Florida women learn surrogacy isn’t always easy

On behalf of Furr & Cohen, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, October 2, 2014.

The road to parenthood is one that is very difficult for some couples. Problems with infertility and other conditions might lead the couple to try to find different avenues of starting a family. One of the avenues that is possible is surrogacy. While it is possible under Florida law to have a surrogate carry a child for you, some families are finding out that there are other challenges they must overcome.

Jewish mothers who had children via surrogacy are making headlines right now because the status of their children is being called into question. The issue coming into play is that of Jewish halachic law, which says that children must be “born” of Jewish mothers to be considered Jewish.

In Florida, a woman can turn to surrogacy in very specific situations, such as if carrying a child would be a health risk to the mother or child. Some of the women who meet the strict criteria are using gestational surrogacy. In this type of surrogacy, the surrogate carries a child that is the result of the commissioning mother’s egg meeting the commissioning father’s semen. The DNA makeup of the baby is from the commissioning mother and father, not the surrogate.

In the case of gestational surrogacy, Florida law stipulates that the surrogate must relinquish custody of the baby the parents. However, child custody problems might still arise if the DNA determines that the child doesn’t belong to both commissioning parents.

Even in that case, there is still some question as to whether the child should be considered Jewish or not. The struggle that these parents are going through also serves as a reminder that anyone who is exploring surrogacy to start a family should make sure everything is done in accordance with Florida laws.

While these parents are having to question their child’s right to be considered Jewish, parents who use surrogates but fail to fully comply with the requirements of doing so, might find that they have legal issues with child custody or other problems down the road.

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Surrogacy moms fight for Jewish recognition” Shani McManus, Sep. 29, 2014