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The Surrogacy Process for Gestational Carriers

The Surrogacy Process can be very overwhelming and confusing. The good news is your not alone! We at Southern Surrogacy are here to help you through the whole process. We have a team to explain and walk you through every step. 

But sometimes it’s nice to see an overview of how the process will unfold.

Take a look at the graphic below to gain an understanding of the Surrogacy process for our  Gestational Carriers:

Keep in mind this graphic is just an overview. The process of Surrogacy is not a “one size fits all”. There are multiple parties involved and laws to abide by so every scenario is different. 

We hope you find this resource useful and reassuring, and we can’t wait for you to start your journey!

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How to support someone going through Surrogacy

Do you know someone going through Surrogacy? Maybe it’s a friend thinking of becoming a Surrogate. Maybe it’s a family member wanting to find a Surrogate to build their family. Whether it’s a Surrogate or an Intended Parent, support is the most important aspect of the Surrogacy journey.

Here are some ways you can support your loved one on this journey of family-building!

  1. Do some research
    1. Research to understand the basics of Surrogacy. You don’t have to know everything, but knowing the basics of the process will help you feel more confident in what’s going on. Make sure your research comes from a medically-backed website. 
    2. Some good places to start:
      1. https://resolve.org/learn/what-are-my-options/surrogacy/
      2. https://southernsurrogacy.com/surrogates/medical-process/
      3. https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/using-surrogate-mother

2. Don’t give advice

Surrogacy can be very overwhelming for the person going through the process. Sometimes we want to help so much that we give advice on what to do. Try to limit the advice, unless asked for advice. Your advice may come with the right intentions, but remember, Surrogacy involves multiple parties, so it’s not as simple as it may appear. Every decision must be discussed and agreed upon within all parties involved. Instead of giving advice, ask your person where their head is at and what they think of certain situations. 

3. Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The person going through Surrogacy may or may not know the answers, but the fact that you asked shows you’re interested. Maybe your question is something they never thought of. Maybe your question is something they were thinking about too, and now you have created an open environment to promote dialogue. Not sure what to ask? How about a simple “How are you feeling?” Or “any updates?”. Simple questions that show you support them. 

Surrogacy is a long and delicate process. Not everyone chooses this path to build a family so it’s only natural if you don’t know much about it or know how to be supportive. But, you don’t have to relate to Surrogacy to be able to support someone going through it. Anything you do to be there for your person is helpful. Be open, be honest, and just be there. 

If you need more ideas on how to support your person, reach out to us. We have a wonderful community of Surrogates and Intended Parents who would love to help you!

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5 Ways to Survive the Holidays while waiting to be Matched 

It’s that time of year again, the holidays. For most this time of year is a Season of love and happiness. A time for traditions, get togethers, and a time of togetherness with loved ones. 

But for some of us, it’s a time of struggle. A reminder of the family we wish we had, and the activities we want to participate in, but we can’t. 

We know sitting on a list, waiting to be matched can feel endless and daunting. 

We know you’re yearning for more, we know your pain, we feel it too. 

But you can survive this holiday season, maybe even enjoy it too! 

Here are our five suggestions on how to survive the holidays, while you wait to be matched:

