Surrogacy By State

California Surrogacy Process

The often-complex process of surrogacy in California may seem overwhelming at first, but the informational guide below can help intended parents and surrogates to learn more about how to pursue their CA surrogacy dreams in a way that’s legal, ethical and as stress-free as possible.

Surrogacy brings people together in pursuit of a common goal: to create families! The following guide can help you to begin your own California surrogacy journey:

The California Surrogacy Process

California is one of the most surrogacy-friendly states, but there are still a number of complex legal, emotional and practical implications to surrogacy that you should learn about and reflect on before you begin. These are the six standard steps of surrogacy in CA:

Step 1: Choose to Commit to Surrogacy

Surrogacy is about a year-long commitment that requires the full dedication of both parties, so of course it’s something that you’ll need to think about carefully. Make sure that you’re fully informed about the legal, emotional and physical processes of surrogacy in California and how these processes can affect both you and your family in different ways — whether you’re a potential surrogate or intended parent.

For surrogates, you should consider how committing to surrogacy will impact your time, body, emotions, career and family. For intended parents, you should compare the many different family-building options to California surrogacy and how these different options could affect you mentally, emotionally and financially.

Ask yourself: what are your motivations for pursuing surrogacy in California? Make sure you are pursuing surrogacy for the right reasons and that those reasons are worth the demanding process ahead.

Step 2:  Choose the Type of Surrogacy and the Surrogacy Professional

If you’ve decided that surrogacy is the right path for you, you’ll next learn about the two types of surrogacy:

  • Traditional surrogacy: the most uncommon method of surrogacy in California today, a traditional surrogate is the biological mother of the child. She uses her own egg, which is fertilized via intrauterine insemination using sperm from either a donor or an intended father. Traditional surrogacy is permitted, although not legally addressed in California. It carries additional legal and emotional risks, which makes it a rarely-used type of surrogacy.
  • Gestational surrogacy: the more common method of surrogacy, gestational carriers are not biologically related to the child. An egg and sperm from donors or intended parents is used to create an embryo through in vitro fertilization, which is transferred to the gestational surrogate to carry. Gestational surrogacy is legal and well-regulated in California, making it a popular and safe family-building option.

Surrogates and intended parents are always recommended to work with a California surrogacy professional. There are two types of CA surrogacy professionals that you can choose from:

  • A surrogacy agency: provides most, if not all, of the services needed to complete the California surrogacy process in its entirety. This includes, screening, matching, counseling, case management and referrals for both intended parents and surrogates.
  • A surrogacy attorney: provides the legal services required for the California surrogacy process. While attorneys rarely match surrogates and intended parents, they can sometimes refer clients to professionals who can provide the services that they don’t offer.

Step 3: Choose Your Surrogacy Partner

You’re not limited to matching with intended parents or surrogates in California — you can match with a surrogacy partner anywhere in the U.S. In fact, many matches are long-distance and the relationship between surrogates and intended parents still thrives.

Surrogacy agencies help people match with a surrogacy partner if you don’t already have someone in mind. Agencies show you profiles of potential matches of pre-screened people who share your surrogacy goals, and you’re able to choose from those profiles.

If you’re pursuing surrogacy independently and are looking for a match on your own without the protection of a professional, you should always proceed carefully. You’ll be responsible for vetting matches found online or through personal connections, and you could be at risk for fraud, so use your best judgment.

If you’re not sure what you’re looking for in a potential surrogacy partner, consulting with a CA surrogacy professional can help. They’ll be able to walk you through your options and help you narrow down what might be a good match for you.

Step 4: Complete the Legal Process for Surrogacy in California

Once you’ve found a match for your CA surrogacy journey, you’ll need to complete the legal process together before you begin the medical process.

The California Family Code § 7960 governs gestational surrogacy in California, making the process clear and simple for surrogates and intended parents. Pre-birth parentage orders are permitted in California with no hearing necessary, so establishing legal parental rights for intended parents is easy.

Both surrogates and intended parents will need to be individually represented by a California surrogacy attorney to ensure that both parties’ interests are equally advocated for when creating the surrogacy contract. A surrogacy contract must be completed and notarized before any fertility-related medications can be taken by the surrogate or any medical steps can be taken. The California surrogacy contract is legally required, at a minimum, to include:

  • The date the contract was executed
  • The persons from which the gametes to be used originated
  • The names of the intended parent(s)
  • The process for any necessary pre-birth or parentage orders
  • Risks and responsibilities of the intended parent(s) and surrogate
  • Surrogate compensation
  • Agreement on sensitive issues like selective reduction or other potential circumstances
  • Expectations on contact between the parties and who will be present at important appointments and the birth

Your attorney is there to ensure that your surrogacy process is completed in accordance with all California surrogacy laws. Once the surrogacy contract is finalized, you can proceed to the medical stage of surrogacy.

Step 5: Complete the Medical Process of Surrogacy in CA

In order to become a surrogate in California, a number of health requirements and screening processes must first be met, which is done to ensure that a woman is healthy enough to undergo the physical demands of surrogacy in CA.

Gestational surrogates in California will complete a regimen of fertility medications and hormones, which will lead up to an embryo transfer, usually taking place at the intended parents’ fertility clinic of choice. Embryos are created in a lab through in vitro fertilization using eggs and sperm from either donors or intended parents, and are then transferred to the gestational surrogate’s uterus. Sometimes, multiple cycles of transfers are needed for a healthy pregnancy to occur. Once pregnancy has been confirmed by the doctor, surrogates can begin receiving base compensation and a monthly allowance, which is legal in California.

At that point, surrogates can go their own OBGYN for routine prenatal checkups throughout the pregnancy, and surrogates and intended parents can stay in touch to whatever extent both parties prefer as the baby grows.

Step 6: Welcome the Baby Together!

Long-distance surrogacy matches are common, so intended parents often travel to be with their surrogate once she goes into labor. Intended parents and surrogates can support each other and share in the unique experience of a surrogacy birth together.

Many California surrogates and intended parents choose to keep in touch after their surrogacy journey together has ended, because they feel bonded by their experiences together. If you’d like help facilitating a post-surrogacy relationship with your surrogacy partner, or if you need any post-surrogacy resources, you can always turn to your surrogacy professional for help.

Want to become parents through surrogacy in California? Or do you want to help others to achieve their dreams of having a family by becoming a surrogate in California yourself? Contact a California surrogacy professional to receive more information about the surrogacy process in California now.

Male and Female couple smiling with surrogate mother
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