Gestational Surrogacy in California: Steps, Processes, and Laws

Gestational Surrogacy in California Steps, Processes, & Laws

California should be the number one option for anyone looking to become a parent through surrogacy – and for many reasons. The state’s friendly surrogacy laws, leading fertility clinics, surrogacy agencies, and supportive community have helped make it a go-to choice for both Surrogates and Intended Parents (IPs).

However, surrogacy is a physically and emotionally taxing journey for Gestational Carriers and hopeful parents alike.

The processes, steps, and conditions involved in surrogacy can appear complex and overwhelming. In this article, we will cover the steps, procedures, and legal aspects of the surrogacy process to help make this life-changing journey easier for you.

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Why Choose California for your Gestational Surrogacy?

California has favorable surrogacy laws

One of the biggest advantages of selecting California for your surrogacy is that the state legally permits

  • traditional surrogacy
  • commercial surrogacy
  • same-sex surrogacy

California is the US state with the clearest, most straightforward, and friendly surrogacy laws, which help make sure the rights of everybody involved — the Gestational Carrier, the egg donor (if required), the Intended Parents, and the baby — are well-protected. Gestational surrogacy is permitted by the statute of California Family Law Sections 7960 – 7962 (2013), along with well-debated supporting case laws.

Due to this, it’s much easier to establish parental rights in California than in any other state in the US, and in most cases, hopeful parents don’t even need to enter a courtroom.

Plus, California is one of the few American states where Intended Parents can establish parental rights over the baby before he or she is born. This is usually done with a pre-birth order, which allows the following:

  • Enables the Intended Parents to be declared the legal parents of the child
  • Allows the parents’ names to be written on the child’s birth certificate
  • Give the Intended Parents the right to make necessary medical decisions for the child
  • Allows the Intended Parents to take the baby home once he or she is discharged from the hospital.

With a one-stop surrogacy agency like Physician’s Surrogacy, important paperwork is handled by the lawyers representing both parties. The Surrogates and Intended Parents just need to sign the documents as necessary.

Pre-birth parentage laws in California helps in surrogacy

1. Courts grant pre-birth parentage orders under California Family Code Section 7633 but, it does not come into effect until the moment of birth.

2. Both Intended Parents can be declared the legal parents in a pre-birth order if at least one parent is genetically related to the child. Parents can be:

  • Married heterosexual couple using their own egg and own sperm
  • Married heterosexual couple using an egg donor or sperm donor
  • Unmarried heterosexual couple using their own egg and own sperm
  • Unmarried heterosexual couple using an egg donor or sperm donor
  • Married same-sex couple using an egg donor or sperm donor
  • Unmarried same-sex couple using an egg donor or sperm donor
  • Single parent using their own egg or sperm

3. Both Intended Parents can be declared the legal parents in a pre-birth order if no parent is genetically related to the child. Parents can be:

  • Married heterosexual couple
  • Unmarried heterosexual couple
  • Same-sex couple
  • Single parent

4. Bases for venue include:

  • county of the child’s birthplace
  • county of the Intended Parent’s residence
  • Gestational Surrogate’s residence county
  • county where surrogacy agreement was executed, or
  • county where the medical procedures of the surrogacy agreement were performed.

5. Although results are the same by the venue, procedures may vary.

6. Motions to waive the venue is not accepted.

7. Although most counties do not require a hearing to obtain a pre-birth order, it may vary from place to place.

8. As per the California Family Code — Section 7962(e), a pre-birth order in California is possible even if a Gestational Carrier plans to deliver in California, but no party lives in California. For this an action may be filed in:

  • the county where the child is anticipated to be born
  • the county where the Intended Parent or Intended Parents reside
  • Surrogate’s residence county
  • the county where the assisted reproduction agreement for Gestational Carriers is executed, or
  • the county where medical procedures pursuant to the agreement are to be performed.

