Sunday, April 19, 2009

wow these are harder than i thought.

Contracts!! Don't they sound like the most fun you can ever have. They are so much fun I am thinking of having my toenails pulled out next.

This is one of the most important and one of the most uncomfortable parts of surrogacy. This document is to protect all parties involved, legally define the relationship and in the end make it possible to take the baby home. In all the research I have done on surrogacy, I have found very little information on what is normally included in a contract and what others expect out of these contracts. So, I am going to try and give you an example of what we have done, what we feel is important, and what we have had to decide that we did not expect.

This is just the initial basics that you need to think about.

- Get a lawyer who specializes in third party reproduction law. Having someone who is already familiar with the process will save you a lot of time and a lot of money. I would also suggest finding someone who charges a flat rate, because I thought this was going to be cut and dry and it turned out to be anything but. We are currently on our second draft and I am thinking there is a good possibility for a third.

- Be clear about what you want. This is not the time to commit to things that you are unable or unwilling to do.

- Prepare yourself for questions that you never wanted to think about. Trust me they are in there and you are going to be very uncomfortable at moments, but more about that later.

The nitty gritty:

  • Compensation:

    • One what dates are you going to pay your surrogate?

      • Most compensation starts at some point after the first positive blood test, and then in regular intervals thereafter.
    • How much are you paying for housekeeping and childcare?

      • Make sure that you and your surrogate have an accurate idea of how much this is really going to cost. In the event that she is on bed rest the amount agreed on needs to cover everything that she will need to take care of her children and her home. The number may look scary, but it is also vital for everyone to know what will be needed in the worst-case scenario.
      • Come up with a limit for bed rest and one for the third trimester. I have never tried to clean a toilet 9 months pregnant, but I imagine it is not an easy task.
      • Remember that this is for the health of your child. I know I was initially not in love with the idea that she would have a house cleaner and I would still be cleaning my own house. Really, this is just to give her a hand when it is not in the best interest of your child for her to be doing all that work. Of course, I had these thoughts pre-Sabrina, post-Sabrina I would hire a cleaning crew for her right now; then again, I would also hire the celebrities of her choice to carry her around.
      • Just so there are not any questions of abuse of these services, put a daily cap on what will be paid out for these services. This helps everyone be clear on what is and is not permissible.
      • As with everything else this will be a personal experience, and what is right for me will not always be right for you.
  • Insurance

    • How much life insurance are you going to purchase for your surrogate for the benefit of her family? Yes, I just said life insurance. Pregnancy and birthing are not risk free activities. While the chances are small, she is putting her life on the line. For us, there is no way that we could live with ourselves if we did not know that her husband and children would have a buffer financially if something were to happen to her. (I told you there were things that you did not want to have to think about.)
    • Health Insurance!! Do not assume anything. Get it all in writing, once they have written it down they are legally obligated to fulfill their promises. One issue that we ran into was that our insurance will not cover the child while they are out of state, this is not written anywhere in our books. Thankfully, we found this out by asking and were able to make other arrangements.
  • Death, the part that we really do not want to talk about.

    • What happens if the intended parents die? You need to identify who will take custody of the child if something were to happen.
    • What happens if the surrogate dies, but life support could be used until the baby was viable? I warned you that this got nasty. For us, we have no interest in turning Sabrina into a human incubator. Nor do we want her family to have to watch her in that situation just so we can have our child. It is a horrible thing to think about, but it needs to be thought out. This is a situation that we both feel strongly about, and also one that none of us really wants to talk about, but I know we will all sleep better knowing that it is taken care of.
  • Legal representation

    • It is important that everyone has an attorney. For some people this will make having to talk about these uncomfortable situations much easier, just let the lawyers talk to each other.
  • How much are you going to compensate for invasive and other procedures?

    • Having a huge needle in your belly is uncomfortable. Who am I kidding, it is down right painful and terrifying. There are also all other kinds of procedures that hurt. What you are compensating for is pain and suffering, and these things fall under that category. There are additional fees associated with doing these procedures. I would say that it is best to define these procedures to the best of your ability, this helps with any confusion that could lead to a strained relationship later on.
    • Along the same line it is preferable that you do some research on these procedures and decide what you may or may not want. This does not have to go in writing, but at least you will know what it means when someone starts spewing abbreviations at you.
  • Travel

    • Where can the surrogate go and when? There are laws that make it impractical for her to travel outside her state after a certain amount of time. Surrogacy contracts are not enforceable in all states, in fact most states do not even recognize them. If you have questions about this ASK.
    • If you are doing this without an agency, and with some agencies, you are going to have to work out these arrangements. It is important to define how much she and the person traveling with her will have for food and other incidentals.

