Rich Vaughn Blog: Reciprocal Not Always Equal in Reciprocal IVF

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.

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes
TONI HUGES
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
MIESHA COWART
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.

Kim
KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien
SUNNY CHIEN
Paralegal

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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MOLLY O'BRIEN
Partner

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.