The Sherman Law Group provides legal guidance for the many issues that arise in fertility and surrogacy matters, including:
- dealing with agencies to define the scope of your relationship with the surrogate
- engaging private surrogacy arrangements
If you are a potential surrogate seeking to help another family, or you are looking at a surrogacy arrangement to start or grow your family, we provide comprehensive, knowledgeable and highly confidential legal services.
We are proud to assist clients with the various issues related to surrogacy:
- Traditional surrogacy
- Gestational surrogacy
- Anonymous surrogacy
- Semi-anonymous surrogacy
- Representation in legal proceedings to establish parental rights
- Sperm donation
- Egg donation
- Visitation rights
- Drafting surrogacy contracts for the intended parents and the surrogate
- Parenting plans
- Screening of potential surrogates
- Screening of intended parents
- Rights to future contact with intended parents, child or surrogate
- Background checks
- Surrogacy consulting
Traditional surrogacy describes the process in which a woman is artificially inseminated with sperm. The surrogate gives-up the baby at birth. She also gives up her parental rights in favor of the intended parents. The surrogate is genetically related to the child. Oftentimes a traditional surrogate is a close friend or relative of the parents. It takes quite a special woman to be a traditional surrogate.
“Gestational surrogacy" refers to a scientific process in which another woman (the "gestational surrogate") undergoes an embryo transfer. She then carries the pregnancy to term. Typically, the intended parents are very involved with the many aspects of the pregnancy, present at the birth, and immediately assume parenting responsibilities.
Anonymous surrogacy is when the surrogate is unknown to the parents. It is a form of gestational surrogacy. Anonymous surrogates are usually identified thorough agencies with a specialization in recruiting women to act as surrogates. Usually, the medical reason a gestational carrier is utilized is because a woman who has normally functioning ovaries lacks a uterus.
Commercial surrogacy involves a woman who receives financial compensation – in addition to all the expenses associated with pregnancy – for carrying the baby of another couple. Gathering statistics on commercial surrogates is difficult. That is likely because reported numbers of IVF cycles at assisted reproductive clinics do not necessarily correlate with successful pregnancies; or, possibly, because such surrogacies are considered controversial. Each state has its own laws, rules and regulations regarding commercial surrogacy.
Insist upon a thorough screening process and strict standards to ensure:
- personal health
- comprehensive family medical history
- physical characteristics
- highest chances for artificial insemination in the future.
You should only work with the highest quality egg donors and agencies. Here are some procedures egg donor agencies should follow:
- egg donors are contacted regularly to ensure availability
- that their information is up-to-date
- databases should be continuously updated
- all donors are personally interviewed
- medical and legal issues are fully explained to all potential donors
Egg Donors Make a Physical Commitment
Being an egg donor requires a physical commitment that some women might find onerous. Donors must prepare themselves physically. Preparation includes weeks of medication.
Birth control is necessary in order to synch her cycle up with the surrogate's. Pregnancy will only occur is if the surrogate's body is prepared to accept the eggs immediately. The donor is required to ingest hormones to stimulate egg development. These hormones are self-injected. Hormones often have mild side-effects. The procedure itself is performed in a physician's office and takes less than an hour.
Screening Surrogates (What to Look For)
Finding the right surrogate is vital. Matching an intended parent with a surrogate does not have to be an arduous, difficult task. But it is important to do a proper analysis. Here are some issues that should be addressed to find a great surrogate:
- the potential surrogate's medical records
- a thorough background check on the surrogate
- psychological exam of the surrogate
- a comprehensive interview
Intended Parents & the Surrogate (Is There a Good Match?)
The intended parents and the surrogate must be interviewed to determine if their goals are aligned. There should be an extensive evaluation performed on the intended parents, taking into account many of the same factors that are done when reviewing the surrogate, including goals, ideals and backgrounds.
Who Qualifies to be a Surrogate?
