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Compassionate Surrogacy Adoption Attorney Represents LGBTQ+ and Other Couples Unable to Have Children with the Adoption Process in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area

Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction where intended parents work with a gestational surrogate who will carry and care for their baby(ies) until birth. Intended parents use surrogacy to start or grow their families when they can't do so on their own.

Surrogacy involves a woman agreeing to carry a baby for someone else. After the baby is born, the birth mother gives custody and guardianship to the intended parent or parents. Surrogacy has complex legal and medical steps that must be met.

Today, there are more and more reproductive options available for LGBTQ+ individuals or spouses who are trying to grow their families. One such advancement is surrogacy, or a method of assisted reproduction where the intended parents work closely with a gestational surrogate, who will carry the couple's child (or children) until birth.

This option has become popular amongst gay men that wish to have a biological connection to their children, as well as for lesbians or lesbian couples that are unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. However, surrogacy is a complex legal issue, and it’s important to discuss any and all issues that may arise with a skilled and compassionate surrogacy attorney, such as those at Michele Zavos Law.

During the surrogacy process, pregnancy is typically achieved using an egg or sperm donor and a gestational carrier, who will carry the child until birth. This is often achieved through the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), and is a similar process for any intended parent, whether heterosexual or LGBTQ+. However, there are several important decisions same-sex couples will need to consider before initiating the process, including:

Determining who the child will be genetically related to: When straight intended parents determine to use surrogacy to grow their family, in most instances, the genetic material from both parents will be used to create an embryo. Same-sex intended parents, however; must determine who’s egg or sperm will be used in the process. Some intended fathers will opt to use sperm from both partners and fertilize multiple eggs for implantation, which allows either or both intended fathers to be the biological father of the child(ren).

Selecting a donor: before deciding to proceed with surrogacy, it’s important for LGBTQ+ couples to determine whether they wish to work with an anonymous or identified donor. While it may be more convenient to work with an anonymous donor through an agency, many LGBTQ+ couples are choosing to work with an identified donor for a number of reasons - from having a wider selection of donors available, to having the ability to select a close relative of one partner, giving both intended parents a biological link to the child(ren).

Once the intended parents have weighed these incredibly important decisions, as well as the legal ramifications that come with surrogacy agreements, LGBTQ+ couples should be able to proceed with the surrogacy process as any other intended parent would.

If parents choose to have a surrogacy agreement, both the intended parents and the surrogate must meet certain requirements under D.C. law, including:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Complete a joint consultation with a mental health professional
  • The surrogate must have given birth to at least one live child
  • The surrogate must also undergo a medical and mental health evaluation

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Any surrogacy agreement must be executed by the intended parents and surrogate prior to fertilization. The agreement must spell out how the intended parents will establish their parental rights, as well as what compensation or reimbursement of expenses the surrogate is entitled to from the intended parents.

Intended parents do not need to go through adoption to ensure they both are the legal parents of the child. Instead, parents may obtain a pre-birth order that becomes effective at the birth of the child, which declares both the intended parents the legal parents of the child regardless of genetic relationship. However, where the surrogate mother donates her own egg, there is a 48-hour waiting period before a pre-birth order establishing parentage can go into effect.

How Does Surrogacy Work in Maryland?

In Maryland, there are no express surrogacy laws on the books. However, there have been cases in Maryland that have implicitly approved the use of surrogacy agreements. In addition, the state attorney general’s office has in the past spoken disapprovingly of the use of compensated surrogacy arrangements. Maryland parents contemplating surrogacy should consult with an experienced surrogacy attorney, especially if they choose to have a written agreement with their surrogate.

Any agreement should be developed with both the intended parents and the surrogate represented by separate legal counsel. The agreement should also address matters such as:

  • The respective rights and responsibilities of the parties
  • The potential risks to each party, and what actions will be taken if any risks come to fruition
  • Financial details, including compensation or reimbursement of the surrogate’s medical and other expenses
  • The surrogate mother’s post-birth rights to contact with the child or children

Intended parents of a child born through surrogacy may be able to obtain a pre-birth order from the Maryland courts that upon the child’s birth will declare them the legal parents of the child, regardless of each parent’s genetic relationship to the child. Otherwise, an intended parent with no genetic relationship to the child will need to go through the adoption process to establish parental rights.

Let a Surrogacy Adoption Attorney from Michele Zavos Law Guide You Through the Process of Adding to Your Family

If you and your spouse or partner are considering surrogacy to have a child, it is important that you understand your legal options and obligations to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. The surrogacy process can be complex, especially in states like Maryland that do not have statutes formally establishing the legality of surrogacy arrangements. Attorney Michele Zavos can help you and your family.


Can I or my family compensate a birth mother under a surrogacy arrangement?
While compensated surrogacy arrangements have been expressly legalized under the laws of the District of Columbia, the legality of such arrangements in Maryland is less clear. Maryland does not have any express surrogacy laws on the books, although the courts have indirectly approved surrogacy arrangements. Conversely, the Maryland Attorney General’s office has previously opined that a contract paying a fee to a birth mother may be invalid and unenforceable. For that reason, it is important to speak to an experienced surrogacy adoption attorney to ensure that your rights and interests are protected in a surrogacy arrangement.
Can I establish parentage prior to my child’s birth through a surrogacy, or will I need to obtain an adoption?
Intended parents in Maryland and the District of Columbia can petition the court to obtain a pre-birth order that legally names both intended parents as the legal parents of the child from birth, without the need to go through the adoption process. However, if working with a birth mother for surrogacy in another state that does not offer pre-birth orders, upon returning to Maryland a non-genetic parent may need to obtain an adoption.

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