When it comes to surrogacy in the United States, not all states are open to the process and the laws can vary greatly. Where you choose your surrogate services can have a big impact on parental rights, costs and ease of process, so it is important to know the different state laws before starting the emotional and financial investment.
In general, the states with the strongest statute or other basis for reliable results include California, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhodes Island, and Wisconsin. In these states, surrogacy and pre-birth orders are granted throughout the state. In a few states, you must proceed with great caution, including Arizona, Nebraska, and Indiana in which statute makes surrogacy contracts unenforceable. In the District of Columbia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington state, surrogacy contracts are prohibited by law entirely.
All other states have varying laws based on meeting certain conditions, including marital status, sexual orientation, or genetic tie to child. Additionally, in some of these “middle-of-the-road” states, surrogacy is permitted but only because no statute or case law prohibits the practice, but parentage order is only granted under certain conditions.
When it comes to the the essential parentage rights, or the legal recognition of the parents, California leads the majority of the states in in establishing a ONE-STEP process for heterosexual couples, in which both parents can obtain a pre-birth order and both parents can be named on the birth certificate. Some states (Wyoming, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee) require a TWO-STEP process that involves adoption and an amendment to the birth certificate.
For same-sex couples, the number of states offering the one-step pre-birth order and named birth certificate drops dramatically. While same-sex couple rights are changing very quickly across the U.S. and state laws are evolving to reflect this, California remains one of the best states for surrogacy services with statute in place to protect the intended parents.
It’s important to note that surrogacy law is constantly evolving. Even in states with statute on surrogacy, the law as it is written can differ dramatically from how the laws are actually practiced. Reproductive Sciences Medical Center (RSMC) recognizes how critically important it is that intended parents have access to the proper legal guidance to navigate the complicated challenges that exist in relation to surrogacy laws in the U.S. To this end, RSMC established in-house counsel as part of our integrated surrogacy program and services to ensure a seamless and unhindered process.