The contract phase: usually one of the most challenging aspects of a surrogacy journey. The terms and conditions of all surrogacy journeys should be legally bound in a contract, ideally written by an attorney who specializes in surrogacy arrangements. Typically, prior to officially matching prospective surrogates and IPs discuss basic contract details such as fees and views on the hot topics of selective reduction and abortion. If they agree to match, lawyers on behalf of the IPs will draft a contract which outlines all of the finer details of a surrogacy arrangement.
After it is drafted, a the surrogate and her attorney will review the contract and will suggest changes on her behalf. After the document is written to everyone’s satisfaction, it is signed, notarized, and filed away for later use for acquisition of the PBO. Sometimes an experienced surrogate will already have an attorney of preference and an existing contract, so her attorney will draft the contract and the IPs’ lawyer will review it and submit the changes.
In rare cases, the attorneys actually hurt the process more than they help it, especially if the surrogate and IPs did very little discussion about their desires prior to consulting the attorneys, or if the attorneys get overzealous and start throwing in their personal tidbits that neither the surrogate or the IPs expected. What you end up with is everybody trying to stir the pot all at once, and the contract phase turns into one big clusterfuck.
The contract phase has caused the dissolution of many surrogate/intended parent matches due to the inability to come to agreements about one or more of the contract’s provisions. However, most of the time the contract phase goes smoothly (albeit sometimes slowly), and both parties are pleased with the resulting document.
Mia, Urs, and I agreed upon everything during our first phone call. We are using the same attorney who wrote my last contract; she is acting on Mia and Urs’ behalf, as I have chosen not to have a lawyer represent me. I’m familiar with this attorney’s contracts, I know exactly what wordings I want for certain things, and I chose not to have separate representation with my last journey, also. Besides, this saves Mia and Urs the cost of hiring a second lawyer.
The contract phase has been a breeze for us. We have received the initial draft of our contract and we are mostly satisfied with it, but we are working together to change the phrasing of some of the terms so that is more acceptable to us. The contract will be finalized over the next week and we will have it notarized the week after next when Mia returns.
There is a current thread on SMO about contract oddities. Like one surrogate’s contract said: No selling of your blood products. Another’s said: …up to three (3) embryos may be transferred to the Husband’s uterus. Or how about: At no time shall the Carrier and Intended Father engage in sexual activities to produce the child.
As I scrutinized my 27-page contract line-by-eye-squinching-line, I came across these common, but like, no duh! provisos that for one reason or another, popped smart assish one-liners into my mind. Here are some things that I am forbidden to do as per the contract:
1. Try to claim that the baby is mine: Any party to this Agreement may request that DNA parentage tests be performed of themselves and of a fetus or Child, for good cause shown, which includes, but is not limited to, doubt expressed by any party concerning parentage.
Damn. Foiled by a DNA test. I was hoping they wouldn’t notice the fact that I’m Black but the baby will be White.
2. Name the baby something spectacularly ghettofab like Shavodka Laquananisha Keylolo* if a girl or Que’Vantario JaKwante if a boy: It shall be the exclusive and sole right of Urs and Mia to make all custodial decisions regarding the Child, including but not limited to Naming the Child….
3. Try to outdo the Gosselins and go for septuplets: Moxie will allow to be transferred up to and including a number of embryos mutually agreed upon with the Intended Parents at the time of transfer (contemplated at the time of this Agreement to be up to two to three (2-3) embryos per transfer). There will be no Discovery Health Channel specials titled "I Gave Birth to 13 Babies, but Only 4 are Mine!" any time in the near future.
4. So much for drinking out of the toilet: Maintain a healthy diet on a daily basis, including but not limited to…fresh purified water….
5. Vacation in Bosnia: The Gestational Carrier shall refrain during pregnancy and at the times of embryo transfers from any and all travel outside of the United States.
6. Tell the Internets all about the details of our contract: All aspects of this Agreement will be kept confidential, including, but not limited to, the identity of the parties, except as expresly agreed by the parties. Uuummm…oops?
*These are the real names of former students, no lie. Laquananisha is pronounced LAH-koo-wah-nah-NEE-sha and at an informal Meet and Greet, Shavodka’s mom cheerfully explained while giving her daughter a That’s right, gurrrlfriend elbow nudge, "That’s how I get pregnant with her – too much vodka!" Riiiiigggghhht. THAT sure explained a lot.