Conscious Surrogacy – Making the Best Decisions For Your Family

conscious surrogacy

Is there such a thing as conscious surrogacy? Yes, and those considering surrogacy will be confronted with some serious ethical questions.

Conscious surrogacy is a process. It is critical to understand some of the questions, and dilemmas, that you will face if you choose surrogacy to help you have your family.  If you are prepared to answer these questions before your surrogacy journey, and if you are comfortable with your answers, then you are ready to have these conversations with a potential surrogate mother.

What are some of the questions that you will face on your conscious surrogacy journey?

Do I want a single embryo or double embryo transfer? Do I want twins?  One of the first questions you will have to consider is whether you want to try and have twins with your surrogate mother.  Many choose this option for economic reasons.  If you know that you want more than one child, consecutive surrogacy journeys may not be an option.  But there is much more to consider.

conscious surrogacy

Twin pregnancies are much harder on the surrogate mother.  It can mean doctor ordered bed rest for your surrogate and more doctors’ visits, particularly in the third trimester.  Twin pregnancies also bring a higher risk of complications for the surrogate, such as preterm labor, and hypertension.

Twins arrive earlier. A normal singleton pregnancy is 40 weeks.  Most twins arrive early, at or before 36 weeks, which means that one or both of the children may require an extended hospital stay in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit.)  Some doctors state that in 50% of twin pregnancies, a NICU stay is required.  This by itself may give parents pause about choosing a double embryo transfer.  Studies show that consecutive singleton births result in better medical outcomes than a single twin birth.  With all the information, you can make a conscious decision.

Do I want PGD or PGS? Preimplantation genetic diagnosis or screening is now being offered by most IVF facilities.  PGD or PGS allows a parent to view the genetic material of their child before an embryo is implanted in a surrogate mother’s womb.  PGD/S can show whether a child has any genetic disorders, the sex of the child and other genetic traits that may complicate a pregnancy.  While infertile couples who use IVF (in vitro fertilization), or anyone with a preexisting genetic condition,  may be familiar with PGD/S, couples or individuals who have their families with the assistance of a surrogate mother will most definitely be asked whether they want the information that PGD/S provides.

Knowing whether there is a genetic complication prior to embryo implantation may be in the best interests of all parties, however, choosing the sex of your child before it is born ventures into an ethical quagmire. Most families do not have this information and, while the technology exists, you must ask whether you want the information that it can provide.  The mental and physical health of your surrogate mother must be a priority in making this decision.

Do I want to selectively reduce if complications arise? Perhaps the most important questions you will confront is whether or not to selectively reduce, or abort, an embryo or fetus if there is a danger to the surrogate mother or to the child.  In reality, no state will enforce a gestational carrier contract which requires selective reduction.  The surrogate mother will always have the final say.  But you must know what you want first before you can discuss it with your surrogate.

While abortion is one of the most controversial topics in American society, it is routinely a part of conversations that intended parents have with their surrogate mothers. Surrogacy agreements attempt to cover all possible outcomes and obstacles that can arise during a surrogate pregnancy.  The most important aspect of this topic is being able to communicate your beliefs and desires with your surrogate.

There are many more issues that intended parents will face. Conscious surrogacy is about understanding the major decisions surrounding these issues and being able to come to a place of peace with each one, first with yourself, then with your surrogate mother.  Respecting her autonomy during the pregnancy will take you a long way toward reaching this goal.  Maintaining open and honest communication with your surrogate mother will also help to ensure that the journey is successful for all involved.

For more information about surrogacy, please visit http://www.timeforfamilies.com or email me at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

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Gay men increasingly turn to surrogates to have babies

more gay couples are embracing surrogacy

Cliff Hastings and Ron Hoppe-Hastings sailed through the vows at their 2011 civil union ceremony, until they got to the part about entering into fatherhood together.

“We cried our eyes out,” says Hastings, 41. The topic of parenthood was emotional for them, he says — they both really wanted kids — but there was more to it than that: “We didn’t know what the options were. We both thought that having kids might be more of a pipe dream than an actual reality.”

Today, Hastings and Hoppe-Hastings are the proud fathers of 11-month-old twin girls conceived with the aid of an egg donor and grown in the womb of a surrogate, a woman who carries a baby (or babies) for other people, often heterosexuals with fertility issues.surrogacy

No one tracks how many gay men are having babies via surrogates, but observers say that the numbers are growing.

