Surrogacy provides a way for families to have a child when they would otherwise be unable to do so, because of health or other concerns. However, the process of surrogacy is long and full of complications, including legal concerns.
Surrogacy comes in two main forms: traditional and gestational. In traditional surrogacy, the egg donor and the surrogate mother who bears the child are the same. In such cases, the surrogate mother is genetically related to the child.
In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate and the egg donor are different people. The donor may be the woman who intends to raise the child, or it may be another party. The surrogate becomes pregnant and bears the child, but is not genetically related to the child.
Both types of surrogacy are legal in the United States, but the states vary widely in how they treat the process. Georgia generally allows both types of surrogacy, but there are still many legal issues involved.
As with all other states, Georgia law operates under the presumption that the biological parents of a child should have custody, unless other issues arise. For instance, if the court finds that the parent has abused the child, it may find that the best interests of the child lie with granting custody to a third party.
With this principle in mind, there must be a legal adoption process before a non-biological parent can establish custody and parental rights. When surrogacy is involved, the parents must make custody issues clear with the courts, with the surrogate mother and any other interested parties before the baby is born, or as soon afterwards as possible.
To do this requires drafting and signing binding legal contracts with the help of an experienced lawyer. These contracts should make sure that everyone involved has the same expectations about the process, including conception, pregnancy, childbirth and raising the child. By making everyone’s expectations clear, the adoptive parents can reduce the potential for disputes to arise with the birth mother or other involved parties.
Surrogacy may also require help from a whole team of professionals, including a lawyer, a reproductive health doctor, a psychologist and an insurance specialist. Obviously, this need for professional help adds to the time and expense of the process, but it can be essential.