Given advances in science, there are many more children being born today by non-traditional means, including surrogacy, sperm donation and egg donation.
Surrogacy is when a woman carries a baby for someone else. There are two types of surrogacy: Traditional surrogacy is where the surrogate’s egg is fertilized with donor sperm and gestational surrogacy is where both the sperm and the egg come from other people so the surrogate is not biologically related to the baby. The identity of the people donating the sperm and egg could be known or unknown (anonymous).
So, there can be up to five people involved, namely the intended mother(s), the intended father(s), a surrogate (also known as a gestational carrier), a sperm donor and an egg donor. While the most important thing for everyone involved is to ensure a healthy baby, the legal issues need to be addressed, too.
For instance, how the surrogate will be compensated needs to be clear. There are laws in Canada that make it illegal to pay someone else to have a baby. A surrogate, however, can be reimbursed for expenses she incurs as a result of carrying the baby. Another issue that arises is what the future relationship will be between the baby, the surrogate, her own spouse and any other children she may have. A third example of a legal issue that needs to be addressed is who will make medical decisions during the pregnancy and at the birth regarding the baby.
Surrogacy or Gestational Carriage Contracts make sure that everyone involved clearly know their rights and obligations not just before conception, but during and following the pregnancy. The contract also ensures proper legal recognition of the child and his or her parents following the birth. Once the baby is born, a Court Application is needed to make sure the baby’s parents are properly registered with the government. Seeking legal advice from a lawyer familiar with expertise in these issues is the key.