“I’ve definitely seen an increase,” says Dr. Eve Feinberg, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“As gay marriage has become legal, I think it’s become much more socially acceptable for men to pursue fertility treatments and have babies.”

Five years ago, surrogacy for gay men was “unheard of” at Fertility Centers of Illinois, Feinberg says. When she left the practice in July, 20 to 30 male couples were pursuing surrogacy in a given year.

An informal survey of fertility clinics in more than 10 cities conducted for the Tribune by FertilityIQ (www.fertilityiq.com), a website where patients evaluate their fertility doctors, found that 10 to 20 percent of donor eggs are going to gay men having babies via surrogacy, and in a lot of places the numbers are up 50 percent from five years ago.

Cost remains a big barrier, according to FertilityIQ co-founder Jake Anderson, with costs for gay men, who typically need a surrogate and an egg donor, coming in at about $100,000 to $200,000. But with employers increasingly paying for fertility treatments for heterosexual couples, and lesbians pushing for insurance benefits that include them, gay men will likely gain more insurance coverage as well, according to Anderson.

“We think this is going to be pretty darn commonplace,” he says. “Maybe not tomorrow, but five years from now, 10 years from now, everybody will know a few people who have built their families through gay surrogacy.”

Hastings and Hoppe-Hastings, who are married and live outside Champaign, Ill., thought that they would adopt their children. But then, about three years ago, one of Hastings’ high school classmates posted pictures on Facebook. She was pregnant, and when Hastings congratulated her, she explained that she was a surrogate, carrying a baby for a heterosexual couple. The friend got Hastings in touch with the agency that had arranged her surrogacy, Family Source Consultants in Chicago.

by Nara Schoenburg, Chicagotribune.com, November 23, 2016

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Same-sex parents now account for 1 in 10 adoptions in England

England Adoption

Data published today has revealed that one in 10 adoptions in England is by a same-sex couple.

The data comes from the Department for Education, which published an update on children in care and fostering.

The stats reveal that of the 4,690 children adopted in the year ending March 31, 450 were adopted by same-sex couples.adoption

200 children were adopted by same-sex couples in civil partnerships, 70 children were adopted by married same-sex couples, and a further 180 were adopted by same-sex couples who are unmarried.

The growth, coupled with a decline in overall adoption by opposite-sex parents, means that the total proportion of children adopted by same-sex couples is at 10 percent for the first time.

It represents a drastic rise from 2012, when just 160 children were adopted by same-sex couples, accounting for less than five percent of adoptions in that year.

Gender breakdowns show that adoption has become more popular for both male and female couples, with 250 children adopted by same-sex male parents, and 200 adopted by same-sex female couples.

The data points have been rounded to preserve anonymity.

Tor Docherty of LGBT adoption charity  New Family Social, said: “Although the total number of adoptions fell in England in 2016, it’s heartening to see that agencies continue to consider and successfully place children for adoption with same-sex couples.

by Nick Duffy, December 8, 2016

PinkNews.com.uk

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Arkansas Court Upholds Gay Marriage Birth Certificate Law – Blow to Same Sex Couples

gay parents adopting, same sex paretners

Arkansas‘ highest court on Thursday threw out a judge’s ruling that could have allowed all married same-sex couples to get the names of both spouses on their children’s birth certificates without a court order, saying it doesn’t violate equal protection “to acknowledge basic biological truths.”

The state Supreme Court also issued a rare admonishment to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox, saying he made “inappropriate remarks” in his ruling that struck down the birth certificate law. Fox had cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage in his ruling last year that said married same-sex couples should have both names listed on their children’s birth certificates, just as heterosexual married couples do, without requiring a court order.Family law

In the state Supreme Court’s decision Thursday, the justices sided with the state attorney general’s office, saying Arkansas has a vested interest in listing biological parents on birth certificates.

“What is before this court is a narrow issue of whether the birth-certificate statutes as written deny the appellees due process,” Justice Josephine Linker Hart wrote in the court’s majority opinion. “…In the situation involving the female spouse of a biological mother, the female spouse does not have the same biological nexus to the child that the biological mother or the biological father has. It does not violate equal protection to acknowledge basic biological truths.”

Cheryl Maples, who sued on behalf of three same-sex couples, said she hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The three couples who sued were allowed to amend their children’s birth certificates last year under a ruling issued by Fox.

