Surrogate Mother Law and Legal Definition

A surrogate mother is a woman who carries and gives birth to the child of another woman, who is usually infertile, by way of a pre-arranged legal contract. There are several types of surrogacy:

1. Gestational Surrogacy (In Vitro Fertilization Surrogacy)

In the gestational surrogacy program, the client family creates embryos via the In Vitro Fertilization process. The client husband’s sperm and the client wife’s eggs are utilized to create these embryos. These embryos are implanted into the uterus of the surrogate mother. The surrogate mother, who is not genetically related to the child in any way, carries the child on behalf of the client family. The client family, with the assistance of an attorney, petitions the court to issue the birth certificate reflecting the client couple as legal parents.

2. Gestational Surrogacy using an Egg Donor This program is identical to the gestational surrogacy program. However, another woman donates the eggs used in In Vitro Fertilization.

3. Traditional Surrogacy (Artificial Insemination Surrogacy) The surrogate mother is inseminated in the physician's office with the sperm of the client husband. This child is biologically linked to the client husband and the surrogate mother. The client family completes a step-parent adoption process and the client wife becomes the legal mother of the baby.

Surrogacy arrangements have a variety of accompanying legal issues and are not legally permitted or recognized in all states. Where it is legal, it is important to establish the rights and responsibilities of parentage as soon as is practically possible to prevent legal controversies and furnish children with a measure of stability. For example, a pre-conception contract by which a woman agrees to serve as a surrogate mother for a married couple for a fee was found by one court to violate public policy and be unenforceable. However, the court did grant custody to the biological father after applying the "best interests of the child" test. The biological mother, who was the surrogate, was allowed visitation rights. Local law should be consulted for applicability in your area.