How Has the Pandemic Affected Surrogacy Arrangements?
Each year, about 750 children are born through surrogacy. The surrogate process can be a great way to expand a family, but things may be trickier during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has affected several different parts of the surrogate and adoption process.
Starting the Process May Be Slower
If you have not already started the New Jersey surrogate adoption process, you should expect it to take a little longer than usual. The New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Law requires that the surrogate must go through medical and psychological examinations before agreeing to carry a pregnancy. During the pandemic, many elective medical procedures have become unavailable. Doctors may be busy handling emergencies, or they could be spacing out patient appointments to reduce in-office crowding. This means that your desired surrogate will have to schedule her examination appointments months in advance. It is important to be patient and start the process as soon as possible.
Handling the Legal Complexities of Surrogacy May Take Longer
In New Jersey, surrogacy is divided into two categories: gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. In gestational surrogacy, an embryo is implanted into a surrogate carrier who is not the biological mother of the child. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate carrier is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm, so she is the biological mother. New Jersey only allows pre-birth agreements in cases of gestational surrogacy. For traditional surrogacy, the surrogate has no duty to surrender the child. Instead, the intended parents must go through typical adoption following the birth of the child.
In both of these cases, parents usually need to go to court. For New Jersey surrogate adoptions, you have to file a petition for adoption, go to preliminary hearings, and then potentially return for a final hearing. With the huge case backlog due to the pandemic, this means that parents going through traditional surrogacy may have to wait months to resolve the situation. For gestational surrogacy, the couple just needs to get a pre-birth order establishing parentage. This helpful document identifies the intended parents as the parent both before and after birth. You typically obtain this order in court, but it is possible to waive court appearances. With most New Jersey family courts so busy, they are encouraging families to seek waivers whenever possible. Typically, your New Jersey adoption lawyer can just file a bit of paperwork, so the COVID delay will be very brief.
You Might Not Be Present at the Birth
Often, surrogacy adoption agreements include discussions of what everyone expects to happen right after the birth. Prospective parents may be looking forward to cutting the cord, skin-to-skin time with the newborn, and other family bonding moments. However, this is not always possible with surrogacy during COVID. Depending on the hospital you go to, only the pregnant woman may be present in the delivery room, and newborns may be isolated for their own safety.
As your New Jersey adoption lawyer will explain, the health of the surrogate and the child is always a priority. If doctors deem it medically necessary for the carrier and child to be isolated for a certain amount of time, you need to respect this decision. Regardless of what your initial agreement was, it may be quite a few weeks before you can bring your baby home. This is understandably frustrating, but it is inevitable in some surrogacy cases. During this difficult time, try to focus on the positives. Despite the disruptions from the pandemic, it’s still possible to finalize your adoption and welcome your new family member eventually.
COVID-19 might be slowing down adoptions, but there is still hope for your family. Have more questions about how the pandemic will affect your adoption via surrogacy plans? The office of Cofsky & Zeidman is here to help New Jersey residents. We have offices in Haddonfield and Woodbury. As experienced New Jersey adoption lawyers, we can guide you through all the complexities of adopting during a pandemic. Our team is happy to provide remote consultations, so go ahead and call us now at 856-429-5005.