For decades, families around the world have expanded their families via Surrogacy. More recently, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Ricky Martin and Gabrielle Union have welcomed their bundle of joy born via a surrogate.
For many families, having the opportunity to conceive via a surrogate is seen as a miracle and I have been lucky enough to be part of this miracle though my surrogacy cases. There has been nothing more special in my career than being in court when my clients have been granted a Surrogacy Judgment. Everyone in the courtroom is in tears.
Many surrogacy cases involve intended parents (parents who hired the surrogate) from other countries, while the surrogate is residing and will be giving birth in the United States. For these types of scenarios, the intended parents travel to the United States to be there in time for the most momentous part of the surrogacy process: the birth of their child.
Before January 31st, the typical process for this would be for the intended parents to obtain a visa to travel to the United States, if necessary, wait for their newborn’s birth certificate, which is needed to obtain the newborn’s passport, then travel back to their country of origin with their newborn to start their new life as a family.
However, on January 31, 2020, President Trump began barring entry to the United States of most foreign nationals who traveled to China within the past 14 days, due to the recent COVID-19 epidemic. Since then, travel restrictions have slowly expanded to countries like Iran, the United Kingdom, and other European countries.
This is where the nightmare for expectant parents of children being born via surrogacy began. Intended parents are being denied entry into the United States to be present for the birth of their child. Others are unable to return to their country of origin with the newborn child until the newborn has obtained a passport. However, due to COVID-19, many records offices are either closed or working with limited staffing, which is creating a delay in obtaining birth certificates and passports.
During my practice, I have always made it clear to my clients that this area of law is complicated and evolving, making the assistance of an attorney crucial. The COVID-19 epidemic has made this point clear. Without a properly drafted surrogacy agreement and power of attorney, encountering issues like the COVID-19’s effect on a surrogacy case, families would be in an even more difficult predicament.
As attorneys across the nation gather at townhouse meetings, lobby their state senators and representatives to make travel exceptions for families expecting a child via surrogacy, one thing is for sure: COVID-19 is shedding light to new legal solutions and preparing us to better advocate for our clients.
By: Gisela M. Acevedo, Esq., Attorney at Contreras Law Firm