While the birth of a child is a wonderful and emotional time, it’s also a legal event. Births need to be recorded and documented in virtually all countries. In the United States, a birth certificate will ensure that the child gets all the benefits of being a citizen.
In California, laws protect and identify the intended parents as the sole parents. The Supreme Court of the state of California has upheld this decision, making the state surrogacy friendly. Other states may have different regulations and laws.
In the United States, all children born within the country get citizenship of the United States. The birth will therefore need to be reported to the Office of Vital Records. From there, where the child is born will have a huge impact on what happens next.
When you first decide on a gestational surrogacy, the surrogate mother will need to be medically cleared. Once the parents have agreed to the surrogate, both the parents and the surrogate will be represented by attorneys, who will mediate an agreement and contract between the two parties. This is a good time to make sure everyone understands how the birth will be registered to ensure that both the surrogate and the parents understand what will happen. Often, this information is included in the legal contract drawn up by both parties.
Many parents also seek to have a pre-birth order signed sometime in the second or third trimester. A pre-birth order establishes the intended parents as the true parents of the baby. Many states, including California, recognize this type of pre-birth parental order. Talk to your attorney about having a pre-order signed.
Depending on where the birth happens, you may need to adjust birth certificate forms so they have the names of the legal parents instead of the surrogate mother. Doing so will help protect parental rights and allow all parents to adjust to the new addition to the family.
Before birth, you’ll want to check your state laws about the procedure surrounding legal parents, surrogacy and birth certificates as well as other legal paperwork. If you’ve decided to have the baby in a hospital, the hospital administration can also help. Contact the hospital and doctor where the baby will be born so that you can discuss the process.
It’s important to remember that gestational surrogacy is a frequent choice for parents today, and as a result, doctors, administrators and states are used to dealing with this situation. If you have any doubts, consult with your attorney, who can advise you on the right procedure in the state where the baby will be born. If you are working with Western Fertility Institute, simply contact us for support at any time if you have concerns. We can direct you to the right resources.
At the Time of Birth
When it’s time for the surrogate to give birth, you will have already discussed birth plans and decided on one. If things go according to plan, the surrogate and the parents will both go to the hospital or stay home for a home birth. Every party will know what to expect, and the doctor, midwife or hospital will be prepared.
If the baby decides to change plans a little, the surrogate may be taken to the nearest hospital, possibly one where the parents have not had a chance to speak with administrators. As long as the hospital or home is in the same state, the same laws will apply.
The midwife, doctor or hospital will fill out the paperwork, and this paperwork will need to be signed. If there is a pre-birth order in place, the intended parents’ names will appear on all the paperwork. Otherwise, the parents will get a copy of the paperwork with the surrogate’s name and will contact their attorney to make the changes.
Following up After Birth
In many states, including California, if you’ve signed a pre-birth order, you’ll be listed on birth certificates and your state’s Office of Vital Records as the child’s parents.
If your state does not recognize pre-birth orders, it may mandate a post-birth order. In this situation, the Office of Vital Records and the birth certificate will initially have the surrogate’s name on the certificate. You’ll secure a post-birth order to correct the parentage. Your attorney can assist with this. In some states, you may need a court appearance shortly after the birth for updating the birth records to name the baby’s parents.
Are You Ready for Parenthood?
If you are ready to be a parent and you’re considering surrogacy, or if you’ve faced challenges with fertility, Western Fertility Institute is here to help. Our team of physicians, nurses, compliance officers, coordinators and other professionals have only one mission: to help you on your journey with a healthy, happy pregnancy.
Since our team includes diverse professionals, we’ll be able to coordinate your journey every step of the way. Whether you have questions about fertility or want someone guiding you until you can hold your baby in your arms, we’ll work to find solutions to bring you joy. We can help coordinate egg freezing, embryo freezing, IVF, FET, IUI and more. We offer plenty of options and a start-to-finish approach so that you can have a safe and welcoming team to help you achieve your dreams of parenthood.
Western Fertility Institute routinely works with heterosexual couples, same-sex parents, international couples, single mothers and other parents, so we understand the different needs of various families and individuals. We’ve been honored to be part of the parenthood story for many parents, and we look forward to being part of your journey to parenthood as well.
If you have been facing challenges with conceiving, schedule an appointment with a New Patient Liaison at Western Fertility Institute. You can fill out patient forms ahead of your visit so that our team has all the information we need to offer you the best personalized advice and information. You can also bring your questions to your first visit so that we can address your concerns.
This content was medically reviewed by the Western Fertility Institute medical team on November 4, 2019.