9. The California Vital Records honor pre-birth orders from another state.

10. Although the time frame to obtain a birth certificate after delivery varies by county, it generally takes 5-10 business days.

Top surrogacy clinics and experienced surrogacy professionals

California is home to some of the top surrogacy professionals and best fertility clinics in the United States. surrogacy fertility clinics have started to use the latest technology and recent findings in the field of embryology.

With great advances in fertility treatment and an abundance of expert surrogacy professionals, Intended Parents and Surrogates can embark on their surrogacy journey in California with utmost confidence.

California is a place of refuge for homosexual couples, international parents, and single parents considering surrogacy

The state allows anyone who wants to become a parent to undergo the surrogacy process.

The parentage orders and laws mentioned above apply to all hopeful parents – regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation, gender, and whether or not they are genetically related to the child (in case donor sperm and/or eggs are needed).

California also has jurisdiction over nearly all surrogacy cases done in the state, such as cases where:

  • The surrogacy contract was signed in California
  • Medical procedures are carried out in California
  • Intended Parents live in California during the time of surrogacy
  • The Surrogate mom resides in the state at the time of surrogacy

Moreover, California allows same-sex couples to:

  • Be named on the final birth certificate as: parents can choose father, parent, or mother (as of 1/1/16).
  • Obtain an initial birth certificate naming the biological father and Gestational Carrier for international same-sex male couples.
  • Subsequently obtain a birth certificate naming only the biological father or both fathers, with no mention of the Gestational Carrier
  • Obtain a second parent adoption based solely on the fact that the child was born in California, for the non-biological parent in a same-sex couple (even when neither of the Intended Parents is living in California). However, the Gestational Carrier must be living in California.

These laws are beneficial for Intended Parents who don’t reside in the state or even in the US and have come to California solely for surrogacy purposes and for those who want to leave the state once the surrogacy journey has been completed.

Whatever the case, everybody involved in the surrogacy process is protected by California’s friendly and inclusive laws.

There are certain criteria that one needs to meet to make their surrogacy agreement valid according to California laws:

  • California surrogacy laws require that both the Surrogate and the Intended Parents have different attorneys representing them. Both parties cannot share the same legal counsel.
  • The surrogacy contract must be notarized before it can be considered valid under the law. Specifically, the agreement needs to be executed and notarized before the start of injectable fertility medications that are used for embryo transfer and IVF procedures.
  • California surrogacy laws require that both the Intended Parents and Surrogate must prove their compliance with all these laws. Else, they may face perjury charges.

Cost of Surrogacy in California

On average, the cost of surrogacy in California can be between $120,000 to $160,000 including Surrogate compensation and agency fees. The expenses incurred in gestational surrogacy in California may be a bit costlier compared to other states due to the high demand for Surrogates and other flexibilities discussed above.

However, there are many ways that can be helpful in reducing the expenses of surrogacy. Also, Intended Parents willing to use a Gestational Surrogate to build their family have the option of buying separate Surrogate insurance. The premiums of such surrogacy insurance plans come around $10,000 and deductibles ranging from $15,000 – $30,000, based on the number of embryos they are willing to use.

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Steps for completing your gestational surrogacy in California

The surrogacy process in California can be divided into 7 simple steps:

  • Commitment
  • Selecting the type of surrogacy
  • Selecting the surrogacy experts
  • Matching with your surrogate
  • Undergoing the legal processes
  • Completing the medical procedures
  • Going home with your baby

Now, let’s discuss each of these steps involved in the surrogacy journey in California.

1. Committing to the surrogacy process

The whole gestational surrogacy process can last up to 12 months and requires that you invest a lot of resources and patience. Both parties need to be dedicated in order to commit to this parenthood journey.

So, before going forward, ponder on the journey ahead and what is involved.

Find out about the physical, emotional, and legal aspects of surrogacy in California. Talk to your partner and discuss how the surrogacy journey can impact you and your family and what you will do to handle this.

