As a surrogate, being matched to an intended family is truly the quickest part of the process. Of course, we can’t rush a pregnancy, but the road to even getting pregnant is a long one full of waiting for one person or another; thank goodness I am a patient person. But for me my least favorite part of the process is without a doubt the contract.
The contract is where the gestational carrier and the intended parents must face some of the uglier possibilities of surrogacy, as well as all of the gritty details. For the surrogate, it will bullet point responsibilities that are generally common sense for the health of the carrier and the baby during a pregnancy. Mine specifies a limit of caffeine, absolutely no unheated lunch meat or soft cheeses (due to the risk of listeria) and of course, vetoes alcohol, drugs, or other unhealthy activities. Makes sense.
Along with the health issues, the contract will specify other items that aren’t so much common sense, such as a limit of when the carrier can travel out of her home state. This is to protect both the carrier and the intended parent(s) from an accidental birth in a non surrogacy friendly state which could lead to a costly and extremely inconvenient adoption process. Other items included in the contract would be the compensation schedule and amounts of various fees that will be paid to the surrogate. Items include such things as child care, bed rest, and lost wages for the surrogate in the event that those are needed. The contract will also cover how the fees would change if the carrier should become pregnant with multiples. There are some parts of the contract that no one ever wants to think about, such as the event of birth defects, miscarriage, or the need to terminate the pregnancy for any reason.
Luckily, when we had our initial phone consultation with the Intended Father, Tina covered each and every one of these points. There was truly nothing to discuss at the time of contract because we had already answered all of the questions and found that we agreed on all counts. Our contract did still take a while to get drafted, revised a couple of times, signed, then amended once to fix an omission made by one of the lawyers. Finally, we were able to execute it.
In the meantime, we got to meet the Intended Father in person at what is called the New Patient Clinic Day. My husband and I flew out to the fertility clinic in Connecticut to undergo a series of blood work and a saline ultrasound to verify once more that my uterus was clear and healthy enough to accept an embryo. Finally, the day ended with a psychological screening, first with me and my husband, then once more with the Intended Father as well.
The psychological evaluation is done to ensure that the parties are a good match and in a sound mind to make the decisions they are faced with during the surrogacy process. I found it to be a little bit redundant. It was not necessarily without value, but the Intended Father and I agreed that every single thing brought up by the social worker was something that we had already discussed and agreed upon. Once more, Tina had well prepared us prior to us even becoming an official match. I was still glad for the evaluation because it was an opportunity to meet the Intended Father in person. In my previous surrogacy, I met the IPs in person the night before the embryo transfer took place. We had conversed plenty of times, so I was very comfortable with the match, but it is still very nice to have a face and voice to go along with the profile and numerous emails.
The clinic day was a long one, but we got a lot accomplished. Once all of the lab work came back and contracts were completely finished, I could begin taking medications for prepare my body for pregnancy- which is a seriously involved scientific experiment that I will go over in my next blog.