This article by Amanda Marino, Attorney at Law is sponsored by Martin Pringle Law Firm.
Many families have a heartfelt longing to build their family and have children. Adoption has been a common way for families to lovingly bring a child into their home. But adoption has become more difficult as the birth rate continues to decline and adoption numbers are not what they were in the past. Adoptions have slowed over the last few years. The National Council for Adoption reports Kansas domestic adoptions declined by 18% in 2020. Using figures from previous years and reported public adoptions, the National Council for Adoption estimates there were almost 200 fewer domestic private adoptions in 2020. Adoption practitioners in Kansas have noticed a decline in agency and private adoptions over the last few years as well. Many practitioners have closed their adoptive waiting pool for families due to the decline in matches.
Alternatives to Adoption in Wichita
Many families are looking for alternatives to adoption to build their family. Some options that are becoming more prevalent in the Midwest are surrogacy and gestational carriers. It is a special way to build your family and Assisted Reproductive Technology has come a long way in recent years.
Are you looking for one of those alternatives, but don’t even know what it means exactly or where to begin? A good starting point is just understanding the verbiage and who can help in these situations.
Surrogacy and Gestational Carrier situations are often confused. While both fall under the umbrella of Assisted Reproduction and Surrogacy, they have different meanings and often come about through very different situations.
What is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy in general has two types – traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. In simplified terms, a surrogate/traditional surrogate is a woman who carries and delivers a baby and shares genetics with the child. A gestational carrier is a woman who carries and delivers a baby for another couple or individual and has no shared genetics with the child.
In a traditional surrogacy, the doctor artificially inseminates the surrogate with the intended father’s sperm. If fertilization occurs, the surrogate carries the baby to term and delivers the baby for the intended parent or parents. Since the surrogate’s egg is used, she has a genetic connection to the child and therefore has the legal protections of a birth mother.
What is a Gestational Carrier?
Gestational Carriers receive IVF and will be implanted with an embryo. The carrier will have no genetic connection to the child. Where do those embryos come from? A heterosexual couple may use their own egg and sperm to create an embryo. Other families use a sperm donor and/or an egg donor to create the embryo. Some families will adopt embryos and use those with a carrier.
What is Embryo Adoption?
Another situation that is somewhat common is the adoption of an embryo and the carrier is the intended parent. The intended parent then has no genetic connection to the child, but is the carrier.
Which Options are Legal in Kansas?
All of the above alternatives to adoption have restrictions based on each individual state’s laws. Those restrictions vary greatly so you will need to make sure you have contact with an attorney in the state in which the carrier or surrogate lives. Because of the differing laws, some agencies only handle carrier situations. There are many agencies across the United States who match surrogates and carriers with intended parents.
These alternatives to adoption come in many different forms and situations. Whether it be a family member that agrees to be a surrogate or carrier, a friend who has remaining embryos from IVF cycles and offers them to an intended parent or parents, an agency match of a surrogate with an intended parent, or many other types of situations.
Which Option is Best for My Family?
If you are looking at the alternatives to adoption for building your family, I suggest first determining a budget and resources and ask yourself these questions. Do you have viable eggs, sperm, or embryos? Do you need a carrier or a surrogate? Have you spoken to your doctor or fertility clinic about what is needed for medical clearances? Do you have a family member or friend who is willing to help? Do you need to look to an agency or attorney for matching? Have you discussed with an attorney what the legal restrictions and needs are in your situation? Ask many questions as it is best to be fully educated of the medical and legal involvement for surrogacy.
How Do I Become A Surrogate or Carrier?
Maybe you are not looking to adopt or build your family, but you have a strong desire to help others. You can contact ART/Adoption attorneys or agencies to inquire about becoming a surrogate or carrier.
Education and knowledge, along with some patience and love, are important when determining how to build your family. Many agencies and attorneys provide information on their websites to those looking to build their family through foster care, adoption, and surrogacy. Finding a fit for your particular situation and family is necessary in determining what is best for YOU and YOUR FAMILY.
There are many practitioners, like myself, who are ready to help you on this journey.
Amanda Marino has committed her entire legal career working toward ensuring positive outcomes for the children, always focusing on the child’s best interest. Prior to joining Martin Pringle’s Adoption team, Amanda spent 15 years in the District Attorney’s Office with 12 years representing the State of Kansas in Child in Need of Care (CINC) matters. In that role, Amanda had the unique opportunity to build relationships with families who adopted through the foster care system which ultimately inspired her to grow her law practice in the adoption and surrogacy arena. Amanda’s love for children extends far beyond her legal career. In her spare time, you will find Amanda coaching basketball and softball, as well as serving as Den Leader for two girl dens in Cub Scout Pack 515. Amanda received her undergraduate degree from Oklahoma City University and completed her law degree at the University of Kansas School of Law. Amanda is admitted to practice in Kansas and focuses her career on adoption, surrogacy law & family law.