It's official. After endless scrutinizing, multiple revisions, and a bit of discomfort, we have officially signed our contract. All 33 pages. This was the not-so-fun part of the surrogacy arrangement because it makes you think about and discuss not-so-fun subjects like compensation, termination of pregnancy, and every worst-case-scenario that you can imagine including but not limited to divorce of intended parents or gestational carrier, death of one or both of the intended parents, and incapacitation/death of the gestational carrier.
Talking about money is never a comfortable thing. We first discussed compensation right after we met when we agreed to move forward with this
journey. And by discussed I mean I emailed my surro a
questionnaire that our attorney gave us where she listed her desired
amount for compensation and we emailed back saying it all sounded good. Our attorney gave us a similar checklist prior to developing our contract which covered a more detailed breakdown of the compensation. Apparently, there are different variables throughout the journey when compensation is given (X amount for starting medications, X amount for transferring, X amount for positive pregnancy after 3 consecutive rising betas, X amount for confirmed heartbeat, and then X amount per month). There are also various amounts for hypothetical situations such as invasive and surgical procedures like polyp removal, selective reduction, D&C, and loss of reproductive organs and various amounts for lost wages due to bed rest, as well as childcare and housekeeping expenses should bed rest occur. We hoped we would never have to compensate for any of those hypothetical scenarios!
Our surro completed the checklist, which we then forwarded on to our attorney to draft the agreement. It took a couple of weeks for them to get the initial draft to us and we were pretty overwhelmed when we first saw it. There were a number of restrictions for our surro that we had never discussed with our attorney but which appeared to be pretty standard. For example, there was a lengthy paragraph regarding her diet. I had previously requested and she had agreed to eating organic meats and poultry, and while this was in the contract so were a variety of other mandates and restrictions such as eating sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables and limiting fast foods, canned foods, packaged snack foods, soft drinks, cured meats, caffeine, and energy drinks. I was quick to notify our surro that the dietary requests were not something we had asked for as I didn't want her to think I was going to be super-controlling about her every move.
Some other somewhat standard restrictions were related to travel. The initial draft stated that our surro would not travel more than 5 hours or 250 miles away from home for the first 22 weeks of gestation. After the first 22 weeks, she was restricted to traveling no more than 3 hours or 150 miles away from home. The reason for this restriction is due to different jurisdictions' laws related to surrogacy. The concern is that if our surro was traveling to a state that did not recognize surrogacy and went into labor, we may not be able to have rights as Intended Parents. While we agreed that this was important, we didn't think it was fair to restrict her travel for the first 22 weeks so asked that that restriction be removed from the contract. We asked for some other minor changes related to errors that we spotted (ie they listed our surro's husband's daily income as his hourly income, which made for a considerable difference in the amount we would have owed for lost wages) and waited for the revisions. This was a pretty frustrating process. Despite multiple readings and requests, many of the same mistakes were still present and if often took days to get a corrected copy. We got to the point where we just wanted the contracts signed so we asked that they be sent out for our surro's approval even though there was still an inconsistency in the contract. They complied, and assured us that the correction would be made before the final contract was to be signed.
Once the contract was approved by both parties, we scheduled an appointment for the four of us to meet with our attorney to sign the contract. As it turns out, our attorney was out of town so her associated stood in for her. Our surro was given the option to have her own attorney review the contract with her but she waived this option. The signing of the contract was was similar to a closing for property. All four of us had to initial each page (all 33 of them) of three separate copies of the contract (one for us, our surro and the attorney). Jason knows me pretty well and he correctly pointed out that I was racing to be the first one done initialing my copy. I was moving at lightning speed until it occurred to me to check and make sure the correction had been made. I was pretty annoyed to learn that it hadn't. This meant that I had to address the mistake (one that involved compensation) in front of everyone. It was extremely uncomfortable because all previous discussions about compensation were done via text or email. This had to be done in person and I think all four of us were squirming a bit. After several minutes of explaining to the associate, the paralegal finally made the correction and we resumed our signing duties.
A few awkward moments aside, I think the four of use were excited to have the contracts signed as it meant we could soon move forward with transferring our embryos. We all grabbed a bite afterwards to celebrate and found once again that we really enjoyed one another's company. We were hopeful that this would be the first of many celebrations to come!