Men Having Babies Frequently Asked Questions


Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 and surrogacy in the USA and Canada

Below are common questions regarding the way the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic is affecting surrogacy, IVF and egg donation. We are constantly monitoring sources and receiving input from members and professionals, and making edits in real time. Note, however, that the situation is very fluid, differences exist between various regions and circumstances, and verifying new information is often challenging. We therefore highly recommend seeking the advice of professionals before you take any action based on this information alone.

Here are some resources we monitor and can provide more updated information:
Also we recommend looking at this interactive map created by surrogacy professionals with:
  • A network of surrogacy professionals and allies that expressed willingness to provide temporary care for surrogacy newborns when the IPs are unable to arrive on time.
  • Open international airports
  • Hospitals they are monitoring
  • States with special open enrollment for Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance policies

COVID-19: USA
Can IVF treatments in the USA go forward right now?

The answer depends on general restrictions on movements, the performance of elective procedures, and specific guidelines for IVF treatments. Hence, because IVF clinics were not deemed as essential services by state or federal governments in the USA and Canada, they are subject to general restrictions on operations of businesses in their respective locations. For instance, clinics in CA, IL, NY, CT and other states were affected starting March 23 from orders that all nonessential employees to remain at home. Furthermore, IVF treatments are subject to guidelines on the cessation of elected procedures, which government or professional authorities have issued even beyond these jurisdictions. Finally, IVF clinics are highly likely to follow guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a widely respected organization that issues clinical and ethical guidelines for the industry. On March 17th ASRM issued new guidelines that call for the suspension of all including egg retrievals (and therefore new embryo creation) and frozen embryo transfers. They also strongly urged clinics to cancel fresh embryo transfers, but left the door open regarding cases where stimulation has already commenced.

When can we expect IVF clinics to resume normal operation?
For IVF treatments to resume, governments will need to lift restrictions on the operations of nonessential businesses, and the ASRM would need to issue new guidelines. The ASRM stated they will issue updates on March 30th, and it seems they intend to wait until “the curve is flattened" (as opposed to when pandemic is completely over), when nonessential medical procedures are possible and the healthcare system can handle the amount of social interaction this will require.
I've already signed contracts with a gestational carrier and begun paying the monthly allowance and insurance payment. Do I need to continue these even though we can't schedule a transfer?
Unless there is specific exclusionary language in your contract you are most likely obligated to continue all payments. Speak with your lawyer about your specific obligations - it may be possible to discuss your specific circumstances and amend the contract if needed as long as all parties are in agreement. You should also read through the insurance policy if you have purchased a specific policy for your surrogate and speak to the insurance broker / advisor if needed.
I’m not a USA resident or citizen, and want to enter the country for the birth of our child. Will I be allowed in?

Even if you're able to secure travel to the USA right now, as long as restrictions on the entry of those who are not citizens or permanent residents, your entry will depend on your ability to invoke an exception to those who have an American family member. You may be able to invoke this exception by claiming that you are the parents of your child either legally and/or genetically. If your child isn’t born yet and is in a pre-birth order state, you can theoretically argue that for all intents and purposes, you have a child here and therefore should be able to travel into the country. Note, however, that recent reports from such attempts indicate that this is very unlikely, and if done recklessly may lead to cancelation of your visa. However a pre-birth order is more likely to provide entry once the baby is born. If you are in a post-birth order situation and there is a genetic link between you and your baby, an alternative is obtaining an affidavit from the doctor stating that there is a genetic connection in order to prove that you have a genetic child in the US. Ask your attorney to write a letter explaining relationship to your child with the pre-birth order and/or affidavit and passports attached.

Needless to say, all of these conditions are subject to change and we expect continued uncertainty in regards to international travel. Therefore  continue to follow new guidelines as they are being issued. If travel is already booked, check with the airlines if flights are on schedule. Refer to the CDC page on travel for updates.  Consult with your lawyer about documents needed to meet requirements for travel and stay informed on government office closures and reduced hours.