As a gestational carrier, you should also think about how becoming a Surrogate will affect your body, work, career, and your family.

Whether you are a hopeful parent or a Surrogate, you need to be sure of your reason for pursuing surrogacy. Ensure that you are choosing surrogacy for the right reason and that your motives are worth commencing this life-changing journey.

2. Choosing the type of surrogacy

After you’ve decided that surrogacy is the ideal option for you, the next thing you have to do is choose the type of surrogacy that’s best for you. Generally, there are 2 types of surrogacy:

Traditional surrogacy:

This is an uncommon type of surrogacy, nowadays. In traditional surrogacy, the Surrogate mother uses her own egg, which is fertilized with the intended father’s or donor’s sperm via intrauterine insemination and she’s genetically related to the baby.

While traditional surrogacy is allowed, it is not legally addressed in California. This type of surrogacy comes with more emotional and legal risks, which explains why it is very rare.

Gestational surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy arrangement today.

In this case, the Surrogate mother shares no genetic ties with the baby since the egg and sperm come from donors or the hopeful parents themselves. The embryo(s) are formed using in vitro fertilization (IVF) and are implanted in the womb of the Gestational Carrier, who then carries the baby to term.

Aside from being legal, gestational surrogacy is also well-regulated in the Golden State, making California a favorite and safe choice for people looking to build their families.

3. Selecting the surrogacy expert in California

It’s important that Surrogates and Intended Parents work with surrogacy professionals in order to ensure full safety and rights protection. The 3 types of surrogacy experts you are going to need in California include:

i. Surrogacy agency

A surrogacy agency renders nearly all the services you will need to complete your surrogacy, ensuring better success chances with minimal hassles.

Typically, a surrogacy agency offers the following services for the Surrogates and the Intended Parents:

  • screening process
  • matching process
  • case management
  • counseling services
  • referrals and so on
ii. Surrogacy attorneys

As mentioned above, lawyers offer the legal services required to complete your surrogacy journey in California. Surrogacy lawyers carry out these tasks:

  • Offer guidance and explain the surrogacy laws and regulations in the state.
  • Take care of the paperwork, draft the surrogacy contract, and help you complete your agreement.
  • Negotiate the surrogacy contract terms with the Surrogate, the sperm or egg donor, or other parties involved.
  • Ensure your surrogacy is completed legally
  • Protect the interests and rights of everybody involved
  • Help the hopeful parents establish parental rights as soon as possible
  • Settle disputes and help with advocacy (should such issues arise)

Note: surrogacy lawyers don’t usually match Intended Parents with Surrogates. However, they may refer them to surrogacy agencies and experts who render the services.

iii. Surrogacy clinics

This is where the “main” medical procedures occur, such as –

  • Egg retrieval
  • Embryo creation
  • Ultrasounds
  • Genetic screening
  • Other procedures involved in IVF

Selecting the right surrogacy clinic (fertility clinic) is essential in order to have a hassle-free, successful surrogacy journey. A good surrogacy clinic makes sure all the medical procedures are well carried out and that they lead to the birth of a healthy baby.

While hopeful parents may decide to work with any surrogacy clinic of their choice, most surrogacy agencies have partner fertility clinics that they recommend for Intended Parents.

Physician’s Surrogacy is a one-stop surrogacy agency and is in partnership with leading fertility clinics and lawyers in California and all over the United States. We offer all the services above to make your surrogacy in California go smoothly and be less time-taking.

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4. Selecting a Surrogacy Partner

Although your surrogacy process is taking place in California, your surrogacy partner can come from anywhere in the United States. In fact, a lot of matches occur between Intended Parents and Surrogates who live far apart, and yet, they have a wonderful relationship with each other.

If you are yet to have a surrogacy partner, the agency can help pair you with one. The surrogacy agency will let you see the profiles of already-screened Gestational Carriers or Intended Parents for possible matches. After that, you can select your surrogacy partner from those profiles based on shared goals, expectations, among other requirements.