“There’s no requirement that DNA be given or that there be a biological relationship to a child to get on a birth certificate for a father, for the non-birth parent,” she said. “All you have to do is legitimize the child and you’re entitled, if you’re heterosexual. This is wrong.”

Judd Deere, a spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said the state is “gratified” by the court’s decision.

“If any changes are appropriate it is the job of legislators to do so, not the circuit court,” he said.

Associate Justice Paul Danielson dissented and Justice Rhonda Wood concurred in part and dissented in part.

by Jill Bleed, ABCNews.com, December 8, 2016

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Teen Panel 2016: Surrogacy children of gay dads share their stories

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Teen Panel 2016: Surrogacy children of gay dads share their stories.
In this part the panelists speak about two defining moments in their recent pasts: the June 2015 decision by the Supreme Court on Marriage Equality, and the election of Donald Trump. As children with LGBTQ parents, how did they feel on these historic occasions, and how were their lives affected?

This panel was part of the 2016 Men Having Babies NY Conference. It was offered in cooperation with the Outspoken Generation program of Family Equality Council, and was moderated by the organization’s executive director, Stan Sloan.

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Surrogacy laws for single parents to change after court ruling

surrogate lawyers, surrogate lawyer, surrogate attorney, legal surrogate, surrogate legal

Surrogacy laws which prevent single people from claiming parental rights are set to change following a ruling by the Family Division of the High Court.

 

The court ruled earlier this month that a single man who fathered a child via a surrogate mother had his right to raise the child discriminated against.

The man claimed the current law meant an application for a “parental order” could only be made by two people.

The government said it was now considering updating the legislation.international second parent adoption, gay parent adoption, Italy, lgbt Italy, glut Italy, gay families, international gay rights

American mother

The child was born in August 2014 in Minnesota in the US, to an American surrogate mother using the father’s sperm and a third party donor’s egg.

The father then returned to the UK, bringing the child – ,known in court as Z – with him. But legally he did not have parental responsibility for the child – as under British law the surrogate mother is regarded as his mother, whatever the wishes of either party.

The current laws – the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 – allow married couples, civil partners and couples in an “enduring family relationship” to apply for parental orders after a surrogacy arrangement.

This transfers legal parenthood from the surrogate mother to the commissioning parents. But the legislation does not currently allow parental orders to be awarded to single people.

In this case, the only option available to the would-be father was to apply to adopt the child.

Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, has agreed with the father, who said the legislation was incompatible with human rights laws.

The president of the Family Division of the High Court made a “declaration of incompatibility” in a ruling, after considering the case at a hearing in London.

He also said the child had been made a ward of court at an earlier stage of litigation and been placed in his father’s care.

Adoption ‘solution’

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s legal team had accepted that provisions of the Act were incompatible with human rights covering respect for family life and discrimination.

Barrister Samantha Broadfoot, representing Mr Hunt, told the judge: “It is accepted that there is a difference in treatment between a single person entering into a lawful surrogacy arrangement and a couple entering the same arrangement.”

She did add that adoption was an “available solution”.

BBC.com/news/UK

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Verizon’s Bar on Paid Leave for Surrogate Births Prompts Bias Suit

Verizon

A New Jersey woman who had twins by a gestational surrogate has filed a discrimination suit against Verizon Communications because she was not allowed to take time off under the company’s paid maternity leave policy.

Marybeth Walz of Red Bank said Verizon grants six to eight weeks of paid leave to women employees who become mothers through birth or adoption. Walz opted to use a surrogate because her uterus had been removed after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2001. But the company refused to grant her paid leave, and instead required her to use vacation and sick days when the twins were born prematurely in November 2013, the suit said. As such, she suffers from a pregnancy-related disability because she is unable to become pregnant, her suit claims.gestational carrier

Granting paid leave to a woman who becomes a mother through surrogacy allows her to bond with her child, said Gaia Bernstein, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark whose areas of study include reproductive technology and the law.

“There are more and more surrogate cases. I think the mothers [who use a surrogate] should get the same benefits as a mother who is adopting or an actual mother because they are the one taking care of the baby. The way they got the baby is irrelevant,” said Bernstein.

