Building a Baby, with Few Ground Rules” (New York Times: December 13, 2009) should serve as a cautionary tale for individuals attempting to assemble surrogacy and egg donation plans without the guidance of lawyers experienced in these fields.  Those of us who work regularly to prepare gestational surrogacy arrangements and state-specific legal structures acknowledge that the law is considered “unsettled” in even the most surrogate-friendly venues.  Outcomes are forecast only to the best of our abilities.

Web sites like surromomsonline.com have emerged because potential traditional carriers (considerable legal risk) and gestational carriers (less legal risk, generally, but only if structured properly) are looking for a more “personal” connection with eager intended parents.  The motivation behind this is commendable, but when carriers advertise that they “already have a contract to use” and other such dangerous measures to circumvent the complexity that is part and parcel of a surrogacy arrangement, serious red flags should go up.  Intended parents often try to “go independent” and use sites like this to find a carrier in order to reduce cost and avoid working with programs and lawyers and psychologists.  Yes, costs go down this way, but risk profile goes way up.

Carriers should know that quite a few national surrogacy programs will give their preferences vis a vis intended parents serious consideration:  their input matters.  They can feel good about having their wishes followed and still have the protection afforded by a recognized program.  Intended parents should consider the benefits that come with experienced legal representation and think twice before cutting legal corners to try to save money.