It is understandable that all kinds of artificial insemination and all procedures associated with it are encumbered with various laws and legislations. Those ways of conceiving a child opens a lot of new and different “gates” that need a lot of specifying regulations to eliminate any possible inconsistencies that could result in legal problems for e.g. between the egg receiver and donor. You should keep in mind that egg donation laws differ in different corners of the Earth. In one country some parts of egg donation could be illegal and in another the whole procedure could be against the law. In some countries there could be however almost no laws regarding egg donation, it could be in a legal “grey area”
Anyway, abroad or locally here are the things you need to know about egg donation when it comes to legal matters.
Legal status of the recipient mother and the “Egg Donor Agreement”
One of the most common concerns regarding legal matters that worries recipient mothers is the question if they are the legal mothers and should they adopt the child that they carry. This may sound ridiculous but when you think about it, it is not in any way a foolish question. Egg recipients shouldn’t worry about that however. Your status as a mother is established by the fact that you are the person that delivered the baby and that means your name is on the birth certificate in most countries and states. It is called the “presumption of maternity”
That however does not mean that you shouldn’t go into the contract, the so called “egg donor agreement”. It is best you do that. In such contract the donor agrees to give up all the parental rights and agrees that You are the legal mother. She also agrees that your name will be on the birth certificate. There’s no reason to risk it, you want to be sure that the family you’re building stays safe. This agreement makes sure that no matter the genetic bond you are the mother and that’s that. It is good to have an attorney when carrying out this procedures. Why? Simply because the clinic’s sanctions are not contracts and they may mean nothing when you come back to your country after the procedure.
You can of course want to give some rights to the donor if you choose to but it’s not only your decision to make. If let’s say you want your child to meet the donor in the future you should have this in your “agreement” and of course the donor would have to want it to happen also. Shortly put egg donor agreement exists so parties from the both sides can agree on their intentions and legal obligations to one another.
There are different types of the agreement depending on which donor you use, a known one or anonymous match. Matches can be made by clinics or independent agencies. There could be agreements where it is stated that eggs from one donor are given to several recipients. There are also agreements dealing with egg freezing and foreign egg donations. All these agreements differ from one another when it comes to legal ramifications so keep that in mind and remember that if you are not sure of what you are really signing it is best you consult a lawyer.
If some of this information in this document you want to keep between you and not share it with the clinic your attorney should make a “letter of legal clearance” informing the clinic about the agreement. A letter of legal clearance is a version of your agreement transformed by your attorney for the clinic so it does not contain some private matters you don’t want to share. Don’t worry it should have all the essential information needed.
When you give birth to a baby in your country there usually is no issues, the baby is simply of your citizenship. There could however be some problems if you deliver the baby abroad using egg donation. Let’s say that the recipient is a US citizen, when she delivers the child outside of US she might be required to prove that the donor was also a US citizen, if not the child will not be considered a citizen of the US. Be aware of the citizenship regulations concerning third party reproduction.
Insurance and inheritance
The child is your legal dependent and it will stand for inheriting your property. In some countries and some states in the USA the parentage is put automatically on the husband. In a case of separation or a divorce this could cause some issues. Your insurers are not obliged to cover the egg donation processes. In some places there are some legislations that compel the insurance companies to cover some parts of the infertility treatments but almost nowhere for egg donor programs. You could consult a lawyer specialized in reproductive legislations and he could give you advice if there’s some options to cover some of the expenses. If you receive coverage for your IVF with donor eggs you have to remember that this will only cover the ‘medical expenses’ like medical tests, medications and lab fees.
Except the agreement between the donor and the recipient there is also the contract signed between the recipient and the clinic. In this agreement you will find the various regulations protecting you as a recipient. This agreement should state how much embryos will you be receiving and also what happens if the program is unsuccessful in spite of the sperm being in good condition. Some clinics for e.g. give you some percentage refund, 50% or in some cases with the really luxurious and expensive contracts they will even give you a 100% refund or another try for free.
To sum up, remember that even if you read everything and think you know everything you need to know about the egg donation program from the legal standpoint, YOU are not a lawyer! If you want to be absolutely sure that all the assurances made, and all the established obligations are legit and that you and your future family is safe do your best to understand what you are signing and if it’s possible consult a lawyer.