03 Aug 2022

Many of my surrogacy cases are “altruistic journeys”.

This term is used to describe gestational surrogacy arrangements (between intended parents and surrogates) where the surrogate chooses not to be compensated for her services, as a surrogate. This incredibly selfless gift is sometimes the only way some hopeful intended parents can afford to begin their journey.

Let’s face it, surrogacy is expensive.

The price tag for any gestational surrogacy arrangement can be very high, no matter what you do. Considering:

  • IVF fees
  • psychologist fees
  • insurance premiums
  • co-pays
  • background checks
  • court costs
  • and lawyer fees (for both sides)

Quite often, altruistic journeys are familial relationships or close personal friendships. Other cases tend to include religious organizations or the military where a desire and motivation exists to help a fellow parishioner or service member.

Aside from simply saving the intended parents the cost of surrogacy fees, intended parents in altruistic surrogacy journeys might also be saved from having to satisfy medical liens that some insurance companies assert against compensated surrogacy arrangements. Although too complex a topic for this post, the drastically overly simplified explanation is that some intended parents can expect their medical insurance providers to demand about one-third of the surrogate’s base-pay (on top of all the other expenses they’re expected to pay).

Benefits of an altruistic journey

Clearly, altruistic journeys have their benefits. Without these arrangements, many great people who would make amazing parents would be deprived of that experience. But as with most things, it isn’t always as simple as calling up a local IVF physician – technically called a reproductive endocrinologist – and scheduling an appointment.

For example, thinking longer term, and supposing you’re the surrogate, do you really want your sibling or your best friend and their spouse in the delivery room with you while you’re giving birth to their baby, as many intended parents typically request?  On the other hand, are you sure you want to, or are even able, to do all of this totally gratis?  Consider that even if everything for the journey is local and no one ever has to pay for travel or hotel rooms, what about the cost for gas and parking? Or what if you have to buy maternity clothing, or pay for baby-sitters, or are asked to pump and ship breast milk?  All of this, and much, much more should be accounted for in every surrogacy contract, irrespective of the type of arrangement memorialized.

Fortunately, many states, like California, require that the parties to a surrogacy contract be represented by their own attorneys. (“Prior to executing the written assisted reproduction agreement for gestational carriers, a surrogate and the intended parent or intended parents shall be represented by separate independent licensed attorneys of their choosing.” Cal. Fam. Code § 7962(b) (emphasis added)).

In other words, surrogacy arrangements, of any type, including altruistic journeys, are known to be complicated, and even the best of friends and family must have lawyers to help them with the process.  Luckily, we are here to help.

How I can help

As with anything we post on this blog, the above is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive or representative to any case. Nothing herein should be interpreted or taken as legal advice or construed in any way as to imply or suggest the formation of an attorney-client relationship.  However, if you’d like more information on this topic, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Written by Michael Fraser