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The surrogacy process can feel a little overwhelming at times. There are so many ins and outs that you might have some questions, whether you’re an intended parent or a surrogate. For instance, it’s pretty common to ask if the surrogate mother has rights to the baby? If not, then what type of rights does she have? 

In this post, we’ll answer all your questions and tell you everything you need to know. We’ll go over the surrogate’s parental rights, including keeping the baby, legal responsibilities, and even visitation rights. 

Do Surrogate Mothers Have Parental Rights?

No, they don’t. A properly managed surrogacy process, especially under the guidance of a surrogacy agency, will legally ensure that the intended parents have all parental rights to the baby. 

As a matter of fact, this is why some agencies prefer to use the terms surrogate, surrogate carrier, or gestational carrier rather than surrogate mother. That way, there’s less confusion for the intended parents. At the end of the day, the surrogate will not be the child’s mother – that incredible privilege will always belong to the intended parents.

This is especially true in cases of gestational surrogacy instead of traditional surrogacy, which has become the dominant form of surrogacy in the country. With gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is not genetically related to the child, meaning that they have no legal parental rights. 

Does The Surrogate Mother Have The Right To Keep The Baby? 

No, most definitely not! The surrogate does not have parental rights and she does not have the right to keep the baby. 

This is a common question, especially for intended parents. It’s basically a worst-case scenario: the surrogate might have a change of heart and then try to take the child. But you can rest assured knowing that this will not happen. Luckily, there are several reasons for that. 

First of all, as we mentioned above, gestational surrogates are not related to the child, so they have no legal rights to the child. Second of all, surrogacy agencies will screen all surrogates, making sure that they meet all the requirements and are emotionally and psychologically capable of handling the surrogacy journey. 

Finally, a parentage order is a major step in the surrogacy process. This is a legal document filed in state court that establishes who the legal parents are. These can be pre-birth or post-birth parentage orders, meaning that they can establish the legal parents before or after the child’s birth. In other words, they make the intended parents the legal parents beyond all shadow of a doubt. 

Obviously, pre-birth orders are ideal, since they preclude the possibility of the surrogate even trying to file a legal claim. They’re most common in surrogacy-friendly states, including California, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, Washington, and Florida

Do Surrogate Mothers Have Visitation Rights? 

This depends entirely on the arrangement between the intended parents and the surrogate. Since the surrogate does not have any parental rights to the child, she does not have to recieve visitation rights. 

If the intended parents want to allow visitation rights, that is ultimately up to them. However, most people avoid this type of arrangement – it can cause unnecessary complications and confusion for everyone, including the child. 

The surrogacy contract should always cover these types of important details. This is an important document since it establishes the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of all parties, including the surrogate. Experienced surrogacy attorneys should draft this contract to address all of these contingencies before the surrogacy journey begins. 

What Are The Surrogate’s Legal Rights?

Although the surrogate has no parental rights, she still has certain legal rights that are important throughout the surrogacy journey. At the end of the day, she’s the one who’s pregnant and that always carries a certain amount of responsibility and risk. 

A surrogate has the right to:

  • Give input on doctors or medical professionals she wants to see. 
  • Contribute to her birth plan, including using a doula or midwife. 
  • Choose where she wants to give birth. 
  • Make medical decisions that affect her life and health. 
  • Establish communication guidelines before, during, and after the pregnancy. 
  • Choose her own legal counsel, which must be separate from the intended parents. 

 

Additionally, all contingencies related to pregnancy termination must be extensively covered in the surrogacy contract. This is why it’s so important to have a surrogacy agency and family attorney – they can deal with the complex issues that may come up. Everyone’s needs and rights should always be protected. 

Finally, if a surrogate becomes pregnant with twins or triplets, her right to use selective termination must also be covered in the surrogacy contract before the process begins.     

What Are The Surrogate’s Responsibilities? 

In addition to the surrogate’s legal rights, she’ll also have certain ironclad responsibilities and expectations. These include: 

  • Completing the screening process so she can be matched with intended parents
  • Abiding by everything set forth in the surrogacy contract. 
  • Communicating with the agency and/or intended parents based on previously established guidelines. 
  • Attending all medical appointments, including counseling if necessary. 
  • Maintaining a safe environment at home. 
  • Staying healthy and refraining from behavior that might disqualify her as a surrogate.
  • Notifying the agency and intended parents when she has gone into labor. 
  • Keeping all receipts and records so that expenses can be reimbursed.   

 

It’s absolutely vital that the surrogate always follows these responsibilities. Ultimately, this is a job that she’s being paid for, so she must meet her professional expectations. 

The best way to develop a strong professional relationship between surrogate and intended parents is to go through a surrogacy agency. They’ll guide everyone through the surrogacy journey while making sure that everything is properly taken care of. 

If you’re trying to find the best surrogacy agency, then Surrogacy By Faith is a perfect choice! We’re based in Southern California, but we work with people from all over the country. Additionally, we see surrogacy as more than just a job: it’s a mission that we hold sacred. We work extra hard to ensure that each match between surrogates and intended parents is absolutely perfect and that everyone’s interests and rights are always 100% protected. 

If you want to get started, don’t wait another day! Fill out our inquiry forms for Intended Parents or Surrogates and be a part of the surrogacy miracle.