We are having problems with our surrogate and/or agency. How do you help us?
The benefit of having an attorney independent of any agency or escrow company working on the match is that the attorney remains faithful to his or her client to the exclusion of anything else. There is no conflict of interest. As your attorney we are available to call the clinic, opposing counsel, the agency and/or escrow management company to resolve any problem you are having.
Fortunately, we intervene infrequently because the clinics, agencies and escrow companies we deal with are transparent, ethical and have been around for a long time. But when problems occur, we are on the phone.
What is our contact with you after we have signed the agreement?
We are always available to you during your surrogacy or egg donation journey. When an agency is involved, they will let us know how the pregnancy is progressing. If not, you will need to inform us of any occurrence. We need to have a confirmation of a fetal heartbeat and the projected date of the baby’s arrival so we can prepare for the eventual birth.
In the third trimester, we get busy again. Now we have a new party to bring into the mix — the hospital. We want the hospital to understand and appreciate the Florida surrogacy statutes and to recognize you as the parents, not your surrogate. Immediately upon birth, the hospital will place a security band around your baby’s ankle and place a matching band around your wrist. The security band is the only way to get in or out of the nursery or NICU, or for the babies to be discharged from the hospital to you. We want to make sure you get the banded and not the surrogate. Some hospitals, however, will band the surrogate because of the manner they bill expenses. When that occurs, we arrange that her band does not permit access to the child absent consent from you. We will also point out to the Hospital that as the Parents of the newborn, you are responsible for the post-birth baby expenses. To that end, you will need to bring insurance information so your health insurance company can be billed.
What is the process for obtaining a birth certificate?
The process for obtaining a birth certificate is generally the same regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation, marital status, nationality or place of residence. We will go to court where we provide the Judge with documentation of the surrogacy arrangement: a copy of the signed surrogacy agreement and an affidavit from your IVF clinic demonstrating that the child was born from your embryos. Your doctor will confirm that the embryos transferred into the surrogate belong to you (instead of verifying genetics). We receive from the court and order to confirm your parentage and to seal the court records from public scrutiny. Finally, we deliver the court order to the Department of Vital Statistics and a week later a birth certificate will be delivered to our offices and then mailed to you.
International and same sex couples may require additional steps. Two points are more important than others, however. Same sex couple probably will need a second parent adoption because the child will only be the genetic child of one member of the couple. To complete the family so that no one can question its authenticity or the intentions of the parents, we do a second parent adoption. Sometimes we can obtain second parent adoption on the same day as we get the order for the birth certificate. Other judges may take up to 90 days, which is the outside time limit. The adoption statute says you are suppose to get a post-birth home study in the 90 day interval. With surrogacy, some of the judges are willing to waive the time period, but you just don’t know until you get to the judge. It is a very organic process. If the judge feels you are the expert, then he or she takes what you are doing at face value.
As it relates to international couples, the timeline is different than for domestic couples because they will want to return to their home countries. We have some strategies to shorten the timeline to not only get the birth certificate faster but also obtain a passport in a timely manner. Domestic couples are not worried about a passport. That additional steps needs to be factored into the timeframe when the IPs come back to Florida for the birth.
If we have a good indication of when the birth will take place and if the couple can go to Miami, we can arrange a meeting with the passport facilitation offices and they can walk out with a passport the same day. But we need advance notice. Since some people don’t want to bring their child into a public space. We know a number of passport expediting services that can move a passport application through Washington, D.C. in as little as three days total.
For international couples we have attorneys in their respective countries that we have worked with in the past and understand how to best obtain citizenship for their babies in their home countries.
We always strive for a routine outcome. Our philosophy is the same for single and same sex parents, which is martialing the evidence. When I see the same judges, I want them to feel comfortable that nothing is out of the ordinary and that I am not trying to pull one over on them.