Top ten questions to ask before signing up with an IVF clinic, law office, or agency as a surrogate

issue1Attorney Theresa M. Erickson recommends:

1. Contact a Reproductive Lawyer or IVF Clinic for recommendations – the lawyers and the doctors are the licensed professionals in this field, as are the psychologists, and they can often give good advice on where to begin your journey. You might also find a lawyer you want to work with when it becomes time to sign and review agreements with Intended Parents.

2. What if the lawyer or clinic has their own agency for matching surrogates with parents? Well, I myself own an agency, so I can speak clearly to the potential conflicts of interest that can arise between you and the agency or the clinic; however, here are a few things to remember:

a. Doctors and lawyers are licensed professionals who have licenses that they have worked hard to obtain and maintain. At least in my office, surrogates always get their own attorneys, their own psychologist, and their own support separate from me. But remember, doctors are not lawyers just as lawyers are not doctors – it is that simple.

b. If an IVF physician has an agency, how is their money held for their surrogates? It is unlikely that they are licensed and bonded escrow holders, and they are not attorneys whose clients are protected by the state bar’s client security fund, so ask that question. Physicians do not have the same protections as the attorney’s trust account does.

c. With an IVF Physician, what happens at 12 weeks when you are released to your OB physician? Do they have the staff to do that, and who is that? How does the clinic still handle and facilitate your arrangement, if at all? Make sure you are being supported all the way to the end, not just until the pregnancy reaches the first trimester.

d. Now, as for your health and physical well being, the other issue that some have is the conflict of interest that a doctor has with his patient, the surrogate, and his patient, the Intended Parents. Again, as it has to do with your health and well-being, make certain that you get independent legal representation and ask questions. It is your body and your health, so you must be diligent in making certain that you are being protected too. Many, many IVF Physicians are wonderful, caring doctors, but you must ask questions to ensure you are being protected. Also, ask what their success rates are and how long they have been practicing IVF?

3. Agencies – yes, they are unregulated, unlicensed, etc. – but, speak with them too – better yet, meet with them in their office and meet the staff. Some are very reputable. Ask a reproductive lawyer or IVF clinic for recommendations. Then, call and interview them. Ask them the following:

a. Are they a match making service only, or do they provide support throughout the entire process through delivery and beyond?

b. How are their surrogates and donors funds held? Make certain that they are held by an escrow company or by an attorney.

c. What type of support do they provide? Get specifics. What type of staff do they have and how many people are there for you in the office?

d. Do they have parents waiting? If not, how long will you have to wait? Remember, promises of being matched immediately are empty, as each case if different. Also, ask how many matches they do per year and per month.

e. How long have they been in business? Can you speak with other surrogates?

f. Agencies are not medical providers, but the reputable ones know what they are doing and are instrumental in helping you select a physician, psychologist, etc., as well as helping you get answers when the medical aspect is unclear. Don’t think that you will be left with inadequate medical care if you go through an agency.

g. Reputable agencies are insured against Errors & Omissions Insurance. Ask if they carry it.

h. Does the agency have surrogate support group meetings and/or annual parties? These are always alot of fun, and there are usually prizes for the winners of contests. This is also a great way to meet other women like yourself who are going through many of the same things.

Must Know Facts for Intended Parents Using Surrogates

issue2My husband and I have learned SO MUCH through the process of our surrogacy experience and I hope that you can benefit from our lessons/mistakes/education.  First, every surrogacy agency, ibncluding our’s – Circle Surrogacy, will play down the costs.  There are numerous hidden costs that are not on their cost lists, such as personal travel, car rental, hotel, gifts…  We are due in September and we have spent over $145,000.00!

Second, make sure you know whether your surrogate has her own health insurance.  Ours does not and it has cost us almost $25,000.00 in extra fees.  Our agency said that we might have to wait “a verry long time” if we did not choose the surrogate that we currently have.  She is great and I love her, but if I had known then what I know now, we would have chosen someone else.

Make sure that your agency tells you EXACTLY what the legal situation is in the state where your child will be born in regards to the amendment of the birth certificate after the non-bio parent goes through the second parent adoption process.  Our agency found us a local attorney in North Carolina who did not know exactly how this would work.  He finally discovered that in North Carolina, there is no gender nuetral birth certificate document, so I will be listed as my son’s mother.  We also has to sue our donor, our carrier and our carrier’s husband AND WE ALL HAD TO APPEAR IN COURT IN NORTH CAROLINA.  Our donor and carrier were served with a summons without being forewarned and, as the intended parents, we are footing the bill for all of this.

I have tried to have a positive outlook, keeping my eye on the prize, so to speak.  I know that when we meet our son, all of the worries will diminish; however, I wish that someone had shared with me the details of what would be required, both financially and legally.

TNG4EVR in NY

Surrogacy and Medi-Cal Insurance

This past week I received a telephone call from a surrogate who wanted to know if it was legal for her to use her insurance for her surrogacy. She and the Intended Parent were using a contract that he found on the Internet. The surrogate seemed to think this was okay because he is attending law school so he is an attorney. I explained to her that until he passed the Bar and obtains his license, he is not an attorney. “Oh” and then “well” was her response.

