Surrogacy is not legal in Michigan, however laws in many states permit surrogate mothers to carry babies created by ART (assisted reproductive technology) or IVF (in vitro reproduction). Many couples want a child of their own, but for one reason or another, cannot do it on their own. Sean and Carolyn Savage, about whom I wrote the other day, could not use their own remaining embryos after Carolyn had successfully (albeit with great difficulty and cost—emotionally, physically and financially) carried to term another couple’s baby when Carolyn’s fertility doctor implanted the wrong embryos. Carolyn simply could not physically manage another pregnancy. So Sean and Carolyn looked for and found a surrogate who was willing to carry their own embryos. Sadly, two pregnancies miscarried and the Savages were left without an addition to their family of five.
Other couples, LGBTs, also want a child or children of their own. Some lesbian couples can accomplish a pregnancy with one being the birth mother using her own eggs and using donor sperm.
A healthy baby girl was born nine months and went home with R.W.S. and B.C.F. The surrogate visited the infant at the men’s home, and all seemed on schedule for the non-biological father to adopt the child, a process that would include a voluntary termination of the surrogate's parental rights. Unfortunately, the surrogate soon showed up on their doorstep stating that she had changed her mind and demanding the return of “her child.”
Although there has been a growing acceptance and popularity of IVF and ART, allowing a surrogate to bear and give birth to a child she may have no genetic or biological connection to, using embryos created in a lab with donated eggs and sperm, there can be risks involved in this process, and none so dire as the mother wanting the child after its birth.
Harvard Business School professor Debora Spar, in her 2006 book, The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception, has stated that the science of making babies is a $3 billion-a-year industry, involving fertility clinics, surrogacy agencies, and online brokers specializing in matching Indian- or Ukrainian-based surrogates with prospective U.S. parents or U.S.-based surrogates with would-be parents in other parts of the world where surrogacy is illegal.
Lawyers who help couples facilitate surrogate birth say that most cases are trouble-free, with the contract fulfilled and the baby delivered. However, the industry is largely unregulated.
The Human Rights Campaign states that six states allow individuals and couples to enter into surrogacy contracts: Arkansas, California, Illinois (gestational surrogacy only), Massachusetts, New Jersey (uncompensated surrogacy agreements only) and Washington (uncompensated surrogacy agreements only).
According to the HRC, the District of Columbia and 11 states prohibit surrogacy agreements in all or some instances. The District of Columbia and Florida prohibit surrogacy for all unmarried couples; Indiana and Louisiana prohibit traditional surrogacy; Michigan and Nebraska prohibit compensated surrogacy agreements; Nevada prohibits surrogacy for all unmarried couples; New York, North Dakota and Texas prohibit surrogacy for all unmarried couples; and Utah and Virginia prohibit surrogacy for all unmarried couples. The remaining 34 states have mixed or unclear laws and/or court case rulings on whether surrogacy agreements are allowed. See the HRC website for more details.
You may read the remainder of the ABA Journal article here:
As Surrogacy Becomes More Popular, Legal Problems Proliferate - Magazine - ABA Journal.
The determination of parenting rights is always made on a case-by-case basis. If you are facing a parenting contest or are considering becoming a parent, you should consult with an attorney licensed in your state and familiar with GLBT family law.