The suit, Walz v. Verizon Business Network Services, accuses Verizon of sex, pregnancy and disability discrimination as well as retaliation and violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act. It was filed in federal court in Boston in September 2015, but Verizon moved to transfer the case to the District of New Jersey.

One of the boys, Thad, suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage and died one day after birth. The other, Jude, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and died six months later. While she was coping with the death of Thad, the serious illness of Jude and her own grief-related mental disability, she received a new job assignment that she contended was a demotion. And shortly after Jude’s death, she was terminated from her job.

Walz’s eggs were fertilized with an anonymous donor’s sperm and transferred into the uterus of her sister-in-law in May 2013. Walz, her sister-in-law and her brother obtained a consent order from a North Carolina court, calling for Walz’s name to be listed as the mother on the twins’ birth certificates, with no name listed for the father. The order also severed the rights and responsibilities of Walz’s brother and sister-and-law to the twins.

Walz said a Verizon human resources representative suggested she adopt the twins, to which she replied that she saw no need to adopt her own children, and was instead securing her rights through a consent order The human resources representative said “shame on you for doing it that way,” and said the company would pay $10,000 in expenses if she adopted the children.

Verizon’s handling of the case caused Walz extreme emotional distress and anxiety, she claims.

Lawyers for Basking Ridge-based Verizon, from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, have moved to transfer the venue to New Jersey, and the case has been stayed pending a ruling on venue. The company maintains that the plaintiff, defendant and most of the witnesses are located in New Jersey and the only reason for the case to be in Massachusetts is that the plaintiff’s lawyer is located there.

A Morgan Lewis attorney in Princeton, Michelle Silverman, did not respond to a request for comment.

Charles Toutant, New Jersey Law Journal

November 14, 2016

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LGBT Family Rights in a Trump Presidency

LGBT family rights in a Trump presidency

Many are asking, “Will there be LGBT family rights in a Trump presidency?” While there certainly is cause for concern about the direction of our country, there are also certain realities that are reassuring.

I never thought I would be writing about LGBT family rights in a Trump presidency. But I also never received as many concerned calls from previous and prospective clients asking whether their marriages would be invalidated, or whether their second or step parent adoptions would be overturned.  These serious questions have led me to write about what I see as LGBT family rights in a Trump Presidency.

First, there is strong precedent holding that when a marriage is validly performed, it will be respected and honored under the law. This means that those LGBT Americans who are already married should not have to worry about a new Supreme Court taking their marriages away from them.LGBT family rights in a Trump presidency

For those who are not married but may wish to in the future, the question is a bit more nuanced. Shannon Minter, the legal director of NCLR, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and one of the smartest legal minds in our community, said in a recent press release, “it is also highly unlikely that the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry will be challenged or that the Supreme Court would revisit its 2015 holding that same-sex couples have that fundamental right.”  Mr. Minter is basing this belief on the long held tradition of the court to honor its previous decisions, a term called stare decisis.

The question many legal scholars are asking is whether a newly conservative Supreme Court will ultimately hear a case challenging the right of LGBT couples to marry and overturn the Obergefell marriage decision. While unlikely, it is possible. We can only wait to see who Trump appoints to the Supreme Court.

The most moving calls that I have received in the past days have been from people either in the process of having their families or plan to have families in the near future. They are deeply concerned about the security of their families.  I recently wrote about New York’s changing family law and how second and step parent adoption are now critical to create unassailable family protections, particularly for non-genetically related parents.  These specific forms of adoption are state based and largely shielded from Federal meddling.  That said, if you have a child and have not gone through the adoption process, it is strongly recommended that you do so now rather than later, when our Federal judicial system may be less friendly to LGBT families.

Among LGBT lawyers, one issue of great concern regards transgender Americans and obtaining accurate gender markers on federally issued identification, such as passports. While there is a transgender rights case which the Supreme Court has agreed to hear, we do not yet know whether a ninth more conservative justice will be appointed in time to hear it.

My husband reminded me that politics is cyclical. We have bounced between conservative and liberal presidents and congresses many time before, however, we have never before been faced with a president who based his entire campaign on dividing America by fearful and bigoted rhetoric.  We have never before had a President who, during his campaign, threatened to ban all Muslims from the country, or “lock up” his presidential opponent or degrade women as objects of his own control and pleasure.