I’m a USA resident, but I don't live in the town or state where my child is expected to be born. Will I be able to travel for the birth?

For domestic prospective parents, the answer depends on your personal status (should you be either infected or placed under quarantine) and availability of transportation to the destination. 

However upon arrival to a hotel or rented accommodations, you may be subjected to local lockdown or “shelter-in-place” orders. The assumption is that you should be able to take local transportation to the hospital once you are in town. Entering the hospital may be another issue (see below).

Assuming I can reach the hospital, will I be able to attend the birth and take custody of my child?

There are severe restrictions on who is allowed to enter hospitals all throughout the United States due to COVID-19. However, the particular restrictions depend on the particular state and decrees for each jurisdiction. In many cases, hospitals are not allowing anyone in except immediate patients as a precautionary measure. This means that even if you are able to travel to the hospital, you unfortunately may not be able to attend the birth of your child. Other hospitals are restricting visitors only if they come from high risk areas. Please contact your hospital and inquire about their specific policies.

In the case that you are not allowed to attend the birth, there is unfortunately little you can do to dispute this. You may be able to explain your situation if you are the genetic parents of the baby. However, numerous professionals in the field have stressed that the most important thing to remember is to respect the hospital staff as they are under a lot of pressure and their policies are aimed at keeping everyone healthy. If you are in a pre-birth order state, you will most likely be allowed to take your baby immediately after the birth because you are the legal parent(s). If you are in a post-birth order state and are denied entry to the hospital, you may have to wait until the baby is cleared to leave the hospital because you have no legal claim over it until all the documents are signed, which may take a couple of days. Please consult your attorney as well as the hospital regarding specifics on this procedure as it may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

If I am not able to travel to my child's birth, what are my options?

If you are not able to be there for your child's birth, you must contact your lawyer to fill out appropriate paperwork to appoint a temporary guardian. Professionals in the field have recommend first reaching out to local family or trusted friends. In some cases, a last resort would be a private foster care arrangement. Regardless, our legal experts do not recommend involving the formal US foster care system. One alternative to consider is an organization called Safe Families for Children. They have families that were already screened and possess the required insurance to take care of children temporarily. It is a faith-based organization, but they seem to be willing to help anyone. In addition, a large group of surrogacy professionals that are ready and willing to step in and provide care for a newborn if called to do so. You can see a map and a list of these people at this link. And of course your agency or Men Having Babies can help  in finding someone

If I am not able to travel to take custody of my child, can I ask my surrogate to be the temporary guardian?

The consensus among professionals is that it is inappropriate to ask your surrogate to be the temporary guardian, even if she offers to do so. We do not want to put them in uncomfortable situation emotionally, and there may be difficult legal implications as well. This may only be considered as a last-case scenario, so please reach out to your agency or Men Having Babies for support in finding someone else first.

What is the risk of COVID-19 in pregnancy and for newborns?

Pregnant women are considered an "at-risk" population and cannot benefit from anti-virals that are used to help treat COVID-19. Surrogates should self-isolate and limit social contact as much as possible. In terms of pregnant women who have COVID-19, the risk to the newborns/fetus is currently thought to be low, however there is not enough data to draw and clear conclusions at this time. As always, speak to your healthcare provider directly about your concerns.

Is it fair to ask our pregnant surrogate to self-quarantine regardless of her COVID-19 status?

The vast majority of surrogacy contracts forbid the surrogate from taking on unnecessary risks to the pregnancy. However, it is hard to say whether or not participating in self-quarantine when there is no government order or immediate exposure to the virus would qualify as a necessary precaution as defined in the contract. Professionals advise that you consult your lawyer regarding the specifics of your contract, as well as communicating with your surrogate about your concerns.

See below for concerns regarding lost wages due to quarantine.

Who pays for the surrogates lost wages due to COVID-19 quarantine?

The answer to this is generally situation dependent, however we have gathered advice from legal professionals in regards to three situations:

If the surrogate is required to self-quarantine due to a government order or immediate exposure to the coronavirus, the burden of paying for lost wages does not fall on the IPs. This is because the circumstances are outside the control of both the IPs and the surrogate so it falls outside the scope of the surrogacy contract.