  1. Work on traditions
    • Identify what traditions you want to have with your dream family. Maybe they are old family traditions you want to continue, or maybe you want to create new traditions. Whatever you choose, identify them and try them out this year with just you and your current family scenario. Yes, it might sting a little the first time, but think of this year as a “practice run”. You never know, you may discover something new that sparks new light in your spirit!
  2. Fundraise
    • The holidays are a great time to fundraise. Remember when we were in school and did those Gift Wrap fundraisers? Why not try something like this to help fund your own Surrogacy journey? Try a Puzzle Fundraiser, or maybe make something homemade and sell to friends and family. If your not crafty, try a gift wrapping service, or personal shopping services.Everyone is overwhelmed during the Holidays, and there are tons of ways you can help someone else, (but charge a small fee to help yourself too). Surrogacy is expensive, and every penny counts. 
  3. Find your own Surrogate
    • Putting yourself out there can be scary, but you never know who you will meet or what you will find. Take some cute holiday pictures, write a blurb on what you’re looking for in a Surrogate and post it on Social Media. Ask family and friends, to share. Or make a short video on who you are and that you’re looking for a Surrogate. Not sure what to do or how to do it? Ask us! We can assist you in making one, or make one for you! We want to help you find your match!
  4. Have a Random year
    • Do something random this year. Just because the holidays are here, doesn’t mean you have to participate (and that’s okay). Or maybe you don’t participate the way you normally would. Use this time of year to travel somewhere you’ve been wanting to go! Stay at a friends house you haven’t seen in a while instead of your parents house. Make a non-traditional meal this year instead of your usual. Maybe this year isn’t going to end the way you thought, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make something great out of it. Use this year as the one year you could do whatever you wanted, that maybe you normally couldn’t get away with.
  5. Take Care of Yourself
    • Do something just for you. Whether it is something fun like ice skating, making a new recipe, getting a massage or curling up and reading a book. Do what you need to do to do some self-care. The holidays are called “holidays” because it means you should take a little vacation from your day to day.

However you decide to survive the upcoming holidays, know we are here for you in any way. We have a community of Intended Parents that would be happy to connect with you! You’re never alone in this journey.

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Three Things every Surrogate should include in their contract

When a Surrogate matches with Intended Parents, there’s an overwhelming feeling of excitement. At first, you  might think about the gift you’re able to give to this family, and all the hope you are inspiring to others. It’s hard not get all caught up in the happiness of it all. But it’s important to make sure you’re covered for any possible situation that may arise. Yes, be excited and enjoy, but make sure you’re also protected. 

This is where your Surrogacy Contract comes into play. This contract is a legally binding contract between you and your Intended Parents. Your Lawyer will review the contract on your behalf, and talk to you through all the items that should be included (or changed)

Today, we want to discuss 3 of the most important things that should be included in your contract:

  1. Insurance that is Surrogacy Friendly

Having Insurance that is Surrogacy friendly should include coverage for prenatal care and delivery during your pregnancy. It should also include any out-of-pocket costs for medical reasons. You also want to make sure your insurance is reviewed again during any open-enrollment periods, or change in employment, to ensure no exclusions have been added.  If your insurance has an exclusion for Surrogacy, then a new Surrogacy-friendly policy will need to be purchased and your Intended Parents will be responsible for the premiums, deductibles, and co-pays for the new insurance. 

  1. Outline clear expectations on Termination or Selective Reduction of Pregnancy

You want to make sure both you and your Intended Parents have the same view points regarding termination or selective reduction of a pregnancy, and that those expectations are written clearly in your contract. Your contract should include information that track the laws in the surrogate’s state and where the surrogate gives birth.

  1. All expenses are outlined and covered by Intended Parents

During pregnancy, a lot of extra expenses could arise. These expenses should be  paid for by your Intended Parents and should be written in your contract. 

Expenses could include (but are not limited to):

  • Travel Expenses
  • Maternity Clothes
  • Co pays, deductibles or out of pocket payments
  • Life insurance
  • Lost wages during Pregnancy
  • Childcare and Housekeeping if you go on bed rest
  • Incidental Expenses of any kind

Every pregnancy is different, and while the needs of each Surrogate are not the same, they all require one thing-Protection. Your contract is meant to protect you, your Intended Parents, and the Pregnancy. Take your time reviewing your contract, and never hesitate to ask questions or ask for clarification. 

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Top Ten things to think about with Surrogacy, now that Roe vs. Wade is overturned

The Supreme Courts decision of overturning “Roe vs Wade” has left many in the Surrogacy world confused, concerned, and uncomfortable. We want our Intended Parents, and Surrogates to know that we understand your frustrations, and we are here to assist you in any way we can. 

It’s important to understand that each state has its own Surrogacy Laws. As we learn more information about the changes in laws for the states that we work with, we will share those changes with you. But, no matter what state you live in, there are certain things you can think about and consider before you starting your Surrogacy Journey.

