Contracts for surrogacy are crucial! However, when you initially receive your contract, it can be very overwhelming. Thankfully, you’ll have your own legal counsel—read about why that’s important here—so you should definitely go over every page of the contract verbatim with them before signing off.
1. Be wary of caps.I was fortunate enough to not be bit in the ass after agreeing to caps during my first surrogacy journey. Agencies, lawyers, and/or intended parents might try and convince you that your only option is to agree to capped bed rest, wages, post-partum recovery, etc. You might be made to feel guilty for resisting caps or you might feel a sense of obligation to agree because of how costly surrogacy is for IPs.
However, caps can leave your vulnerable. Pregnancies are unpredictable. Surrogates who have done SETs and are only carrying one baby have ended up on weeks or months of bed rest. I was fortunate enough to have had a relatively uneventful pregnancy but some surrogates are not as fortunate.
Think very long and hard about whether you’re willing to accept a cap of any kind. Some alternatives I’ve seen surrogates present are:
- A max weekly dollar amount, rather than an overall dollar cap or cap on the length of time you’ll be reimbursed.
- A cap that equals out to 48 weeks of full reimbursement for lost wages and necessary child care/housekeeping (or whatever is applicable in your situation)
- That intended parents can request a second opinion from a doctor independent of the current situation
Related Post: How to Prepare for a C-Section Delivery
2. Protect yourself and your family.This might seem obvious, but don’t forget about yourself and your family. Make sure you have a good life insurance policy (IPs usually purchase an additional one for you) because death is a risk you’re facing as a surrogate.
For example, if your income is critical to your family’s well being then you can absolutely not afford to “skimp” on wage reimbursements (also see previous point about caps).
Make sure you have an independent lawyer (separate from and not affiliated with your IPs lawyer) reviewing your contract with you and representing your best interests. You should be using an Assistive Reproductive Technology lawyer. You can find a list of ART lawyers here.
3. Be 100% comfortable prior to signing.Don’t sign your contract until you’re happy/comfortable/satisfied with what it says. Every single time you get an amended contract back to you, read it again verbatim. Don’t just look at the areas where you requested and negotiated changes. You want to make sure no new clauses/requirements/etc. snuck in there while you weren’t looking.
Walk away if it feels wrong or fishy. Yes, it sucks that you’ve come that far and now have to “start over” but don’t compromise yourself. It will feel yucky, and you’ll regret it later.
Related Post: Guide to Becoming a Surrogate
4. Everything is negotiable.Finally, you should remember that pretty much everything in your contract is negotiable. Both surrogates and IPs have asked for things that to other surrogates and IPs might sound off the wall. However, contracts are unique to each situation.
If you don’t like the way something sounds/reads or flat out don’t agree with something then have it changed, taken out, or otherwise negotiated. Nothing is set in stone, and don’t let an agency or lawyer tell you otherwise. If you don’t like it, refer to point #3.