What You Need to Know About Surrogacy in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., Surrogacy Laws and Information

Surrogacy in Washington, D.C., is a legal and well-defined way of adding a child to a family. Surrogates and intended parents in D.C. should always learn more about surrogacy laws in D.C. before committing to this path.

If you’re considering surrogacy in Washington, D.C., you’re in luck — this is one of the safest and best-regulated areas in the United States to pursue a surrogacy journey.

However, this hasn’t always been the case. In fact, until 2017, surrogacy was prohibited in Washington, D.C., but new surrogacy laws in D.C. have established a safe and legal process for intended parents and surrogates who live here to reach their surrogacy goals. Today, this state is one of the safest places for this family-building process in the U.S.

American Surrogacy is happy to work with intended parents and surrogates in Washington, D.C., to help them make their surrogacy dreams come true. Our surrogacy specialists can always answer whatever questions you may have about the general surrogacy process, as well as refer you to a trusted surrogacy attorney in D.C. to learn more about local surrogacy laws.

In the meantime, find the answers to some common questions about surrogacy in Washington, D.C., here.

Q: Is surrogacy legal in District of Columbia?

A: Yes. The District of Columbia gestational surrogacy statute took effect on April 7, 2017, replacing an older law that criminalized surrogacy. Today, surrogacy is legal in Washington, D.C., for intended parents and surrogates if they follow certain legal regulations.

Q: Is compensated surrogacy legal in District of Columbia?

A: Yes. The recent D.C. surrogacy laws legalize compensated gestational carrier agreements.

Q: Is traditional surrogacy legal in District of Columbia?

A:  Yes. Traditional surrogacy is addressed in the new D.C. surrogacy laws, and certain specifications are outlined. For example, an order of parentage in a traditional surrogacy in D.C. cannot be issued until at least 48 hours after the baby is born.

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

A: The new D.C. surrogacy laws, in addition to legalizing this family-building process, also set certain requirements for intended parents and prospective surrogates who enter into a written surrogacy agreement. When an agreement is executed, these requirements must be met:

  • Surrogates:
    • Be at least 21 years old
    • Have given birth to at least one live child
    • Have undergone a medical and mental health evaluation for approval to be a surrogate
    • Have completed a joint consultation with the intended parents by a mental health professional
  • Intended Parents:
    • Be at least 21 years old
    • Have completed a joint consultation with the surrogate
    • If married or in a domestic partnership, both partners must meet these requirements

A D.C. surrogacy contract must be finalized before the embryo transfer process can begin, and both intended parents, the surrogate and her spouse (if applicable) must be party to the agreement. The surrogacy contract must outline steps for establishing parental rights and any compensation and coverage of costs in the surrogacy process.

For a full list of requirements for D.C. surrogacy contracts, please see the General Statute 16-406.

Q: Are surrogacy contracts (whether compensated or altruistic) enforceable in District of Columbia?

A: Yes. D.C. surrogacy contracts are enforceable as of the new state statute implemented in 2017.

Q: What are the surrogacy laws in District of Columbia on parentage orders?

A: For surrogacy in D.C., married and unmarried couples and individuals can be declared parents prior to birth, even if the parent has no genetic relationship to the child born. Like many other states, pre-birth orders in Washington, D.C., do not become effective until the moment of birth.

It’s always encouraged that you speak with a D.C. surrogacy lawyer for the particular legal steps that will be required in your surrogacy to establish parental rights.

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

A: No. There are no additional laws for international intended parents that do not apply to domestic intended parents completing a surrogacy in Washington, D.C.

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

A: Because an intended parent or parents are legally deemed the genetic parents of the child, “regardless of whether the intended parent… has a genetic relationship to the child,” an adoption is rarely needed in a D.C. surrogacy. The vast majority of intended parents can receive a pre-birth order naming them as the legal parent of their child.

However, if intended parents from Washington, D.C., complete a surrogacy in another state where they can’t obtain a pre-birth order, they may be required to complete an adoption after birth in that state or when they return home to D.C.

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

A: Yes, Washington, D.C., allows second-parent adoptions, although they are rarely needed in surrogacies completed in this state. However, if an unmarried intended parent couple cannot complete a second-parent adoption in the state where their child is born, they can return to D.C. to establish their parental rights in this manner.

Married couples can always complete a stepparent adoption in D.C., as well.

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

A: Intended parents who use a donated gamete to conceive a child for gestational surrogacy are not subject to any additional D.C. surrogacy laws. In the majority of cases, these intended parents can still be issued a pre-birth order, regardless of their genetic relationship to their child.

However, if intended parents use a donated egg from a traditional surrogate, there is a 48-hour waiting period before a parentage order can be issued to intended parents in Washington, D.C.

Q: Are there any additional laws impacting same-sex surrogacy in District of Columbia?

A: No. All surrogacy laws in D.C. that apply to heterosexual intended parents also apply to LGBT intended parents. There are no additional legal regulations or restrictions that will apply.


As you can see, surrogacy in Washington, D.C., certainly is an option for you if you are considering this family-building path. Here at American Surrogacy, our surrogacy specialists stand ready to answer any questions you have and guide you through this process whenever you’re ready. Whether you are an intended parent or a surrogate in D.C., we can provide the case management and support services you need to have a successful surrogacy journey.

To learn more about our agency program today, please call American Surrogacy at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).