Navigating Surrogacy Laws in Different States


From newspaper headlines to morning shows, surrogacy has become a big topic with a huge impact. A quick look at social media will even show you the growing number of women deciding to become surrogates to help others expand their families. These platforms show us the tenacious and exciting journey of surrogates giving others a chance to become parents, but one thing we don’t hear much about is the legality of all of it. Here’s what you should know about navigating surrogacy laws across different states.

Surrogacy Gaining Acceptance, But Where’s The Legal Clarity?

It’s difficult not to notice the growing number of individuals that are becoming parents via surrogacy, and even more people are considering surrogacy. Recent statistics suggest that more than 2,000 children in the United States are born to surrogates each year. These figures may actually underestimate the true scope of surrogacy. But, even as surrogacy gains increasing acceptance as an effective way to address severe fertility challenges, laws have failed to keep pace with these changes. Not only have laws lagged behind scientific development, there is also a dramatic difference in laws between states.
These differences make it hard for intended parents and gestational surrogates to successfully navigate the system, particularly, because the parents and surrogates often live in different states. Given the complexity of these laws and these dramatic differences, it is often helpful to have people, like those at Simple Surrogacy, working on your side to better understand surrogacy laws.

Surrogacy Is Regulated By State Laws, Not Federal Laws

First, it is important to know that in the United States there are no federal laws that govern surrogacy. Instead, regulations are made by states. This means that variations can be dramatic, based on factors ranging from legal considerations to different states’ moral perspective on surrogacy.
To give you an idea, Texas offers full protection to married couples in donor and gestational arrangements. This means that when the baby is born, the intended parents are recognized as the child’s legal parents on the birth certificate. That means there’s no need to go to court for second-parent adoption since the surrogate relinquished their parental rights before birth. Plus, if the intended parents doesn’t live in Texas but the surrogate does, then this law still applies. This is a major reason why families nationwide look to Simple Surrogacy as their surrogacy agency.

Surrogacy Friendly vs Non-Friendly States

In general, states are typically divided into two categories. These are: surrogacy friendly or surrogacy non-friendly states. In actuality, many states fall into an ambiguous gray area, with some laws that could be seen to support surrogacy and others that make it more difficult to develop and implement surrogacy contracts.

What Surrogacy Friendly vs Non-Friendly Really Means

Surrogacy-friendly states include: Texas, California, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Being surrogate friendly, generally means that surrogate laws are written in a way that protects the right of the prospective parents to be granted custody following the birth of their child. The surrogate laws also respect the rights of all parents. This means that the rights of prospective parents to have a child via surrogacy will not hinge on issues, such as the parents’ sexual orientation or their marital status. These surrogacy laws help give prospective parents confidence that their rights will be protected during the birth process.
But, there are also numerous states where rights are less likely to be protected or surrogacy is not even possible because of contrary or non-existent laws on surrogacy. These states include: Michigan, New York, and Louisana. In these states, the prospective parents either cannot obtain pre-birth orders depending on their sexual orientation or marital status or parents may be fined or prosecuted for entering into paid relationships with surrogates.
Given these dramatic differences in surrogacy laws, it is vitally important that intended parents have full information before starting a surrogacy relationship.

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