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Is Surrogacy Right For You?

When it comes to starting a family, there are many different parenting options to consider. Surrogacy is becoming a popular alternative for those who aren’t able to have children of their own but desire a biological child. At Hausmann and Hickman, we are adoption lawyers that specialize in surrogacy in Florida. Florida is one of the very few states that provides full parental status to intended parents once the child is born, without having to go through the entire adoption process.

There are two types of surrogacy options which are legal in Florida: traditional and gestational. Many people are opting to use surrogacy, which is a viable consideration for single people, members of the LGBT community and couples experiencing infertility problems who want to have children of their own.

Couples Struggling With Infertility

Many couples who are experiencing infertility problems and have exhausted their fertility treatment options may feel hopeless. Surrogacy is a chance for them to finally create a family and realize their dreams of parenthood. Gestational surrogacy allows both parents to be biologically related to the child. This type of surrogacy utilizes In-Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, to fertilize the eggs of the intended mother with the sperm from the intended father and transfer them into the surrogate’s uterus. The surrogate would not be biologically linked to the child, and would only be considered the carrier for the child.

Same-Sex Couples/ LGBT Community

Surrogacy can give the option of one of the parents being biologically related to the child for same-sex couples and members of the LGBT community. Gestational surrogacy uses the intended father’s sperm and a donor egg (unrelated to the surrogate mother). This type of surrogacy can be a great option, especially for male same-sex couples.

Single People

For single people, surrogacy may be an option that has fewer restrictions than adoption. Many adoption agencies have requirements when it comes to one’s age and marital status. Single women who have healthy eggs but cannot carry a pregnancy to full term can benefit from gestational surrogacy, using a sperm donor. Meanwhile, single men or single women who do not have healthy eggs can use gestational surrogacy with a sperm and egg donor, as well.

At Hausmann and Hickman, we believe that being able to start a family is an option that should be available to everyone. Our dedicated staff can help you to achieve that dream through various parenting options. We have many years of experience helping prospective parents create families through surrogacy in Florida. We also know how sensitive and complicated the surrogacy process can be and that is why we will be with your every step of the way. If you are interested in starting a family through surrogacy, give us a call today at 1-877-703-0774 to find out more information.

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What Options Do I Have For Adoption In Florida?

Adoption in Florida is a complex process. It is important for prospective parents to thoroughly research and educate themselves on all legal requirements including representation. 

Michelle Hausmann and Amy Hickman are Florida Bar certified adoption lawyers that specialize in adoption and reproductive law. 

Who Can Adopt In Florida

Florida law authorizes both instate and nonresidents to adopt, and does not discriminate against age, sex, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Types Of Adoption Options In Florida

  • Entity adoption through an adoption agency or adoption lawyers
  • Step-parent adoption
  • Close relative adoption
  • Adult adoption
  • Second parent adoption

Adoption Process In Florida

Before an adoption can take place in the state of Florida, the court must receive consent from the biological parents of the child that they understand and accept that they are forever relinquishing their parental rights. In Florida, there are certain requirements for valid consent.

For children 6 months old or younger:

  • The biological mother cannot sign consent until 48 hours after birth or on her discharge day from the hospital. Once consent is signed, it cannot be revoked unless the birth parents can show proof of fraud or duress at the time of consent.
  • The biological father can sign consent any time after the birth or an irrevocable affidavit of non-paternity at any time before or after the birth.

For children older than 6 months:

  • The biological mother and father can sign consent at any time.
  • There is a revocation period of three days where either party is allowed to change his or her mind.

After consent has been received and signed in front of a notary, the judge can then terminate the parental rights of the birth parents. Once a judgment has been made, the adoptive parents can file a petition for adoption. Parents cannot file until 30 days after the judgment to terminate parental rights or 90 days after placement of the child within their home. After this time, there will be a final hearing to finalize the adoption.

If you are a birth family facing an unplanned pregnancy or prospective adoptive parents wanting to start a family then the adoption lawyers at Hausmann and Hickman can help. We specialize in adoption in Florida, as well as surrogacy options. For more information and resources about adoption law in Florida, give us a call at (561) 732-7030.

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What To Know About LGBT Adoption

Many couples desire to be parents and want to experience the joy of raising a child. Hausmann and Hickman’s child adoption services in Florida provide a full range of services to families of diverse backgrounds and situations, including single parents and same-sex couples. Hausmann and Hickman P.A. provides services which include private adoption, surrogacy, and reproductive law. Michelle Hausmann and Amy Hickman are Florida Board Certified Adoption Attorneys who specialize in reproductive law. They are experienced in handling various types of adoption cases and have an in-depth understanding of these laws.