  1. It is important to understand the laws surrounding abortion in the Surrogate’s state, and the state where the embryos are located, before starting your surrogacy journey. It is key to have an experienced fertility attorney (not a family law attorney) in the state that the Surrogate will be giving birth in, to advise you on the impact of the laws on your surrogacy journey. One place to look for an experienced attorney is adoptionart.org
  1. The wait times to be matched with a Surrogate may be longer. More women may be concerned with the impact on the overturning of Roe v. Wade and thus may not be willing to be a Surrogate. Also, COVID has made an impact on matching wait times, due to Fertility Clinic protocols and new requirements reflecting those protocols. 
  1. Intended Parents and Surrogates should have the same views regarding abortion and selective reduction.  
  1. At the heart of a surrogacy journey is trust between the Intended Parents and the Surrogate! So it is imperative that Intended Parents and Surrogates have open communication and trust each other throughout the process. 
  1. Discuss with the Surrogate whether she would be willing to travel to another state if her home state didn’t allow for an abortion, and is this permitted by her state’s laws. Intended Parents may be responsible for the travel and medical expenses related to the Surrogate going out of state for an abortion.
  1. Parties need to know whether a Surrogate’s insurance will cover the cost of an abortion and if it will be covered if she goes out of state for an abortion.
  1. Intended Parents may want to consider having their embryos genetically tested and/or themselves genetically tested to understand the likelihood for a healthy baby.
  1. Intended Parents should discuss with their doctor what genetic conditions can’t be tested, so they are educated on conditions that could arise. 
  1. Intended Parents need to understand the laws of the state where their embryos are located to determine their rights regarding how they want to handle any remaining embryos after they have finished building their family.
  1. VOTE!!! It is vitally important to vote so that your voice is heard regarding surrogacy, abortion and your embryos!

We hope this list gives you some important things to think about, and encourages some peace of mind as you navigate Surrogacy during this historical time. 

Remember, we are all in this together. Ask questions, and communicate your concerns with all parties involved in your Surrogacy Journey. 

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The Baby Waiting Game

The phrase “hurry up and wait” is all too common for us in the world of fertility. The waiting game starts when trying to find the right person to share your life with. Then there’s the waiting for the right time. Maybe the waiting starts at the first appointment or for test results. My favorite waiting game are those 3 minutes for a Dollar store pregnancy test to determine the next phase of my life. Or maybe you’re like me and your “hurry up and wait” has managed to last 6.5 years. Now you’re literally sitting on a waiting list to be matched with someone who will gift you with the opportunity to try again. And even after you match you still have to play the game again. Wait to be cleared, wait for appointments, wait for the call, wait, wait, wait. It can be maddening. So how do we play the game? There’s no right or wrong way to play, but you have to play or you will go crazy. Personally, I am a very impatient person, and this waiting game can play with someone else for all I care. But we all know that the prize at the end of the game is worth it, so okay I will play. But I’m not happy about it. 

Whether you just started playing The Baby Waiting Game, or you have been at it for a while, just know you’re not the only player. But maybe we can help each other get thru this (you know like make some kind of cheat codes or form an alliance! Haha).

Here are some of my “cheat codes” when playing The Baby Waiting Game. Good luck! 

Take this opportunity to bring in some money to assist with the costs. There’s tons of ideas for fundraising. We did a Puzzle fundraiser, a T-Shirt fundraiser, we even teamed up with a local business who did s fundraiser night and donated a % of the proceeds to our cause. There’s a lot of ideas out there! 

Get your house ready for that baby. Do house projects  that maybe you would have put off if the baby was here. Maybe you want to move to a bigger/smaller house.

I changed job industries. I left my job that I was at for 10 years and dived into another industry. I took a pay-cut, but I was able to try something new without worrying about it effecting my family and our finances. Maybe now is the time to go for that job you always wanted or hey maybe its time to go back to school! OR maybe it’s time to start that new business  you have been thinking of. If you try it now go for it!

When the baby gets here going on vacations will be different. So take this time to go to the places you have always wanted. 

