In the past, I have blogged extensively about the legal, medical and value-based decisions made in the case of the unmarried California woman who gave birth to octuplets, while having six other children at home. Enough!
I just returned from an ABA conference in Baltimore regarding the legal aspects of assisted reproductive technology (ART). It was an interesting conference, as I got to meet other lawyers who practice in this area of law. We talked extensively about the issues surrounding egg, sperm and embryo donation. I learned a good deal about the pitfalls that can occur and the many different ways of approaching the problem of infertility, depending upon medical, legal, financial and geographical issues.
The most important fact that I can share is the importance of having experienced people involved in the transaction—both legally and medically. This area of practice keeps growing and becoming more and more sophisticated. There are many people who hold themselves out as experienced, but may not have the level of experience that leads to deep knowledge of the complications that arise.
If you are looking for assistance, do your homework. Make sure your medical and legal team practice frequently in this area. Interview several potential people before making any decisions. Contact medical practices associated with the teaching hospitals in the area: Temple, University of Pennsylvania/Pennsylvania Hospital, Cooper—to name a few.
While most surrogacy/infertility agencies are legitimate, you should choose an agency with a long and successful history. Use Google or other web-sites to investigate. Several useful sites are: http://www.sart.org/; http://www.asrm.org/;http://www.cdc.gov/ART/. A case in which I represented a surrogate mother and the Estate of her dead child established a legal precedent that agencies are responsible to intended parents and surrogates for negligence in some specific sets of circumstances. Huddleston v. Infertility Center of America , 700 A 2d. 453 (Pa. Super., 1997) provides a guide as to what can go wrong. While such circumstances do not occur regularly, you do not want any problems with your family. Surrogacy or other similar agreements are very complicated. I am happy to provide a consultation to educate you as to the issues will face in these circumstances.