What To Know About LGBT Adoption:

Process

The adoption process can be exciting, emotional, and lengthy. For many years, LGBT couples were not allowed to adopt due to discrimination and marriage requirements. Same-sex adoption laws have been modified in recent years which allows for more freedom for LGBT couples who desire to adopt. The law states that LGBT couples have the same rights to adopt as heterosexual couples. As long as the couple is able to meet particular state requirements, such as completing home study and background screening requirements, they can move forward in the adoption process.

Eligibility

The eligibility process to adopt for LGBT couples varies by state and may be different if the couple is not married. Eligibility requirements to adopt in Florida include having a stable income, passing all background check and home study requirements, and being able to provide a stable environment for the child.

Hausmann & Hickman, P.A. is a private adoption attorney in Florida which provides legal services for families hoping to adopt. LGBT couples who wish to start a family may consider pursuing adoption. Call Hausmann and Hickman P.A. at (561) 732-7030 to speak with our team about adoption, and visit us online at AdoptionandSurrogacy.com for more information regarding the adoption process.

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Financial Assistance Options For Birth Mothers

Florida adoption law allows birth mothers to receive financial support during pregnancy and for a period following delivery. Many birth mothers receive assistance with various expenses such as rent, groceries, and utilities that may be hard to afford due to difficulty working during pregnancy. Private adoption attorneys such as Hausmann & Hickman work with birth mothers to establish a budget that will help ease the burden of expenses during pregnancy. While working with an adoption agency or attorney, birth mothers may also receive counseling and legal services that are covered through the adoption process.

Financial Assistance Options For Birth Mothers:

Medical Expenses Assistance

Medical expenses can become a burden during and after pregnancy. Birth mothers need to visit a physician regularly in order to receive prenatal care before adoption. Many birth mothers are eligible for Medicaid which will cover expenses of a pregnancy. Hausmann & Hickman assists birth mothers in obtaining coverage for their medical expenses during pregnancy and delivery, which may help reduce the stress of co-pays and medical expenses of prenatal care, resulting in a healthier and happier pregnancy.

Living Expenses Assistance

Birth mothers also may receive housing financial assistance as well as assistance with costs of living. This may include assistance paying rent for an apartment or transportation. Other covered living expenses may include groceries, utilities, and phone services, depending on the birthmother’s needs. State, federal, and local laws determine the amount of financial assistance that a birth mother can receive.

Counseling Services

Placing a child for adoption can be a very emotionally difficult process. Speaking to a professional counselor may be a great resource for a birth mother to work through her thoughts and emotions during and after placing her child for adoption. Hausmann & Hickman works with several experienced counselors who can help provide support at no cost to the birthmother during the adoption process.

Legal Assistance

During the adoption process, it is crucial for a birth mother to understand her legal rights and the full agreement made during the adoption process. Hausmann & Hickman, P.A. can provide referrals for legal services for the birth mother during the adoption process with little to no cost to the birth mother.

Hausmann and Hickman P.A. can help birth mothers with financial needs, counseling needs, and legal assistance. If you are considering placing your child for adoption, call Hausmann & Hickman P.A. today at (561) 732-7030 to speak with one of our qualified representatives.

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What You Need To Know About Surrogacy

When entering into a surrogacy arrangement, there are specific legal issues to consider. Each state varies in the legal requirements for creating a surrogacy agreement, and it is important to be informed of the specific requirements of your state. Hausmann & Hickman, P.A. has extensive experience drafting contracts, representing carriers and egg donors, and finalizing third-party reproductive arrangements under all aspects of Florida’s reproductive law.

What Is Surrogacy?

There are two types of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy uses the surrogate mother’s ovum and donated sperm from one of the intended parents or from a donor. Under current Florida law, a surrogate mother who uses her own egg must sign a consent to terminate her parental rights to the child, which may be rescinded up to 48 hours after the child’s birth. Because of this, Hausmann & Hickman, P.A. recommends the use of a donor ovum instead of the surrogate’s ovum.

A gestational surrogacy prohibits the surrogate from donating her own ovum, and the embryo is created utilizing either the intended father’s sperm (with donor egg), the intended mother’s ovum (with donor sperm), or the egg and sperm of both intended parents. The gestational carrier has no biological relationship to the embryo she is carrying, and neither the commissioning couple nor the surrogate may change their mind and “back out” of the surrogacy agreement, regardless of the health of the child, once a pregnancy is conceived. Since the surrogate is not biologically related to the embryo, the commissioning couple assumes immediate physical and legal custody of the child upon birth.

Hausmann & Hickman, P.A. has represented intended parents who reside in the United States and internationally, as well as single parents and non-traditional couples. Whether interested in becoming a surrogate mother, creating your family through surrogacy, or simply interested in learning more about Florida reproductive law, please contact us at 561-732-7030 or visit adoptionandsurrogacy.com to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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What do you say to the woman who has agreed to make you a mother?