If the surrogate wants to self-quarantine due to her own fears / anxieties about the pandemic when there is no government order, the burden of paying for lost wages again does not fall on the IPs, as it is outside the scope of the surrogacy contract.

However, if the surrogate is asked to self-quarantine by the IPs in the absence of a government order, the burden of paying for lost wages does fall on the IPs. 

Either way, please consult your lawyer regarding your specific situation. 

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COVID-19: Canada
Can IVF treatments in Canada go forward right now?

In Canada, provinces have declared states of emergency at different times, and some provinces have also restricted non-essential services. On March 18, 2020, the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) released a communication recommending that all new cycles (inclusive of IUI and IVF) be postponed. Similar to the communication from ASRM, CFAS stated that it will provide an update at least every two weeks. Canadian clinics are very likely to follow this communication and pause all new embryo creation and transfers; most are simply finishing cycles that had already commenced.

When can we expect IVF clinics in Canada to resume normal operation?

In Canada, it is likely that the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) will follow the provincial health guidelines and only change its recommendation that all new cycles be postponed once the states of emergency have been lifted.

I've already signed contracts with a gestational carrier and begun paying the monthly allowance and insurance payment. Do I need to continue these even though we can't schedule a transfer?

Unless there is specific exclusionary language in your contract you are most likely obligated to continue all payments. Speak with your lawyer about your specific obligations - it may be possible to discuss your specific circumstances and amend the contract if needed as long as all parties are in agreement. You should also read through the insurance policy if you have purchased a specific policy for your surrogate and speak to the insurance broker / advisor if needed.

I’m not a Canadian citizen and want to enter the country for the birth of our child. Will I be allowed in?

Even if you're able to secure travel to Canada right now, there are restrictions on the entry of those who are not citizens or permanent residents. NEW: the original law made no exception for parents of US citizens, but new legislation passed on March 26 expanded the definition. This means that:- If you already have a child that is a Canadian citizen with a valid passport, you may be able to enter him / her,  documentation proving this connection, and documentation about the pending birth, to demonstrate that you have a valid and urgent reason to enter the country.
- If your child is not yet born, you may need to wait until after the birth. However, the federal government has been receptive to working directly with the lawyers on a case by case basis. You can also try to use the help of a lawyer  to advocate for the need to arrive before the birth in order to care for the newborn, and due to the 14 days required quarantine.
It is prudent to prepare in advance as much documentation:  a letter from your clinic about the pregnancy,  a letter from your lawyer about the surrogacy agreement,  proof of health insurance for the intended parents and  proof that the intended parents have a place to stay while in Canada. This is a dynamic situation and will continue to change. Canadian legal professionals are advocating for a system to be put in place for international intended parents who are not Canadian citizens to be able to enter into Canada within the next couple of weeks.

Assuming I can reach the hospital, will I be able to attend the birth and take custody of my child?

In Canada, the ability to attend the birth is on a hospital by hospital and case by case basis. For hospital births, we suggest that the intended parents or their counsel make contact with the social worker at the hospital where the surrogate will be delivering, and find out the current policy.  Providing a lawyer’s letter to the hospital has successfully worked to ensure that physical custody of the baby is given to the intended parents.

If I am not able to travel to my child's birth, what are my options?

If you are not able to be there for your child's birth, you must contact your lawyer to fill out appropriate paperwork to appoint a temporary guardian. Professionals in the field have recommend first reaching out to local family or trusted friends. If you don't know anyone in the area that would be able to be a guardian, please reach out to your agency or Men Having Babies for support in finding someone.

If I am not able to travel to take custody of my child, can I ask my surrogate to be the temporary guardian?

No. The consensus among professionals is that it is inappropriate to ask your surrogate to be the temporary guardian, even if she offers to do so. We do not want to put them in uncomfortable situation emotionally, and there may be difficult legal implications as well. This may only be considered as a last-case scenario, so please reach out to your agency or Men Having Babies for support in finding someone else first.