Do all the things that you want to do for you. When your baby gets here, you will be so in love, and focused on your new family unit. So take advantage of this time to do all the things you want to do for yourself. Try new things, or maybe bring back old-things into your life. Just focus on you right now, because you’re going to need those reminders of who you are outside of parenthood some day. So build up those reminders now while you have the time. 

It doesn’t matter what you decide to do with your time. Just remember you only get one life to live, so live it the way you want. Don’t let The Baby Waiting Game take up so much room in your life that you forget to actually live! These are just suggestions from my own personal experience. If you could add more to this list, do it! I would love to hear other ideas on how you beat The Baby Waiting Game. 

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Custody Of Embryos In Event Of Divorce

For many couples, the only way to build their family is through assisted reproductive technologies (ART) including in vitro fertilization (IVF). With IVF, eggs are retrieved from a woman’s body and fertilized with sperm in the laboratory, creating embryos that are grown for several days outside the body. At that point, many embryos are cryopreserved prior to transfer to a woman’s uterus. What becomes of such embryos if they remain in storage at the time of progenitors’ divorce?

Reproductive clinics usually require couples to sign documents detailing disposition of their embryos in the event of their deaths and in the event of non-payment of storage fees. Clinics may also require agreement between the couple detailing what should happen if the couple divorces or one spouse is incapacitated while embryos are frozen. Options include procreation by one or both spouses, donation to medical research, or thaw and degeneration of the embryos. In California, New Jersey and Massachusetts it is required by statute that the fertility center mandate their patients to agree on disposition in a variety of circumstances, including divorce (See for example, California: Health and Safety Code 125315).

There have been several reported cases on the issue of what happens to embryos in controversy in divorce proceedings. In general, courts have followed specific agreements made by the progenitors prior to dissolution of marriage, including awarding embryos to the spouse designated by previous mutual agreement. However, if divorce was not contemplated in any consent form or agreement, courts have been hesitant to allow procreation by a former spouse against the other former spouse’s wishes (See Davis v. Davis (Tenn. 1992) 842 S.W.2d 588 and Kass v. Kass (N.Y. 1998) 696 N.E.2d 174). In fact, there is only one reported instance of a court allowing a former spouse to procreate using the genetic material of their former spouse over his objection. In it, the court used a balancing approach to award embryos to the wife when facts showed she was a cancer survivor who had no other means of procreation with her own genetic material (Reber v. Reiss (Pa. Super. Ct. 2012) 42 A.3d 1131). The parties in Reber v. Reiss had not agreed to any particular disposition in the event of death or divorce and their clinic had not required them to do so.

North Carolina does not have statutory guidance or reported cases on the issue of embryo disposition during equitable distribution. Therefore, attorneys should counsel their clients to enter into direct agreement with each other during marriage to clearly state their intent for disposition of embryos in the event of divorce, death or incapacity. Fertility clinics should also require consent forms be signed detailing embryo disposition in a variety of circumstances. And, to avoid confusion over intent, patients need to be sure that if they do sign a separate direct agreement with each other, that it is consistent with the consent forms on file with their medical provider.

Originally posted at ncbarblog.com.

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Southern Surrogacy Directors’ Retreat

Lynn Holland Goldman at our snowbound retreat.
Lynn Holland Goldman at our snowbound retreat.

Southern Surrogacy’s four directors, Ruth F. Claiborne, Amy Wallas Fox, Lila Newberry Bradley and Lynn Holland Goldman gathered together in Highlands, North Carolina for a 2 day retreat this week. We were nearly snowed in! In addition to making significant progress on business matters, we took a hike, cooked a mean surf and turf dinner and enjoyed beautiful scenery.

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Update from the Executive Director

Finally – a real blog post! Since Southern Surrogacy, LLC was formed we have had some exciting changes. The most significant is that we now have an office in Charlotte, North Carolina in addition to our offices in Atlanta and Savannah. We are working with local fertility centers here in North Carolina to be sure that local prospective intended parents and gestational carriers know that we are here. We continue to work with families who are looking for gestational carriers and women interested in serving as gestational carriers in the entire southeast region including Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida. If you have interest in our program please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

 

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Welcome to our blog, we will be posting here on a regular basis from here on out!

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