After months of waiting, you are notified that you have been “picked” as the adoptive family for a baby due next month. Caveat – she would like to talk with you on the phone…. Wow!

Nothing could prepare you for the overwhelming sense of eagerness, excitement, and outright fear you are faced with at the prospect of a telephone call with this earth angel. After all, she has exactly what you have wanted, for as long as you can remember. So, what do you say?

First, keep perspective. Birth mothers, while special, are still “normal.” They have likes and dislikes (which may include some interesting foods at this moment). Don’t be afraid to ask her how she’s feeling, sleeping, eating, etc. Does she have food cravings or aversions? How does this pregnancy compare to her prior pregnancies? How has her prenatal care been thus far?

Second, remember she is a woman and not only a birth mother. Odds are, she will appreciate your genuine interest in who she is, what she has experienced, and the plans she is making for her future. Does she have hobbies or talents which might be shared with the child she is carrying? What about the child’s extended family? Does she have photos, letters, or any items she would like you to give to the child when they are ready?

Finally, keep in mind that as nervous as you may be about this initial contact, your birth mother is probably equally apprehensive. She may be concerned she will not meet your expectations, or not able to answer all of your questions. Like you, this is probably uncharted water for her too. Although your birth mother may already know of your fertility struggles, she may be unfamiliar with the terms which were included in your vocabulary for the past few years. IVF, IUI, etc., are not part of today’s everyday language. If she wants more information about what lead you to adoption, share your story sensitively. Does she have questions for you?

Most importantly, remind your birth mother that you realize every adoption is different, and you want her to feel comfortable with you… Discuss your willingness to be available to speak with (or meet) her during her pregnancy, and your commitment to providing pictures, letters, etc. post-birth. A birth parent’s biggest fear is her child feeling they have been abandoned by their family. Your promise to share your adoption story with the child will resonate.

Above all, be yourself. This phone call is the first step toward motherhood and building a mutually (beneficial) relationship for two special women.

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What To Look For in a Surrogate Mother

You’ve struggled with infertility and have decided that surrogacy is the best option for starting your family. So where do you begin the search for a surrogate mother? Intended parents and surrogate mothers have a unique relationship that has the potential to create an amazing experience for both parties. Surrogate mothers and intended parents should be well matched because once a pregnancy is conceived in a Gestational Surrogacy Arrangement, neither party may back out of the surrogacy agreement. Because a good match is necessary for the least stressful surrogacy experience, it is important that intended parents look for important qualities in a potential surrogate mother.

Generally, a surrogate should be under the age of 40, have had at least one uncomplicated pregnancy, and have a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Surrogates should also maintain a lifestyle free from alcohol abuse, drugs, or smoking. While those requirements are health-related, there are also more personal and emotional attributes that intended parents should consider. A surrogate should have support from friends and family, as well as from her spouse or partner (if applicable). She should also fully understand the medical risks of pregnancy and the emotions that are experienced after carrying and delivering a baby in a surrogate pregnancy. Other factors that can determine whether or not a surrogate is a good match for you are her feelings towards other issues that may arise during the surrogacy process. For example, what are her feelings about carrying multiple fetuses? How many IVF cycles is she willing to undergo? How much contact does she desire to have with the intended parents?

Finding a surrogate who is well-matched to your situation is essential to create the best possible surrogacy arrangement for both you and your surrogate mother. For more information about Florida reproductive law, contact our office to schedule a complimentary surrogacy consultation.

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Pregnant & Thinking About Adoption?

Adoption is a loving parenting choice for a child. Many birth parents and expectant mothers consider adoption when they are not in the position to meet all of the emotional and financial needs of their child. Like many parenting decisions, the adoption choice can be a difficult decision.

Birth parents often express a fear that their child will not understand their adoption choice or that they may not have sufficient information about their child’s adoptive family.

Every birth parent has the right to choose and meet their adoptive family. It is important that each birth parent is confident that they selected the perfect adoptive family for their child. Through this choice, the parent has an important voice in their child’s future. Today, many birth parents and adoptive parents continue this relationship by agreeing to an open adoption plan. With an open adoption plan, a birth parent will receive periodic updates on their child on a schedule and in a manner that meets their needs. Many parents may also choose to enjoy visitation with their children during the years after an adoption placement.

