If you’re hoping to become a parent through surrogacy in Maine, or you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate so that someone else can have a family, you’re in luck — you live in one of the best states to complete the surrogacy process. The 2016 Maine Parentage Act solidified a safe, legal and carefully-regulated surrogacy process in Maine, among other family-building methods.
The guide below will walk you through that process, so you can begin your own Maine surrogacy journey, either as a hopeful parent or as a surrogate:
The Maine Surrogacy Process
Although the surrogacy process in Maine is very much legal, commonplace and well-regulated, there are still a number of legal, emotional and practical considerations you’ll need to learn about before you take on this task. Your own surrogacy experience will be unique, but generally, there are six basic steps to the Maine surrogacy process:
Step 1: Decide if You’re Ready to Commit to Surrogacy
There are many ways to become a family. And there are many ways to help others. Surrogacy isn’t going to be the right fit for everyone.
It’s important that you learn about and reflect on the processes of surrogacy in Maine and how they may affect you and your loved ones.
For example, if you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate in Maine, are you prepared to make sacrifices to your body, time, career, emotions and family? If you’re thinking about becoming a parent through surrogacy, are you certain that this is the type of family-building option that’s right for you, or is another path a better fit financially, mentally and emotionally?
You’ll need to be fully committed to surrogacy in Maine for at least a year, and you’ll also need to be certain about your motivations for pursuing this option. It can be mentally, physically, financially and emotionally demanding for those involved, so be sure that you’re choosing surrogacy for the right reasons.
Step 2: Choose the Type of Surrogacy that’s Right for You
If you’ve decided that you’re ready for surrogacy, the next step in the Maine surrogacy process will be to decide which of the two types of surrogacy is right for you:
Traditional surrogacy: Traditional surrogacy in Maine is permitted when the surrogate is a family member of an intended parent with whom she is entering the surrogacy contract. Any other traditional surrogacy in ME would require a formal adoption process, because the traditional surrogate would be the biological mother of the child and would need to choose whether or not she wants to terminate her parental rights after the baby is born. Because of this and the increased legal and emotional risks of traditional surrogacy, very few surrogacy professionals will complete this process.
Gestational surrogacy: This is the preferred type of surrogacy in Maine. Gestational surrogates, also called gestational carriers, are not biologically related to the baby. This relatively straightforward process is regulated by the Maine Parentage Act. In gestational surrogacy, intended parents or donors combine an egg and sperm through IVF, and then transfer the embryo that was created to the surrogate’s uterus. Pre-birth orders are usually easy to obtain with gestational surrogacy in Maine, making it easier for parents to establish their legal rights.
At this step, you’ll also need to choose between two different types of surrogacy professionals you would want to work with. Partnering with a surrogacy professional is important for the safety of everyone involved, including that of the child. Your options for Maine surrogacy professionals are:
A surrogacy agency or program: These professionals provide most, if not all, of the services that you’ll need to complete your Maine surrogacy process in full. This includes searching, screening, matching, counseling, case management, referrals that might be needed and more.
A surrogacy attorney: These legal professionals are not usually able to match surrogates and intended parents, but do complete the necessary legal steps of the Maine surrogacy process. They can also sometimes refer you to a professional who can provide you with any other services you might need.
Step 3: Match with a ME Surrogacy Partner
Long-distance matches are actually very common between intended parents and surrogates. You’re not limited to finding a surrogacy partner who lives in the same city or state as you — you can match with someone anywhere in the U.S. if you feel they’re the right fit for you. There are three different ways you can find a match for your Maine surrogacy journey:
- Partner with someone you know: Many of the people who choose surrogacy in ME do so because they know someone who wants to partner with them, either as a surrogate or as a parent. If you already know who you want to partner with, all you’ll need to do is contact a Maine surrogacy professional to complete the screening and legal processes before you start any medical steps. You’ll need to make sure you meet the state’s eligibility requirements.
- Match through a surrogacy agency: If you don’t already have a surrogacy partner, you can work with a surrogacy agency or matching program to find a match that’s right for you. Other people have signed on with them and have already been screened. You can view their profiles and potentially match if your surrogacy goals are aligned.
- Search on your own: If you’re considering pursuing surrogacy in ME independently without the guidance of a professional, you should always use great care, as you’ll need to vet any potential matches yourself. Those who search on their own are often at greater risk for fraud. Searching is often done online, through personal connections or word-of-mouth.
Step 4: The Legal Process of Surrogacy in Maine
When you’ve found your surrogacy partner, your next steps will be the legal ones. The legal process of surrogacy in Maine must be completed before you take any medical steps for surrogacy. The surrogate, the surrogate’s spouse (if she’s married) and intended parents must have “independent legal representation” from one another, according to Maine surrogacy laws, to ensure fair representation.
The Maine Parentage Act is responsible for governing the steps that are required during this stage and has a few state-specific requirements that you’ll need to adhere to during your legal process. Together with your surrogacy attorneys, you’ll create a surrogacy contract. Surrogacy contracts cover a range of important topics, like compensation for surrogates, how everyone involved feels about things like selective reduction or termination, the risks that everyone agrees to, what everyone expects throughout the process and more.
According to the Maine Parentage Act, the primary points of legally enforceable surrogacy contracts in Maine confirm that, when signed by all parties:
- “The prospective gestational carrier agrees to pregnancy by means of assisted reproduction”
- “The prospective gestational carrier and her spouse, if she is married, have no rights and duties as the parents of a child conceived through assisted reproduction”
- “The intended parent or parents will be the parents of any resulting child”
Your attorney will make sure that throughout all this, the process adheres to all Maine surrogacy laws and is completed ethically. When everyone is happy with the final details of the surrogacy contract, you can proceed to the medical stage of the Maine surrogacy process together.
Step 5: The Medical Process of Surrogacy in ME
In order to become a surrogate in Maine, a woman must meet several state-mandated requirements that verify she’s healthy enough for the physical processes of surrogacy. These Maine-specific health requirements state that a prospective surrogate must:
- “Be at least 21 years of age”
- “Have previously given birth to at least one child”
- “Have completed a medical evaluation that includes a mental health consultation”
- “Not have contributed gametes that will ultimately result in an embryo that she will attempt to carry to term, unless the gestational carrier is entering into an agreement with a family member”
There are similar Maine-specific eligibility requirements for intended parents, although there are fewer because the physical process is typically less intensive for intended parents. These requirements state that a prospective parent through ME surrogacy must:
- “Complete a medical evaluation and mental health consultation”
Surrogates and intended parents will also need to meet the specific requirements of their surrogacy professional, which can vary somewhat from one professional to the next. However, these health requirements are important for the safety of everyone involved, including the baby.
The medical process of surrogacy in Maine involves a gestational surrogate taking a regimen of fertility medications and hormones that lead up to an embryo transfer, which usually occurs at the intended parents’ fertility clinic. Sometimes, a few cycles of transfers are needed for a healthy and stable pregnancy to be established, but when a doctor has confirmed this, surrogates can see their preferred OBGYN for regular prenatal care as the pregnancy progresses.
From that point until the baby’s entrance, intended parents and surrogates usually like to keep in touch with updates about the baby and share in their excitement.
Step 6: Celebrate the Baby’s Arrival
A good number of surrogate-intended parent matches are long-distance, so it’s common for intended parents to travel to their surrogate once she goes into labor. Sharing in the unique experience of a surrogacy birth is a life-changing moment for everyone involved.
Want to learn more about how to become a parent through surrogacy in Maine? Interested in learning how to help hopeful parents by becoming a surrogate mother in ME? Contact a surrogacy professional now to begin your Maine surrogacy process.