12 Jan 2016 Reciprocal Not Necessarily Equal in Reciprocal IVF
Reciprocal IVF (in vitro fertilization) often is chosen by lesbian couples who want to have a child together. In a typical reciprocal IVF scenario, one partner provides the eggs, the other gestates, or becomes pregnant and carries the baby, so that both women have a “role” in the creation of a child. The egg is fertilized outside the womb using donated sperm, often from an anonymous donor. Usually both partners in the relationship intend to end up as equal co-parents to the child they have created.
But when it comes to assisted reproductive technology, nothing is 100% guaranteed, as my co-authors and I explain in our article, The Psychological Implications of Reciprocal IVF, recently published by Path2Parenthood (formerly American Fertility Association).
First there are the potential physical or medical challenges—viability of the egg donor partner’s eggs, viability and strength of the resulting embryos, the potential that the couple may have to undergo more than one fertilization cycle, with the incumbent financial challenges that entails. All of those challenges come with psychological impacts—insecurity, stress, anxiety—as well as individual feelings and attitudes about the partners’ respective roles in the process. Lastly but not least, the legal status and parental rights of each partner are not automatically equal and are not guaranteed by either’s role. As my co-authors and I write, “legal issues are not as clear as they might first appear.”
"Any family formation through assisted reproduction has unique issues, and one must take care not to assume that a child born “into a marriage” is a child of both spouses. Marital presumptions do not necessarily apply in a gender-neutral way, and just because someone can get on a birth certificate doesn’t mean she has parental rights, and if the sperm donation aspect of the process isn’t handled carefully, sperm donors might end up with the ability to assert parental rights. So seek legal advice before embarking on a reciprocal IVF plan so that you are aware of the legal issues and can best protect yourselves and your children. Finally, consider that if you’re doing IVF, it’s still important to put things in writing especially when remaining embryos can be cryopreserved….because there are future disposition issues that need to be clarified (i.e., what happens to the embryos in the event of death, divorce/dissolution, etc.)."
From both personal and professional experience, I can attest that ensuring all legal issues are thoroughly addressed, clearly understood and agreed upon by both partners before embarking on the IVF process goes a long toward mitigating the psychological stressors that naturally accompany such a monumental enterprise as bringing a new life into the world. Properly executed and filed legal documentation of parental rights and responsibilities, completed with the guidance of an attorney experienced in ART law more than pays for itself in future legal security and peace of mind.
To read the entire article, please visit http://www.path2parenthood.org/article/the-psychological-implications-of-reciprocal-ivf.