unnecessary. The hospital will place the intended parents’ names on their child’s birth certificate.

In cases where an intended parent is not genetically related (instead using a donor sperm or egg), only the genetically related parent can be declared as the legal parent before birth. The non-genetically related parent must complete an adoption after birth, like a stepparent adoption, to protect their parental rights. Tennessee does have a statute that allows a father of a child conceived by donor sperm to be the legal father of the baby, so speak with your Tennessee surrogacy attorney for an idea of what path may be necessary for you.

As mentioned, if a traditional surrogacy is pursued, a pre-birth order cannot be obtained. If neither intended parent is related to the child born via surrogacy (such as with dual donors or a donated embryo), the child is viewed as the legal child of the gestational carrier and her husband, if applicable, and a pre-birth order cannot be obtained. Therefore, Tennessee surrogacy lawyers discourage intended parents in this situation to pursue a surrogacy in Tennessee.

Q: Are there any particular laws for parents outside the U.S. who complete a surrogacy in Tennessee?

A: No. The same laws that apply to domestic intended parents will also apply to international intended parents completing a surrogacy in Tennessee.

Q: When do intended parents need to complete an adoption after birth? 

A: Intended parents must complete adoptions when one or both of them are genetically unrelated to the child born via surrogacy in Tennessee. For example, in cases of heterosexual married couples where an egg donor is used, the intended mother must adopt the child through a stepparent adoption (or, if they are unmarried, through a second-parent adoption). Therefore, similarly, one partner in a married same-sex couple must complete an adoption to protect his or her parental rights.

If neither intended parent is genetically related to the child, a full adoption must be completed after birth.

Q: Does Tennessee allow second-parent adoptions? Who would need to complete a second-parent adoption vs. a stepparent adoption (if applicable)?

A: While there are no laws in Tennessee prohibiting second-parent adoptions, because of the federal marriage equality ruling, judges do not complete second-parent adoptions in this state. You must be married to complete a stepparent adoption and protect your rights to a non-genetically related child.

Q: If intended parents cannot complete a second parent adoption, how can unmarried non-biological intended parents protect their parental rights?

A: The only way non-biologically related intended parents can protect their parental rights is through marriage, if they have a child via surrogacy in Tennessee. Otherwise, parental rights to the child remain with the other biological parent (not the intended parent’s spouse).

Q: What happens in cases where intended parents use a donor egg, sperm or embryo?

A: As mentioned, a non-genetically related intended parent in this kind of Tennessee surrogacy will likely need to complete an adoption after birth. This must be a stepparent adoption, as second-parent adoptions are illegal in Tennessee.

Surrogacy with donated embryos is not recommended in Tennessee. One of the parents of the child born to a gestational carrier must be the genetic parent of the child to protect the intended parents’ rights. Otherwise, the surrogacy may be viewed as an adoption in the eyes of the law, which comes with additional legal restrictions and regulations.

Q: Are there any additional laws impacting same-sex surrogacy in Tennessee?

A: No. Tennessee was a party in the federal marriage equality ruling, and the state has a history of protecting same-sex intended parents since then. LGBT intended parents pursuing surrogacy in Tennessee are treated much the same as heterosexual intended parents, excepting necessary legal requirements for gamete donations.

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Surrogacy in Tennessee is a family-building option for intended parents and prospective surrogates and, when the circumstances are ideal, is a safe and efficient process for those involved. Still, it’s critical that you work with experienced surrogacy professionals from the beginning to protect your rights and interests throughout this process.

American Surrogacy is happy to work with both intended parents and surrogates in Tennessee to provide you the services of an experienced surrogacy agency, including case management services. To learn more about our agency program and to begin your surrogacy process today, please call 1-800-875-2229(BABY) or contact us online.

American Surrogacy has made every effort to provide updated information that reflects the current surrogacy laws in Tennessee, but these are always subject to change. This article is not intended as legal advice and should not be taken as such. Please reach out to a local surrogacy attorney in Tennessee to learn more about the current state of surrogacy in Tennessee.