Chances are, if you’re a single individual who has been looking into growing your family, you’ve heard about gestational surrogacy. You also probably have some questions as to how you can get started on this journey and what you can expect.
This week, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Virginia Frank, an Adoption and Surrogacy Attorney and CEO of Adoption Choices of Nevada. Virginia has quite a few accolades to her name, including the 2017 Distinguished Lawyer from Expert Network, the 2016 and 2018 National Academy of Family Law Attorneys’ Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in Oklahoma in 2016 and 2018. Virginia has been successful in completing over 350 surrogacies and about 4,000 adoptions.
I can tell you that she is very, very kind and has a lot of information to share.
ME: How long have you been an attorney in the surrogacy and adoption legal field?
VF: I started doing Surrogacy in 2005. I had been focused solely on adoption since 1993 prior to that.
ME: What inspired you to get into surrogacy and adoption law?
VF: Well, I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. I felt like many of my classmates were pregnant, and that adoption was one of those options that they never got to look at and didn’t understand that that might be a possibility.
ME: When is a good time for a single Intended parent(s) to reach out to an attorney such as yourself?
VF: Well, first you’d have to find an attorney that would do matching. In many states, you can do surrogacy matching with attorneys or agencies. But, that said, I think the best time would be when they’ve exhausted all of their infertility options.
ME: What is the matching process like? Would an intended parent have to match with an agency, a gestational carrier and an attorney?
VF: No, they wouldn’t have to match with an attorney at all. It would be with a surrogacy agency that has vetted gestational carriers. [The agency] will try to make sure that the gestational carrier is ready, and meets their requirements for transfer. Clinics usually transfer one embryo once everything has been cleared.
ME: Since the gestational carrier doesn’t share the genetic component, where would the second half of the equation come from?
VF: It would come from an egg or sperm bank or an egg donation agency. A lot of transfer clinics now have their own egg bank, so intended parents can be easily matched that way.
ME: Are there any specifications that intended parents should keep in mind during that time?
VF: All health insurance is purchased and in place for the gestational carrier who will cover the pregnancy. Also, make sure that insurance is purchased for coverage of the child.
ME: Let’s say that a single parent matches with an agency that they really like working with. Is there a limit to how many times that they can try to do the transfer?
VF: You can use any agency you’d like. First, the intended parents would have to pick an agency. You couldn’t pick more than one because that would just get too expensive. Once the gestational carrier has been cleared medically and psychological and the fertilized embryo has made the transfer, a Gestational Carrier Agreement is drawn up by attorneys.
Everyone has their own attorney. The gestational carrier has her own, and the intended parent – or parents – as well.
The agreement states how many times intended parents can transfer within a certain time period. Usually, it’s one year or three transfers. The reason that it’s usually limited is if they have transferred three times and the gestational carrier does not get pregnant. Then, it may be time for them to get checked out by their medical doctor. [It could be] that they might not be the right surrogate for [the intended parent].
ME: What requirements should a single parent or a surrogate meet?
VF: Gestational carriers need to have a medical exam as well as a psych exam to be able to become a gestational carrier. The intended single parent must obtain an egg donor [if they are male], and a single female must obtain a sperm donor. All intended parents need good insurance and must choose a great clinic to work with on the medical end.
ME: Is there a high success rate?
VF: Every pregnancy is different, just like if you had your own child. I don’t know what the rate of success is but I’m sure that you can find some on CCRM’s website. Clinics have different success rates – that’s why people pick them. [The clinics] may be very picky about their surrogates due to different risk factors. One of the things they don’t do is take anyone who is on Medicaid or a government subsidy of any kind. Nor will they take surrogates who have any type of postpartum or depression. Any type of depression where the gestational carrier had to be medicated or experienced depression during or after pregnancy. Hormones change a lot; so, a lot of times, certain people are at risk if they’ve had depression before.
Single Parents and Gestational Surrogacy
Thank you, Virginia, for the wonderful talk!
If there are any questions that you have that were unanswered in this interview, or if you’d like to get to know a little bit more about Virginia’s work, visit her website, specifically the FAQ section. Keep your eyes peeled, as well, for more articles on our website regarding surrogacy.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
Adoption Choices, Inc. is a private, non-profit adoption agency licensed by the state and leader in the adoption community. We have been assisting birth parents, children, and adoptive parents since 2002. Our staff has a genuine commitment to providing an empathetic, empowering, and progressive experience to all involved in the adoption process. If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Mallorey English is an aspiring proofreader and editor. She’s completed a couple of online courses through Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) and has used her education to help edit her mother’s inspirational book, Monday Motivation: 52 Weeks of Inspiration to Keep Moving in 2018 and running blog Life Up and Running. She hopes to one day become a full time freelance editor. As a Surrogacy Intern with Adoption Choices, Mallorey looks forward to learning more about how surrogacy affects intended parents and gestational carriers.
When she isn’t working, Mallorey can be found on a yoga mat, crafting a new project, or watching her favorite movies. She currently resides in northern Nevada with her husband and hopes to add on to their family in the near future.