Now more than ever it is time to be proactive. Many of us have experienced the shock and sadness associated with the loss of what we had hoped would be a liberal president in the White House.  We are entering uncharted territory.  LGBT family rights in a Trump Presidency will undoubtedly take some hits, but we are a strong, resilient and loving community.  And we have the tools to protect our families.   Don’t fail to use them!

By Anthony m. Brown, Esq.  November 11, 2016 – For more information, visit www.timeforfamilies.com or email Anthony at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

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Taiwan Set to Legalize Same-Sex Marriages, a First in Asia

Taiwan

Su Shan and her partner are raising 5-month-old twins together, but only one of the women is their legal parent. That could soon change as Taiwan appears set to become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

“Now, if something happens to the child, the other partner is nothing but a stranger,” said Su, a 35-year-old software engineer in Taipei in Taiwan. By contrast, either partner in a legally recognized marriage could make legal, medical and educational decisions, she says.

Taiwanese lawmakers are currently working on three bills in support of marriage equality, one of which is already listed for review and could be passed within months. Same-sex marriage also has the prominent support of President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female head of state.marriage equality

About 80 percent of Taiwanese between ages 20 and 29 support same-sex marriage, said Tseng Yen-jung, spokeswoman for the group Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy , citing local university studies. Taiwan’s United Daily News found in a survey taken four years ago that 55 percent of the public supported same-sex marriage, with 37 percent opposed.

That’s seen as a reflection of Taiwan’s ready acceptance of multi-party democracy and other inclusive attitudes, as well as the fact that Taiwan’s 23 million people largely follow Buddhismand traditional Chinese religions that take no strong positions on sexual orientation or gay marriage.

Gay and lesbian relationships began to find wide acceptance in the 1990s, aided by the already well-established feminist movement, said Jens Damm, associate Professor in the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Studies at Chang Jung University in Taiwan.

“The elite became in favor of a kind of gender equality,” Damm said.

Still, same-sex marriage still had to overcome traditional perceptions of gender roles and the strong pressure on children to marry and have kids. The self-ruled island also lacks many openly gay and lesbian celebrities to lead the way; the writer and television talk show host Kevin Tsai is among the few exceptions.

By RALPH JENNINGS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Nov 10, 2016

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Arkansas court hears case over same-sex birth certificates

gay parents adopting, same sex paretners

Arkansas Supreme Court justices questioned Thursday whether it’s up to them or the Legislature to change the state’s birth certificate law after gay marriage was legalized nationwide, as they weighed a lawsuit brought by three same-sex couples who wanted both spouses listed as parents.

 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — State Solicitor General Lee Rudofsky told justices that a Pulaski County judge went too far last year by striking down part of the state’s birth certificate law as unconstitutional, and said a narrower change to the state’s artificial insemination law would address most of the concerns. Judge Tim Fox’s ruling last year struck down portions of the birth certificate law that limits references to spouses as husband or wife.

Fox’s ruling, Rudofsky said, “upends centuries of family law and flies in the face of clear legislative intent.”lesbian family law

Justices in December agreed to temporarily halt Fox’s ruling regarding the birth certificate law while they considered the appeal. The court did not halt a separate order from Fox allowing the three same-sex couples who brought the lawsuit to amend their children’s birth certificates. Rudofsky said changing the state law regarding artificial insemination would allow both same-sex spouses to be listed as parents if they were married at the time of the child’s birth. Under that change, same-sex couples who weren’t married at the time of the child’s birth would still need a court order to both be listed.

Interim Chief Justice Howard Brill asked Cheryl Maples, the attorney for the couples, whether it was the court’s role to rewrite the birth certificate law.

“Shouldn’t we direct the Legislature to revise the statutes to comply with the Constitution in a gender neutral way instead of a trial judge or this court trying to rewrite major statutes with all the implications that are involved?,” Brill asked. “Isn’t this a question for the Legislature to correct constitutional flaws in this?”

“If we wait for the Legislature to take necessary steps to comply with the Obergefell decision, we may never see those changes,” Maples said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that legalized gay marriage.

Justice Rhonda Wood questioned the argument that lawmakers should have the first crack at making a change, noting that the Legislature hasn’t taken up the issue since gay marriage was legalized last year.

“I feel it’s a little disingenuous to say wait on the Legislature because the Legislature has had special sessions since the case came down and it hasn’t been a priority,” Wood said. Lawmakers have convened for three special sessions and an abbreviated session on the budget since that ruling.

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