The most important thing with these contracts is to be honest. This is the time to speak up. If the person decides not to work with you because of something, then it is a good guess that there would have been trouble when you are dealing with the situation. I understand the feeling of desperation and fear that comes with this relationship. You want to be the perfect person in the beginning because you just want them to like you. Think of it this way, when you first start dating someone how long does it take for you to finally be the real you? If you are like me, not long and defiantly before 9 months. It is better to know that you are not a right fit before your lives are forever entwined. The right person will come along.

For those of you that have been through this I would love to hear the things that worried, surprised, or made you laugh.


Kristin said...

Wow...that's a lot to deal with. Glad you are getting it all hashed out ahead of time.

Anonymous said...

OK, followup post request!! What was the hardest part of contracts negotiations to discuss? What made you squirm the most?

emilythehopeless said...

wow! and more wow! i'm sure you'll think of everything.. i have no advice.. just HUGS! even if it's not the most fun you've ever had, it's still got to be super exciting to be getting further into the process!! :)

Niki said...

Uggh, the contracts are tough. As you know my GC is my cousin who I've known forever, but it was still tough talking about all of those things you mentioned. I'd have to say that selective reduction was a hard topic for me ... I can't bare to think about reducing a pregnancy after trying for almost 5 years for a baby, yet at the same time I can't bare the thought of 3 micropreemies fighting for their lives in the NICU. I've been there and done that and it's not fun! SR is such an ethical/moral issue, so I found this subject to be tough. However, we all ended up easily agreeing after an uncomfortable discussion. I have to admit that I'm glad we didn't have to discuss the monetary part (my GC is doing an uncompensated surrogacy) as that seems like it would be tough.

I'm super excited for you and can't wait for you to be on to the next step! :)

Duck said...

yup selective reduction and genetic testing are hard and each and everyone has their own opinion, so that was awkward too, but, the contract phase really brings open the communication and it's a good test of the relationship! Best of luck

Soralis said...

Oh my that is quite a lot to digest just to start thinking about preparing for a baby.

I wish you all the best and good luck!

Intending To Be Parents said...

Ahhhh the contracts....good fun. But in all honesty, we were fortunate to be working with a good agency and they had a very detailed one already set up and it just needed to be tweaked in a few places. So it wasn't that bad, though the attorneys did take forever and a day to wrap things up. Luckily our GC and her DH and my DH and I were pretty much eye to eye on everything. There are some quite personal things in these types of contracts so you definitely get to know the other person really quick, but that's a good thing! But once the contracts are done they thankfully just fade off into the background and the good stuff can start!! Thinking of you guys and am very excited for you!!

MyLifeMyWorld-SharingADream said...

Ah, you got some good points and the contract is the hardest part. I would also suggest at least talking about moving...I mean house moving. Surrogates who move mid pregnancy unexpectedly can cause some unexpected conflict.

How many embryos to transfer, and termination due to medical reasons are another good one to talk about.

I dont really have a funny story and while I don't recommend it, S, B hubby and I did our own contracts using a previous contract I had from my first journey and adjusted it to our own needs. You have to be REALLY REALLY comfortable with each other and the topics at hand though to do this and be able to speak up and talk about it and negotiate with each other, if you can't, for sure do it with a lawyer.

Allison said...

Jaymee - I totally agree with everything you said. Contracts are a sticky area sometimes, but I have to say that my GS's family and mine both knew what we wanted and knew the items that were negotiable and the ones that weren't. For us, we were pretty much eye to eye on everything, so it wasn't a stressful situation for us.

I'm so happy you guys are getting closer. I love following your journey. Keep up the good work girl!!! I'm cheering you on......

Anonymous said...

Knowing that I'll be dealing with all of this at some stage I LOVE LOVE LOVED this post. Please keep it up forever, lol. I'll definitely come and take notes once it's my time!