Surrogates must meet varying qualifications depending on the agency or intended parents. Qualifications, of course, differ. Here are some qualifications that we have seen:
- Be a parent: the surrogate must be a parent herself who has enjoyed pregnancy and have given birth
- Age: age 21-45
- Healthy with regular menstrual cycles
- Not planning on having other children
- No drug use
- Psychologically healthy
- No family history of mental disease
- Be married or in a long-term committed relationship
- Reliable transportation
- Weight can be an issues: BMI must also be below 32
- Birth control can be an issue: no Depo shots or IUD or if you currently have one, it must be removed when you register.
- No felonies
- High level of educational attainment
- Have the support from her family and others close to her for her decision to be a carrier
- Altruistically motivated
- No gastric surgery for the purpose of weight reduction
- No welfare or government assistance
- No history of Syphilis
- No history of toxemia
- No history of pre-eclampsia
- No history of pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Have not lived in Europe for more than 5 years
- Have not lived in the UK for more than 3 months before 1996
How Are Surrogates Compensated?
Surrogates generally receive base compensation and certain other expenses, including:
- all medical expenses
- a monthly amount for incidental expenses, such as food, gas and parking for medical appointments
- small expenses incurred because of pregnancy
- money for housekeeping expenses
- funds for maternity clothing
Infertility In Men: Tests
To help diagnose infertility in men various procedures are employed. These tests include:
- Medical History
- Physical examination
- Semen analysis
- Blood tests
- Genetic tests
- Lab testing
Infertility in Women: Tests
To treat infertility in women a doctor can utilize various tests, including:
- Medical history
- Menstrual history
- Physical examination
- Blood tests
- Tests to evaluate ovulation
- Hormone levels
- Tests to evaluate the uterus and fallopian tubes
- Basal body temperature
- Pelvic ultrasound
- Genetic tests
Is Weight a Factor with Infertility?
According to numerous studies, a person's weight does effect fertility. In fact, 13% of all infertility cases are because someone weighs too much or too little. A healthy body weight should increase your chance of fertility.
Celebrities That Have Used Surrogates
Surrogacy has become so popular that many celebrities, both inside and outside Hollywood, have taken advantage of it. Here is a list of just some celebs who have used surrogates:
- Jimmy Fallon
- Kelsey Grammer
- Elton John
- Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban
- Robert De Niro
- Neil Patrick Harris
- Ricky Martin
- Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick
- Angela Bassett
- Katey Sagal
- Joan Lunden
A Common Question About Sperm Donation
Q: I want to have a child by donor insemination. Should I use someone I know as my donor or not?
A: There are three types of donors to choose from:
- known donors (men who you know – often friends or loved-ones)
- identity release donors (men who donate to sperm banks, and whose sperm you purchase anonymously; he has agreed that his identity can be released when the child reaches a certain age)
- anonymous donors (anonymous donors are men who donate to sperm banks)
We strongly suggest you consult with an attorney who is experienced with sperm donation. That attorney can provide valuable assistance to help ensure you make the best choice for your situation.
A Good Sperm Bank Should Have Certain Criteria for Donors
A legitimate sperm bank should have certain qualifications. These can include:
- age requirement
- residency requirement
- an acceptable medical history
- high quality semen samples
- ability to pass a rigorous psychological test
- ability to pass genetic screenings
- provide a urine sample
- provide a blood sample
- provide a four generation medical history
- willingness to participate in an identity disclosure program
- submit an adult photo
Are Sperm and Egg Donors Checked for Diseases?
A proper examination of potential sperm and egg donors should certainly include a background check for diseases and maladies. The screening process should be thorough. Here are some issues that are commonly screened for:
- Gaucher disease
- Fanconi anemia
- Niemann-Pick disease
- Canavan disease
- blood in stool
Sperm & Egg Donors by Ethnicity
Some intended parents are looking for donors who are from a specific ethnicity. We have seen very specific wishes regarding ethnic groups. Here are some of the ethnic groups we have seen solicited for donors:
- Persian / Iranian
What is Egg Freezing?
A technique for fertility preservation, "flash freezing" allows the delicate eggs to be frozen quickly to enable them to be preserved for long periods of time. Known as cryo vitification of oocytes (eggs), this procedure (although considered experimental) is becoming a popular option. Here are some questions that clients should ask the medical professionals before choosing an egg freezing program:
- What is the care that will be provided?
