11 Things Every Intended Parent Needs to Know About Surrogacy & the Massachusetts Parentage Act
At New England Surrogacy, we are proud to support Senate Bill SD.722, the Massachusetts Parentage Act, which is pending before the Massachusetts Legislature (the full legal name of this bill is An Act Relative to Parentage to Promote Children's Security, which is quite a mouthful so we’ll just call it the Massachusetts Parentage Act).
Here’s what every intended parent thinking about gestational surrogacy in Massachusetts needs to know about the Massachusetts Parentage Act:
Under this bill, anyone would be able to pursue surrogacy as an intended parent in Massachusetts. This includes married couples, unmarried couples and single intended parents. The gender or sexual orientation of the intended parents would not be a factor. We are thrilled to see this provision because, at New England Surrogacy, we support intended parents of any marital status, gender or sexual orientation. We’re even taking a course with the Family Equality Council’s Open Door Professional Training Program to make sure our staff understands how to work with the LGBTQ+ community with sensitivity. We’re glad to see Massachusetts formally stepping up to the plate to show support for intended LGBTQ+ parents through surrogacy.
Donated eggs, donated sperm and donated embryos could each be used for a gestational surrogacy arrangement, if this bill becomes law. The donors would not be parents of the resulting child. This is what we like to see, and it will allow Massachusetts to catch up on the progressive surrogacy practices already in place in some of the other states where we operate—New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.
The Massachusetts Parentage Act would permit and regulate both gestational surrogacy and genetic surrogacy. At New England Surrogacy, we recruit and match only gestational surrogates (gestational carriers) who will not be genetically related to the child. Genetic surrogacy, also called traditional surrogacy, refers to arrangements where the surrogate’s own eggs are used.
The proposed law would set certain minimum standards for gestational carriers. At New England Surrogacy, we go beyond these minimum standards to achieve best practices in our pre-qualification of surrogates.
The intended parents and the gestational surrogate would have their own lawyers for the contract process. The intended parents would be legally responsible for paying for both attorneys. This is the standard practice anyway at New England Surrogacy (and most other agencies, too), so this provision wouldn’t really change the expected financial responsibilities of intended parents.
The gestational carrier’s spouse would need to participate in the contract process too, in most cases. Again, this conforms to standard practice at New England Surrogacy.
The intended parents and the surrogate would need to have a medical evaluation, even if they are not going to be providing either the eggs or the sperm (scratching head moment here—wouldn’t the egg and sperm donors be the right people to test?).
The intended parents would become the legal parents of the child by “operation of law,” which is just a fancy legal way of saying “automatically.” We like it! We like it!
Immediately upon the child’s birth, the intended parents would be able to exercise all parental rights and perform all parental responsibilities. This means they get to take care of the baby in the hospital and take baby home when he/she is ready to go. Woohoo—we approve!
The intended parents would be named on the child’s birth certificate. Again, we like this!
The court proceedings related to the birth certificate would be sealed, meaning not accessible to the public. Definitely a good thing! Even better is that the court proceedings would not require the intended parents to show up in court, except in unusual circumstances. When we were writing the new (now, not-so-new) surrogacy law in New Hampshire, we specifically included a similar provision in order to save the intended parents and the surrogate from the burden of having to attend a court hearing that was not clearly necessary. For intended parents coming from out-of-state, this could be a huge burden. Not to mention that it can be a hassle for a very-pregnant surrogate to get herself over to the courthouse. It’s nice to see that Massachusetts is looking to follow our example in New Hampshire.
If passed and signed by the Governor, the new law would become effective 60 days later. This is great because it means that any existing Massachusetts surrogacy arrangements could benefit from changes in the law. More good news for our Massachusetts intended parents and surrogates.
This is a good bill that would better protect intended parents pursuing gestational surrogacy in Massachusetts. And surrogates would also be better protected than they are under current law. At New England Surrogacy, we recognize that everyone benefits from these additional levels of legal protections.
A big thank you to all of the bill’s sponsors, especially Senator Bruce Tarr, for pursuing a streamlined gestational surrogacy process in Massachusetts! We look forward to this bill becoming a law.