Signing Away My Uterus

I promised a little backstory, since my blog posts went from “aiming for a transfer” to “we have a negative”.

My IP’s and I started working on the contract prior to the stall out of the whole procedure. We had a copy of a contract that had been given to me from a fellow surrogate- she had received it from another surrogate and based her first contract off of it. We used it as the basis for our ideas and worked from there.

Skip forward to post- stall out and finally going through the lawyers. The IP’s went to their lawyer first, and she basically threw out our draft and started again. Either because, as she said “It would be easier to start again then to try to fix this” or because that’s what lawyers do… I have limited experience with lawyers, but my IM would tell you that they do it in order to justify their exorbitant fees.

My IP’s lawyer gave them two names of lawyers that she would prefer to work with, suggestions of who I should choose. I had decided to go with a lawyer in Ontario as they just seem to have more lawyers there that know about surrogacy. For my part in deciding on who to use, I had asked for suggestions from the Facebook group of surro’s. You want an honest opinion on anything in the surrogacy process, this group of gals will give you the goods- no holds barred. (As an aside, I joined another group on Facebook briefly that was made of of mostly American surro’s, and they are a whole other breed down there! They were blunt, but in a generally rude and sometimes downright mean manner. My Canadian surro gals on the other hand, are also blunt but in a supportive and awesome way!)

Back to the lawyers. I did ask the gals their opinions on the lawyers that had been suggested to me- one got an all around thumbs down, and the other got mixed reviews. However, there was one lawyer I had been hearing about who had nothing but positive reviews from everyone that had spoken of her. In the end, she was the one I chose – it took one email and one quick phone conversation between the two of us for me to feel completely at ease with her, and to know that she was who I wanted to work with.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a good lawyer in this process! The husband and I were absolutely shocked at our ignorance when it came to the contract. We read the first draft of the contract and were pretty much like “Huh. Sounds fine I guess?!” We had a couple questions, but not many. At the end of the day, a) we didn’t want to be funding their pregnancy, b) we wanted my health taken into account, and c) didn’t want to have any ownership of the baby at the end! Those concerns seemed to be fairly well addressed, and we were ready to move on. Boy oh boy, did our lovely lawyer open our eyes! (With a complete disclaimer that we in no way think that our IP’s were trying to take advantage of us! The lawyers, of course, write the contract to be in favour of their clients as much as possible, which meant that there needed to be some negotiation to bring it around to something that best covered everyone’s interests …). We found that there were some strange clauses in their that we never would have caught on to, but the lawyer translated into civilian English for us and really opened our eyes!

In the end, we were working within a very short time frame as we wanted an early March transfer – the fertility doctor was going on vacation and it was hurry up and go, or wait another cycle. We all felt we had waited long enough.

After signing the contract, I had a really strong feeling of having signed away the rights to my body to someone else. It was a strange feeling! I said a couple times “I just signed away the rights to my uterus for a year!” It took a few days to wrap my head around it. I knew full well what I was signing, and hadn’t been expecting to have that kind of reaction to the actual signing of the contract.

At the end of the day, it was a positive experience. I have a whole new respect for lawyers- my previous experiences had pretty much reinforced the old lawyers stereotypes (not to mention the jokes about 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean being a good start!). My lawyer is passionate about what she does, down to Earth, accessible, honest, an just all around a lovely person to deal with!

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