- How much experience do the professionals have?
- How is the monitoring done?
- Are there storage fees for the frozen eggs?
How Much Are Egg Donors Paid?
Egg donor compensation does not, of course, have to be made public so the real amounts of payment are impossible to discern. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has stated that donor compensation more than $10,000 is unethical. Many agencies, therefore, will adhere to the ASRM guidelines. Generally, compensation for egg donors runs anywhere between $4,000 and $10,000. Of course, donors can be paid much more by certain places. Payment can be dependent upon various factors including geographic location, number of previous donations and ethnic group selectivity.
Can A Woman Breast Feed the Baby if She Used a Surrogate?
Many people don't know that in many cases a woman can breastfeed without actually giving birth. This successful breastfeeding relationship is possible through different means, including the Newman-Goldfarb protocols. Dr. Newman is a recognized expert on breastfeeding and his book, "The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers," is an informative work that answers many breastfeeding-related questions.
Reproductive Endocrinologists: Who They Are & What They Do
Reproductive endocrinologists are doctors who treat fertility issues. Reproductive endocrinology is a subspecialty of Obstetrics and Gynecology; it is a combination of the two disciplines. As doctors, reproductive endocrinologists have completed all of the requirements, both educationally and with regard to training, to practice obstetrics and gynecology (Ob/Gyn). Here are some issues that they treat:
- A congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Congenital uterine anomalies
- Tubal factor infertility
- Hypothalamic pituitary dysfunction
- Male factor infertility
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Fertilization occurs inside a woman's body. The IVF process involves manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. It is a medical technique that helps a woman become pregnant. IVF has been utilized since the 1970's and is often used when other fertility techniques have failed.
If a couple can produce embryos through IVF, but the woman was cannot carry the pregnancy, IVF might be a solution.
The IVF Procedure
We get many questions regarding the IVF procedure. Here is a simple summary of what it entails:
- Hormones are injected to stimulate the production of multiple eggs
- A test is administered to determine readiness for egg retrieval
- Before retrieval, injections of medication ripens the developing eggs and starts the process of ovulation
- The eggs must be retrieved just before they emerge from the follicles in the ovaries
- If the eggs are taken out too early or too late, they won't develop normally
- A blood test or an ultrasound may be used to ensure the eggs are at the right stage of development before starting retrieving
- Usually pain medication is given
Surrogacy Lawyers & Consultants
The Sherman Law Group offers a wide suite of services for individuals or couples who wish to pursue embryo donation, ovum or egg donation, sperm donation, or surrogacy. We represent surrogates, semen donors, egg donors, and embryo donors.
As many as one in five couples have fertility issues. And many utilize the latest assisted reproductive technologies in an effort to realize their dreams of having a child. Reproductive technologies have advanced so far that there are now many possible ways to have a child – ways that in the past were simply unimaginable.
At the Sherman Law Group, we can help you navigate the complex, sometimes cutting-edge legal matters associated with assisted reproduction. As a family law attorneys, or fertility lawyers, we represent prospective parents, donors, and surrogates.
We understand the wonderful, intense desire to have children and the emotional rollercoaster that fertility struggles can induce. Our goal is to provide you with warm, caring and knowledgeable service along with the strongest possible legal protections and guidance to give you the greatest peace of mind.
The surrogate attorneys and fertility consultants at the Sherman Law Group are uniquely qualified to help you. Attorney Valerie W. Sherman has years of experience from serving as a Magistrate Judge and as an Assistant County Attorney. Attorney William H. Sherman's service as a Senior Assistant County Attorney and as an Assistant Attorney General means that he has addressed the issues you are facing.
If you are an intended parent, surrogate, egg donor, semen donor, or embryo donor seeking warm and professional family formation lawyers or assisted reproduction attorney, we invite you to contact us at 678-215-4106 or email the Sherman Law Group today for a free initial consultation. And with offices in Roswell, GA and Cumming, GA we are very conveniently situated for anyone in the Atlanta Metro Area, North Fulton County and North Georgia.