Surrogacy and Sisterhood

Last week The Today Show featured a story on two sisters who are actings as gestational surrogates for their third sister who is medically unable to carry a baby to term. 

When Tanya Ratcliff was told by her doctor’s that although she could conceive, she would never be able to carry a baby, her sisters, Tara Schamel and Cassie Ripp jumped in and offered to carry her children.  Today, both sisters are pregnant.  Tara is expected to give birth to a baby girl in April, while Cassie is due to deliver a baby boy in July. 

This extremely touching story has vast legal implications that must be considered.  Many individuals and couples struggling with infertility turn to surrogacy to help them build a family and many of these surrogates are friends or family members who have offered to help. 

Amidst the medical and emotional implications of surrogacy, there are important legal considerations that must be addressed including:

  • In California, a surrogacy contract must be drafted and signed by all parties before the Surrogate becomes pregnant.
  • The contract between the Surrogate and the Intended Parents must address everything from compensation to medical bills to life insurance.  It is critical to engage the services of a surrogacy attorney to ensure that your contract complies with California law.  
  • The contract should address any sort of future contact between the Surrogate, the Intended Parents and the child or children.  This section is especially important if the Surrogate is a close friend or family member who will remain involved in the child’s life.  
  • In California, the Intended Parents can obtain a Pre-Birth Parentage Order which identifies them as the legal parents upon birth and permits the hospital to put the Intended Parents’ names on the birth certificate immediately.  Without this Judgment from the court, the Intended Parents would have to go through formal adoption proceedings.

Every state has different laws relating to surrogacy and it is absolutely necessary to work with a trusted attorney in your state who can advise you on the current applicable surrogacy laws.  If you are looking for a surrogacy lawyer in California, call our office for a complimentary consultation at 310-598-6428 or email

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