“Working with a Known Donor or Surrogate” was made possible through a collaboration with Path2Parenthood.
If you are building your family with the help of a donor or surrogate that you have a relationship with, here are some things to keep in mind:
Have you covered your legal bases?
It is essential that a reproductive attorney be part of your family-building team, whether you are gay, straight, single or a couple. Working with a known sperm or egg donor or surrogate may present legal challenges you have not anticipated. An attorney who knows this area of law will help you map out every possible contingency that might occur throughout your child’s life. An attorney will also help to protect the parental and legal status of everyone involved and work with you on a second-parent adoption, or step-parent adoption if you are seeking to parent as a couple.
Your attorney will also map out financial agreements so there are no grey areas about who pays for what throughout the process.
It also makes sense for your donor or surrogate to have their own legal representation so each knows that he or she has been treated fairly.
If this all sounds unnecessary, it is certainly not. This process helps everyone to create clarity about their expectations and hopes.
Have you covered your medical bases?
For Sperm Donors
Ask your donor about his family medical history. Have a semen analysis done to determine the quality of your donor’s sperm. Have your sperm donor go through a simple blood test to check for genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs or cystic fibrosis. Many people are silent carriers of recessive genetic traits. You must be certain that you and your donor are not carriers of the same recessive genetic trait.
It is a myth that fresh sperm are better than frozen. Have your known donor provide semen samples for storage in a clinic or laboratory that is licensed to freeze and bank donor sperm. The donor will undergo comprehensive testing for infectious diseases before the first donation and then again after semen specimens are stored during a six month quarantine period. While the screening tests are mandated by federal law, New York State law allows the quarantine period to be waived. However, keep in mind that the quarantine period is meant to protect you and your baby from the possibility of acquiring an infection as a result of the insemination.
For Egg Donors
Ask your donor about her family’s medical history.
Your donor’s egg quality should be checked through a simple blood test. Your physician may also ask to have her undergo a transvaginal sonogram as part of this assessment.
Talk to your donor about her reproductive history. Is she aware of any fertility issues? Has she ever had a miscarriage?
Have your egg donor go through a simple carrier screening test to check for genetic diseases, such as Tay-Sachs or cystic fibrosis.
It is not recommended that you use a surrogate who has never given birth before. And bodies change over time – how long ago did she give birth?
Ask your surrogate about her pregnancy and birthing history. Does she have a history of recurrent miscarriages? Did she have any complications associated with a prior pregnancy that affected either her baby or herself? Did she experience post-partum depression?
Is the surrogate willing to maintain her health, take prenatal vitamins daily and be seen regularly by an obstetrician during her pregnancy?
Is she willing to eliminate alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and other forms of risky behavior during her pregnancy?
Is she willing to express breast milk for the baby and, if so, for how long? Does she ever experience depression or anxiety? Does she have a history of mental illness or instability?
Decision-making during pregnancy is sometimes complicated. If the surrogate conceives more than a singleton, is she willing to reduce the number of fetuses she is carrying for medical reasons? Is she willing to terminate the pregnancy for medical reasons?
Have you mapped out a labor and delivery plan that works for everyone? This should include the type of delivery anticipated, including who will attend the delivery.
Have You Covered Your Emotional Bases?
It may sound odd, but your attorney can help you create an emotional roadmap which will help everyone to be on the same page. A therapist can also help you fully understand the emotional aspects of your journey, both now and in the future.
Emotional aspects to work out include:
- Does your donor or surrogate plan on being in your child’s life in any way?
- How do you feel about that?
- Will your arrangement be known to others, or will it remain anonymous?
- Will your donor’s family members seek out a relationship with your child?
- If the donor is your sibling or friend, what relationship do you all envision having together? Will you see each other regularly, on holidays, or not at all?
- What will your child be told about the donor or surrogate? Who will talk to her or him about it?
- What will your child call her or his donor or surrogate?
- Does your donor wish to have financial or emotional responsibility of any kind for your child?
Original post August 15, 2017
Updated May 24, 2022