If one is a prospective intended parent or potential surrogate looking to become involved in a surrogacy arrangement (especially gestational surrogacy), Pennsylvania is an excellent state in connection with which to do so for many reasons which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Surrogacy is not governmentally regulated in Pennsylvania. Therefore, one does not have to comply with any strict or demanding statutory scheme, such as exists in certain other states.
- Traditional and gestational surrogacy arrangements for compensation or otherwise, and contracts regarding same are presumed to be legal and enforceable, respectively.
- In Pennsylvania, unlike in certain other states where the law is either unfavorable or uncertain, intended parents who are biologically related to the child need not worry about the possibility that their gestational surrogate might want “to keep the child” since the Pennsylvania Superior Court has held that a gestational surrogate lacks standing to even seek custody of the child let alone obtain it. From a legal point of view, a gestational carrier is treated as if she were a complete stranger to the child she bore.
- Unlike many states, it is possible for the intended parent(s), who are biologically related to the child born of gestational surrogacy to establish legal parentage of the child without having to initiate adoption proceedings, which can be expensive and time-consuming.
In order to do so, the intended parent(s) must utilize an administrative procedure established by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (“Assisted Conception Birth Registration”) and obtain a court order (usually prior to birth of the child) from the court(s) having appropriate jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, not all County Courts in Pennsylvania are willing to issue such orders or may only be willing to do so under certain conditions and circumstances.
Therefore, it is extremely important for intended parents to be represented by an experienced surrogacy attorney such as Attorney Shields, who is familiar with which county courts issue such orders and who can guide his clients accordingly.
- Where the intended parent(s) are not able to establish legal parentage of the child through the Assisted Conception Birth Registration (such as, in a case where the court will not issue the necessary order), Pennsylvania only requires the initiation of step-parent adoption proceedings, which are much simpler and typically less expensive than traditional adoption proceedings, in cases where Pennsylvania has jurisdiction.
- Finally, Pennsylvania permits same sex-couples to adopt children. Same sex-couples (especially female couples) will commonly utilize gestational surrogacy in order to become parents of a child. Fortunately, unlike many states, some County Courts in Pennsylvania will permit the partner who is not genetically related to the child to establish legal parentage through the Assisted Conception Birth Registration procedure discussed above rather than requiring the initiation of adoption proceedings. Even where adoption proceedings are required, usually step-parent adoption proceedings can be utilized.
Hence, once again, since not all County Courts in Pennsylvania are the same, it is important that the same sex couple retain an experienced surrogacy attorney, such as Attorney Shields, so that they may be properly advised and guided accordingly.