Today, the adoption process is designed to gently guide each birth parent through the choices that are available to them. Before you select any adoption attorney or agency, please make sure that the adoption professional is experienced and local to your state. It is important that each birth parent take the time to meet personally with the adoption professional. It is that adoption professional that is personally responsible for assuring that your choices are respected and honored and your child’s interests are protected. We recommend that you only choose a Florida Bar Board Certified Adoption Attorney. Adoption is a legal process and these attorneys are the recognized experts. Hausmann & Hickman’s attorneys are adoption experts with an outstanding reputation for honesty and caring adoption services.

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Should I Become a Surrogate Mother?

News of surrogate parenting is everywhere and no longer are only the rich and famous able to afford it.  With today’s medical technology and fertility clinics willing to assist patients with payment plans and cycle sharing, becoming a parent using artificial reproductive technology (ART) is easier than ever.

Parenthood is an amazing gift to share, and carrying a surrogate pregnancy may allow a surrogate mother to continue to stay home with her children while providing financial assistance for the household. So, should you become a surrogate mother?

Have you already had at least one uncomplicated, full-term pregnancy? Most infertility clinics and experienced surrogacy agencies screen potential surrogates according to the number of prior pregnancies they have experienced (too many prior pregnancies can put both you and the child at risk). Clinics also scrutinize the overall health of the surrogate including current BMI (body mass index), whether prior deliveries were vaginal or cesarean, and whether there is a history of substance abuse, mental illness, or criminal offenses.

If you fit the profile medically, there are more personal factors you should consider. Do you have a partner or other support person willing to assist you in the event you develop medical issues during your pregnancy?  While most “surrogacy friendly” states allow the intended parents to provide financial assistance with necessary childcare, you will want to have a plan in place before any issues arise. How will you explain the pregnancy to your children and extended family?

Are you willing to follow a medical treatment plan that will probably include injections of fertility medication? If the plan is not carefully followed, a cycle may need to be canceled. Are you willing to undergo selective reduction or termination of the pregnancy if medical concerns arise and it is requested by the intended parents and recommended by the treating physician?

You should also consider whether you have job flexibility so as to permit you to attend the numerous medical appointments required for screening and commencing a pregnancy.  Lost wages may be provided for, but at the end of the pregnancy, you will likely want a job to return to!

Do you have reliable transportation?  Are you willing to travel out of state if the intended parents are using an infertility clinic that is not local? Of course, your travel expenses will be covered, but are you willing to do so?

Finally, but still quite important, is the emotional satisfaction you hope to gain from your surrogate pregnancy.  Would you like the intended parents to attend your prenatal appointments?  Do you want them to speak the same language as you? Are you willing to chat via Skype or email if they are not local? Are you considering doing this for altruistic reasons with no expectation of an ongoing relationship?  Although feelings can certainly change and the intended parents may welcome future contact, you should not expect to get together with the intended parents for annual visits unless this has been agreed to in advance.

Clearly, the decision of whether to become a surrogate mother should not be made hastily.  A surrogate mother is a special person, able to place the needs of another before her own.  If you would like more information or are ready to embark on this journey, please contact us via email or telephone at any time.  We have many families interested in knowing more about you!

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The Florida Supreme Court Recognizes a Same Sex Couple’s Constitutional Right To Parent Their Children. D.M.T. v. T.M.H

The Florida Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking opinion protecting every Florida Citizen’s Right to create and parent their own children free from discrimination based on marriage or sexual orientation.  Today, individuals and couples choose to create their families in their own unique and personal way.  Many couples turn to assisted reproductive technology and egg/sperm donation.  Florida law now unequivocally recognizes and protects these new emerging “non-traditional” families.  As prospective parents contemplate their new families, they can look to the law with the help of an experienced attorney to establish and protect their parental rights.  Most significantly, the law will protect a child’s interests to maintain these family relationships in their best interests.

Read the full opinion:           http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2013/sc12-261.pdf

 

T.M.H. is the biological mother of a child that she and her former partner, D.M.T. agreed to conceive and co-parent.  T.M.H. gave D.M.T her egg so she could conceive the child.  After the child’s birth, both T.M.H. and D.M.T. co-parented the child in the same home until they dissolved their relationship.  After a period of time, D.M.T took the child and relocated to Australia without the notice or consent of T.M.H.  After T.M.H. located the child, D.M.T. refused to allow T.M.H. any access to the child claiming she surrendered all parental rights by giving her the egg that created the child.  The Florida Supreme Court declined to recognize this harsh application of Florida law.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s reproductive technology law must recognize every person’s right to procreate using modern technology regardless of that person’s sexual orientation.  The law declared unconstitutional the definition of commissioning couples as limited to a mother and father, expanding the law to include same-sex couples who intend to conceive and co-parent a child.

This is a lengthy and important opinion.  Prospective parents should use caution when creating families through reproductive technology.  It is always prudent to consult with an experienced attorney to protect your rights to a child before your child is conceived.