Memo From and OPTS Member
My name is Paula and I am a Chapter President for OPTS.
OPTS (Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy) is a national, non-profit,
tax-exempt organization devoted to surrogacy information, education, support,
networking and advocacy. Our group was started in 1987 with a handful of parents
from the Center for Surrogate Parenting for the purpose of testifying against
anti-surrogacy legislation in Sacramento, CA. After their appearance, the
parents decided to stay together to advocate for surrogacy and thus OPTS was
formed. In 12 years the organization has grown to 1500 members including members
in Germany, England, France, Israel and Japan.
Our group lobbies lawmakers for positive surrogacy laws which will include:
(1) an enforceable contract in every state (to discourage Baby M-type disputes
and protect all parties in an agreement, especially the children)
(2) fair compensation for the surrogate's time, work and risk of pregnancy and
(3) recognition of the intended parents as the legal parents no matter whose
egg, sperm or embryo is being used.
We also oppose court decisions which force intended parents out of state or onto
the internet for services and/or encourage Baby M-type disputes( also like the
one in MA - where due to the MA Supreme Judicial Court's decision, no one can
safely do AI surrogacy in MA). The legal climate has become much more favorable
in recent years though. Several states, including Tennessee and Florida,
reversed their anti-surrogacy laws. Illinois can now put parents doing
gestational on the birth certificate with just a doctor's note certifying they
are the parents. And Louisiana has appointed a legislative panel to recommend
new laws for 2002. OPTS's goal is to support Louisiana in supporting positive
lawmaking this time around.
It is estimated that one out of every six infertile couples of childbearing age
has suffered the heartbreak of infertility. Surrogate parenting is a viable and
successful option for infertile couples to build their family. It is a unique
and special relationship based on mutual trust and respect. There are several
types of surrogacy arrangements - Classic (AI) Surrogacy where the surrogate
conceives using her own ovum, Gestational (IVF) Surrogacy where the ovum comes
from the intended mother or Donor Surrogacy, where the egg is donated by a third
party. We like to call surrogates 'gestational surrogates' not 'gestational
carriers' the reason being we don't want infertile couples further discriminated
against on the basis of who can use an egg and who doesn't. And it defeats our
goal of having intent of agreements recognized no matter whose egg is used.
There is no scientific data available on numbers of births but it is estimated
that 10,000 - 15,000 or more babies have been born via surrogacy since 1976. And
in spite of negative media, less than 1/4 of 1% of surrogates have ever changed
their minds about relinquishment. Over 99% of agreements have worked out
successfully for the surrogates, intended parents and babies.
A very important question of potential parents is the finances in this endeavor.
Typically, $35,000 plus for AI and $40,000 plus for gestational. Costs are
incurred in areas such as - agency fee, surrogates expenses, clinic,
medications, psychologist, life insurance, health insurance, attorney fees (the
couples and surrogates) and other miscellaneous fees.
As for my own personal experience, my husband and I turned to gestational
surrogacy when we realized that we did not want to take the risks of another
pregnancy because of a condition that I developed during my last pregnancy that
ended in a miscarriage. I called Resolve looking for information concerning
surrogacy - they gave me the telephone number of an OPTS contact person. I am
currently a contact person for anyone in the RI, MA and CT area who is
interested in surrogacy. I decided to join OPTS and received all the information
and support I was looking for. I chose an agency in MA who was able to help us
find a clinic, a lawyer and a surrogate. It's not a smooth road to travel,
actually it's very bumpy. But it is truly worth every bump - we have met
wonderful people along the way, including our surrogate who has become a good
'friend', and trying to make our dream come true - a baby. So far we have had
one egg retrieval and egg transfer, unfortunately resulting in a miscarriage.
But we are looking forward to trying a second time!
Anyone considering surrogacy to build their family should join and get our
resource packets, state law guide, connection to other parents for information
and support and access to our internet chat and other services.
Of course the choice is up to the intended parents, however, we encourage them
to use professionals who are OPTS members, as we can try to help them should
they have a problem with the member doctor, agency, etc. We do not have a right
to call those who are not members of OPTS on their behalf.
Applications are available on this website.
Those of you thinking of doing surrogacy, we wish you all the best in your
journey and we hope that we can be of help to you.