If I entered Canada early in order to avoid the border closing, how long can I stay without further legal steps?

In Canada, the answer to this question depends on the country from where you came.  In most gestational surrogacy situations, visitors to Canada enter on a six month visa, which we hope will provide plenty of time.   

Contributors: Sara Cohen, Fertility Law Canada
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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about MHB's Gay Parenting Assitance Program (GPAP)


GPAP: Stage I
What is Stage I?
Stage I is the journey booster piece of the program that provides prospective parents who qualify based on income and other criteria access to discounts from clinics, agencies, and law firms.
When are applications for Stage I accepted?
Stage I applications are accepted year-round.
What is the income threshold for the program?
The income threshold was set by our board of director in consultation with the donors and service providers that contribute to our program. While we do not divulge our methods for calculating eligible income for assistance into GPAP, we do take into consideration several factors including regional cost of living and age.
Is the application fee of $35 per person refundable?
Because of the time we spend reviewing applications and running them through our eligibility criteria, application fees are non-refundable.
Can I/we apply Stage I discounts towards a clinic and / or agency that I/we have already signed with?
Not likely - most of the clinics and agencies who participate with the GPAP program will not allow existing clients to apply GPAP discounts after signing.
When is the right time to apply?
This is a question that only you can answer. If you are approved for Stage I, you will receive a dated certificate in order to apply for discounts with clinics and / or agencies in our program. Since this is time sensitive, you may want to apply if you plan to start your journey within the next 6 – 18 months.
Why do you ask for ethnicity and race in your application?
As a not-for-profit organization, Men Having Babies receives financial support from individuals, event registrations, as well as grants. Many granting organizations request information regarding demographics of the people that we serve. These questions are based on the same criteria used by the U.S. Census Bureau.
My country is not listed here, what do I do?
To qualify for Stage I applicants need to provide documentation regarding their income and their criminal background (and for Stage II they also need to provide details about assets and credit score). We require the help of a local organization in order to adjust these requirements to each country, to facilitate the communication with the applicants, and to process the documentation once submitted. If we still do not have a partnering organization in your country, please feel free to suggest one and to facilitate the introduction with them so we can make the necessary arrangements.
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GPAP: Stage II
What is Stage II?
Stage II is the direct assistance piece of the program where individuals or couples are selected by the grant committee to receive direct financial assistance and / or to be matched with partnering providers (clinics, agencies, law firms) for services free of charge. Each year we award about $1,000,000 in cash grants and free surrogacy agency, IVF clinic services, and legal finalization / parentage rights services.
When are applications for Stage II accepted?
Stage II are reviewed annually. Eligible Stage I recipients will be invited to apply for Stage II between June-August of each year, and are selected for the program after a months long process.
Do you provide retroactive expense reimbursement?
No, the purpose of this program is to help individuals or couples who would not be able to start this process without some type of assistance. We do not provide any type of retroactive expense reimbursement for any individuals/couples who have already gone through or are currently going through the surrogacy process.
If I/we are already signed up with a clinic and/or agency, will I/we still qualify for Stage II?
You may still be eligibility for some type of assistance through Stage II for any part of your journey that is not yet done or arranged for, such as free legal services (depending on your location, where the baby may be born, and those legal services that we have available through the program). With that said, just as a reminder, we do not provide any type of retroactive expense reimbursement for any individuals/couples who have already gone through or are currently going through the surrogacy process.
How much do I need to self-fund my Stage II journey in order to be considered?
While every situation is different, we do require applications for Stage II to have some money available to contribute to their surrogacy journey (typically no less than 30-40% of total anticipated costs for a US journey).
Why do you ask for current Asset and Liability information?
We ask for this information in order to get a full understanding of your current needs as well as helping you to identify potential financial sources that you may have not already considered. For instance, if you have a mutual fund, can you borrow any amount against that plan? Do you own a second home? If so, is that something you could sell in order to have additional cash on hand.
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