Important note: It’s always better to work with a reputable agency when embarking on a surrogacy journey. But if you would like to proceed on the journey on your own, make sure to be very careful. When pursuing surrogacy independently, you are the only one responsible for the matches you met online or through referrals from friends or family. Plus, pursuing an independent surrogacy journey increases your risk of being duped.

After you have found a match for your surrogacy journey, you need to complete the legal processes before starting the medical procedures.

As mentioned earlier, gestational surrogacy in California is governed by the state’s Family Code § 7960. This section makes the surrogacy process easy and straightforward for Intended Parents and Surrogates. Also, California allows pre-birth parentage orders to be made without any need for a court hearing, easily giving Intended Parents legal rights over the baby.

California surrogacy laws require that the contract includes the following:

  • The date of execution of the contract
  • The people donating the gametes to be used
  • The Intended Parents’ names
  • The process for pre-birth parentage orders
  • Risks and responsibilities of the Surrogate and Intended Parents
  • Compensation to be paid to the Surrogate
  • Agreement on important issues like selective reduction or other possible circumstances
  • Expectations on the surrogacy contract and who is going to be there during important clinic appointments and childbirth

Your lawyer will be there when the contract is being drafted to make sure your process is done according to California surrogacy laws.

6. Complete the medical procedures of surrogacy in California

After finalizing your surrogacy contract, you will then move to the medical aspect of the process.

To become a Gestational Surrogate in California, a woman has to meet some health criteria and undergo several screening processes. This is carried out in order to ensure that the woman is physically and mentally healthy enough to go on the surrogacy journey.

Here are the basic requirements a prospective Surrogate must fulfill to be accepted for the program:

  • Aged between 21- and 41-years-old.
  • Have a BMI < 33.
  • Have successfully delivered a child of their own and are currently parenting at least one child.
  • Be a citizen of the United States.
  • Be a resident of AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, IL, , NJ, NH, MD, ME, OR, NV, RI, SC, WA, VT, TX, OH, OK, MO, IN, MA, TN.
  • Be a non-smoker and live in a non-smoking environment.
  • Free from any sexually transmitted diseases that can pose serious harm to you and the baby.
  • Have not been to a country infected with Zika within the last six months.

Gestational Carriers in California will also take fertility medications and hormone injections to ensure a successful embryo transfer, which usually occurs at the fertility clinic chosen by the Intended Parents.

The embryo is created inside the laboratory through IVF (in vitro fertilization). The eggs and sperm from the Intended Parents or donors can be used for this process. The embryos formed are then implanted in the womb of the Gestational Surrogate.

Most times, two or more cycles of embryo transfers may be required before a healthy pregnancy is achieved. Once the doctor has confirmed that the Surrogate is pregnant, she will start to receive base compensation and allowances every month based on the surrogacy contract validated by California laws.

Surrogate mothers may also visit their own obstetrician or gynecologist for regular prenatal checkups during the course of their pregnancy. Surrogates and hopeful parents can stay in contact as much as both parties want.

7. Take the baby home!

In case the surrogacy match lives in different states, the hopeful parents will travel to meet the Surrogate mother when it is time for delivery. If both parties agree, Intended Parents may be in the delivery room with their Surrogate so that both of them can share the wonderful experience of a surrogacy birth together.

As a matter of fact, a lot of parents and Surrogates remain in contact, even after the surrogacy journey is completed, and many go on to become a part of each other’s family.

A word from Physician’s Surrogacy

Surrogacy can change the way we see parenthood and the lives of everyone involved forever. All the sacrifices, resources, patience, and people are focused on gifting the most wonderful gift in the world – the gift of parenthood.

If you are looking to become parents through surrogacy in California or the rest of the U.S. or have any questions about the process, contact Physician’s Surrogacy today. We provide a free consultation for all Intended Parents interested in surrogacy and are willing to answer any questions you may have.

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