She then told me that her husband is in construction so they are on Medi-Cal (the state of California’s low-income insurance plan) so they are going to have two contracts. One that states that the Surrogate is not receiving a fee, which they will send to Medi-Cal as proof that she is doing the surrogacy for no fee and then an amendment that states the fees she will be receiving. She then asked “Is that legal?”

“No. That is insurance fraud and if the insurance company that administers your plan finds out you and your family will lose your insurance, at the very least.” I then told her to hire an attorney to protect herself and that if she wants to hire me I would charge more than my going rate because a contract found off the Internet is going to require a lot of work. I also told her to not use her Medi-Cal insurance and that the Intended Parent needs to purchase her insurance to cover the surrogate pregnancy. Frankly, I think she somehow expected me to say something different.

Insurance companies are very, very serious about insurance fraud, especially regarding surrogacy. Medi-Cal insurance does not usually have a surrogacy exclusion so as long as the surrogacy is truly altruistic and there is no compensation paid to the surrogate and the insurance does not exclude a surrogate pregnancy, it is appropriate to use it. But, absolutely not in this surrogate’s case. I wish her the best of luck as I’m afraid she’s going to need it.

Becoming Pregnant

We are there…..What can we expect next?

Once you get over the hurdles of an IVF cycle and get the invigorating call, you can begin the emotional rollercaoster of being pregnant. As many say no pregnancy is alike nor are the few extras that come with it.

If you follow our footsteps, the carrier has to continue taking the progesterone shots until 12 weeks and the estrogen pills. You will continue to get monitored by your IVF team until your 12th week where if all looks good you will be turned over to your OBGYN.  At this point it becomes a “normal” pregnancy in the sense where you now follow OB’s instructions and planned sonograms.

You will find yourself having much more sonograms and ultrasounds then if you did it differently but this is just protocol, no need to worry if your heterosexual best friend has only had 3 in total and you are going on your sixth.

I would also recommend that you start your adoption paperwork as soon as you become regnant because it can take a few months to get things rolling.

If you qualify begin your estate planning, there are alot of essential bases you need to do to protect your family.

Wishing every family great success.

I wanted to invite you to ask me any questions that you may have during this type of procedure. I know It is alot of information to receive but Maria and I would be so excited to share our stories with you all .

Finding Perspective Parents

Hello,

If you are looking to place your child or know someone who is, please pass this along. We have dreamed of beginning this process and are ready to create a loving home for your child.  Ricky, adopted at age 1 & 1/2, understands how important being placed with a loving and caring family is and we are ready to give that wonderful gift back. We are choosing an open adoption for many reasons.  We know it is important to have adoption questions answered in a truthful and honest manner when dealing with an adopted child.  This has given Ricky acceptance, understanding, growth and maturity growing up. We wish the same for your child and look forward to making the openness work for the level you are most comfortable with.
Adoption: It’s About Love
We are excited to build our forever family through adoption.
It is an honor for us to share our family with you.
Please feel free to call our agency or email.
We would love to hear from you!
Sincerely, Anthony & Ricky
Open & Loving Adoptive Parents
VIEW OUR PRINTABLE PROFILE:
http://www.friendsinadoption.org/fia_waiting_family_profiles/ricky_anthony.pdf
Become a member of our Facebook Fan Page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Future-Together-Through-Adoption/55485353785?ref=share

Call our agency toll-free at 1-800-844-3630
Agency Email: fia@friendsinadoption.org Our Email: AFutureTogether@me.com
Website: www.AFutureTogether.com

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Optional places to distribute adoption cards:
• Grocery Stores • Gas Stations
• Hair Stylists • Nail Salons
• Physicians • OBGYN
• Restrooms • Rest Stops
• Unitarian / Churches • Social Workers
• Community Leaders • Community Centers
• Community Festivals • Bulletin Boards
• College Campus • Planned Parenthood Organizations
• Family Planning Centers • Gym
• Libraries • Business Card ‘Free Drawing’ Bowls
• Telephone Booths • Networking Events
• Hospitals • YWCA / YMCA
• Free Health Clinics • Low income housing boards
• Laundromats • Shelters: Women’s / Homeless
• Senior Citizen Centers • Utility Bills
• Coffee Shops
Other places to spread the word:
• Family / Friends / Co-workers
• Adoption Website
• www.parentgallery.com
• Facebook / Fan Page
• YouTube
• Craig’s List
• Holiday / Family Newsletters
• Birthday or Anniversary Cards

Update to Providing Insurance For Your Surrogate

Now I read that Beitler Insurance, our insurance company, is being sued by New Life Agency for a surrogate’s maternity bills.   Go to http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS106349+19-May-2009+PRN20090519

–  Anthony

Providing Insurance for your Carrier

OK-  When a surrogacy agency tells you that your carrier is uninsured, but that it is not a problem, think twice.  We have a great carrier, and agency, but the insurance provider, Beitler Insurance has allowed medical bills to be sent directly to the surrogate, some even going into collection.  This is unacceptable.  We already funded the medical trust and don’t know why this could continue for 6 weeks.  It is a big problem now so make sure that your surrogate has her own insurance or that you have a good insurance provider.

Anthony & Gary