At first glance, the process of surrogacy in Delaware might seem overwhelming, but Delaware is one of the safest and most clear-cut states to complete a surrogacy in. This guide will walk you through that process so you can have the smoothest Delaware surrogacy experience possible.
The Delaware Surrogacy Process
Surrogacy in Delaware is an increasingly common way for people to become parents. However, you should carefully learn about the legal, emotional and practical processes of surrogacy prior to beginning so you know what to expect. Every journey is different, but in general, these are the six steps of surrogacy in DE:
Step 1: Determine If Surrogacy Is Right for You
There are many family-building options. Surrogacy isn’t going to be the right one for everyone.
Delaware surrogates and intended parents must prepare to fully dedicate themselves to the process of surrogacy in Delaware for about a year. If you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate, you’ll make some significant sacrifices, and your time, career, body, emotions and family will all be affected if you pursue surrogacy in Delaware. If you’re considering becoming an intended parent, you’ll also make sacrifices, and you’ll need to reflect on how the Delaware surrogacy process will affect you and your family (mentally, emotionally and financially) compared to all other family-building options.
Prospective surrogates and intended parents will also need to meet the requirements set forth by Delaware surrogacy laws and their surrogacy professional. Check Delaware’s “Gestational Carrier Agreement Act” and talk with your surrogacy professional to make sure you’re eligible to become a surrogate or an intended parent.
Intended parents and surrogates alike need to be certain about their motivations for choosing surrogacy in Delaware. The process of surrogacy in Delaware can be demanding, so choose it for the right reasons and be sure that you’re ready.
Step 2: Pick Your Type of Surrogacy and Your Surrogacy Professional
Have you decided that surrogacy is right for you and that you’re ready to begin the Delaware surrogacy process? Then you’ll next select the type of surrogacy you plan on pursuing. There are two types of surrogacy in Delaware:
- Traditional surrogacy: This is the less-common method of DE surrogacy, because a traditional surrogate is the biological mother of the child she carries for intended parents. Through IUI or IVF, the surrogate’s egg is combined with sperm from a donor or an intended father. Delaware’s surrogacy laws are carefully detailed in the “Gestational Carrier Agreement Act,” and these laws do not recognize traditional surrogacy. It’s unclear as to whether or not traditional surrogacy is truly permitted in Delaware. Regardless, most surrogacy professional will not complete a traditional surrogacy because of the associated legal and emotional risks.
- Gestational surrogacy: In this common and well-regulated form of surrogacy in Delaware, gestational surrogates (or gestational carriers) are not genetically related to the child. Through IVF, egg and sperm from donors or intended parents are used to create an embryo, which is transferred to the uterus of the surrogate in a fertility clinic. The “Gestational Carrier Agreement Act,” enacted in 2013, permits pre-birth orders and makes it easy for intended parents to confirm legal parental rights. The gestational surrogacy process in Delaware is carefully regulated and well-detailed in Delaware surrogacy law.
When you decide to complete a gestational surrogacy in Delaware, you also have two options when it comes to surrogacy professionals. It’s always recommended that you work with a surrogacy professional for your own safety as well as for the safety of everyone involved. Your options are:
- A surrogacy agency or similar program: They handle most, if not all, of the services that intended parents and surrogates will need throughout the entirety of their surrogacy process in Delaware, including searching, screening, matching, counseling, case management and any needed referrals to legal and medical professionals.
- A surrogacy attorney: They complete the legal steps of the Delaware surrogacy process. They usually can’t provide matching services to surrogates and intended parents, but attorneys can sometimes refer clients to professionals who do offer those services.
Step 3: Match with Your Surrogacy Partner
Surrogacy partners can match with one another from anywhere. You don’t have to both live within Delaware. Long-distance matches between surrogates and intended parents are more common than not, and regardless of distance, you’ll be able to have the relationship and communication you want to have. There are several different ways you can find someone to partner with for your Delaware surrogacy journey:
- Partner with someone you already know: One of the reasons why many people pursue surrogacy in Delaware is because they already know someone who is willing to be their surrogate, or they’re becoming a surrogate for someone they know who needs their help to have a child. These situations mean that you don’t need to go through the matching process, because you’re already matched. Your next step is to contact a Delaware surrogacy professional to start the legal process prior to beginning the medical process.
- Match via a surrogacy agency: Don’t know someone you want to partner with? A surrogacy agency helps you find the right match by showing you profiles of pre-screened people you could choose to partner with who are signed on with the agency and whose surrogacy goals align with your own.
- Search on your own: Independently pursuing surrogacy in Delaware without the protection of a professional is something that should be done carefully. People who search on their own are responsible for vetting possible matches. Failure to do so correctly exposes them to the risk of scams and fraud. Searching can be done online or through personal connections.
Step 4: Finalize the Legal Process for Surrogacy in Delaware
When you’ve located your surrogacy partner, you’ll move on to the legal stage of the surrogacy process in Delaware together. By Delaware law, this must be completed before any of the medical processes begin.
You’ll create a surrogacy contract alongside individual Delaware surrogacy attorneys. Separate representation ensures that each party is fairly represented. Your surrogacy contract will cover points like the pre-birth parentage order and establishing parental rights for the intended parents, surrogate compensation, how everyone feels about selective reduction or termination, the risks that everyone accepts, the expectations that each party has and more.
The contract must be signed by the surrogate and her spouse (if applicable) and the intended parent(s). Delaware surrogacy law also requires that the signing of this contract be witnessed by two people who are not parties to the agreement. Once this is completed, you can move on to the medical process of surrogacy in Delaware.
Step 5: Finalize the Medical Process of Surrogacy in DE
By law, surrogates in DE must meet several health requirements, including:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have previously given birth
- Have completed a medical and mental health evaluation
Surrogates must also meet the health requirements and screening processes of their surrogacy professional to verify that they’re healthy enough for the physically intensive surrogacy process. Surrogates must be able to take fertility injections, medications and hormones leading to an embryo transfer.
Intended parents, by Delaware law, must have completed a mental health evaluation in addition to meeting the screening requirements of their surrogacy professional.
The embryo transfer process usually takes place at the intended parents’ fertility clinic of choice. The embryo is created through IVF at the fertility clinic’s lab using the egg and sperm of donors or intended parents. It will be transferred to the gestational surrogate’s uterus. Sometimes several cycles of transfers are needed for a healthy pregnancy to occur, but when a doctor has confirmed this, surrogates can go to their own OB-GYN for regular prenatal care.
From that point, surrogates and intended parents typically like to keep in touch as the baby grows and they all wait for the big day.
Step 6: Celebrate the Baby’s Arrival Together
Long-distance surrogacy matches are very common, so intended parents are often ready to travel to their surrogate’s side as soon as she goes into labor. A birth through surrogacy in Delaware is a life-changing experience for everyone involved.
Want to learn more about how to become a parent through surrogacy in Delaware? Or want to learn how to become a surrogate in Delaware so you can help complete families? Contact a surrogacy professional now, and they’ll provide you with the information you need to begin your Delaware surrogacy process.
Please note that this guide is not meant to be used as legal or medical advice. While we do our best to keep this page up to date, it’s always strongly recommended to consult a professional due to the still-changing nature of surrogacy processes and surrogacy laws.