To Turkey Baste or Not

Assisted reproduction can take on many forms. Many who decide to build their family through assisted reproduction use the services of a center. The center may be a fertility center, affiliated with sperm and egg banks, and medical facilities, while others are merely in the business of “matching” a person with an egg and or a sperm donor, or a person who carries the embryo to term. Others seek a more informal method, specifically for donor sperm; hence the turkey baster.

Whatever method used, it is critical to have clear and unambiguous contracts with all of the parties and entities. Many people fall into the trap of relying upon the off-the-rack contract, which often overlooks critical issues or includes provisions prohibited by public policy. And most of these stock contracts provide no remedies in the event the agreement sours, particularly when contracting with a center.

It is important for anyone embarking on creating a family through assisted reproduction to have a formal written contract, with each of the parties and entities involved in the process. There are some who choose not to go the formal route and are successful with the turkey baster. However, even in an informal arrangement, written contracts are critical.

Some aspects of the informal arrangement which may go overlooked without competent counsel can result in great intentions gone awry and a child caught up in a legal battle between and among disgruntled parents. All contracts must spell out the legal rights and responsibilities of each of the parties to the contract, during the pregnancy, immediately upon birth and thereafter. It is not enough for the contract to address the immediate concerns, such as custody and waiver of parental rights. It is crucial for the contract to also address the unfortunate circumstance if the parent(s) die before the child is emancipated and whether the donor may have any rights to the child at that time.

Another critical aspect often overlooked among friends is what, when and how to tell the child born of this contract as to how the child was conceived. Equally important is what role, if any, the known donor will take on in the child’s life. Not only is this particularly sensitive and sometimes awkward among friends, it is also an important aspect in the child’s development. Like a child adopted, a child conceived from assisted reproduction has the right to know.

When building a family through assisted reproduction, with or without a turkey baster, it’s essential that all parties not only have a firm understanding of their rights and responsibilities but also arm themselves with a well written contract.

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