Surrogate Parenting Associates, Inc., in Louisville, Ky., says it is "booked well into 1981" for interviews with couples seeking a surrogate. Matching a couple with a surrogate usually takes from 30 to 90 days.
SPA's surrogates must:
Have borne at least one healthy child.
Pass medical tests to insure current good health, and no history of genetically transmitted disorders.
Pass an evaluation by two psychiatrists and one psychologist. (The husband must do the same.)
Agree to abstain from alcohol, drugs and tobacco during the pregnancy.
Agree to terminate parental rights to the child.
With the aid of a computer, SPA will try, if requested, to match physical and cultural characteristics. Also included in the $13,000 to $20,000 fee:
The surrogate's medical expenses and transportation to SPA.
A life insurance policy for the surrogate's family, should she die during the pregnancy, or in childbirth.
A financial arrangement for the child (such as a life insurance policy or a new will), should the waiting couple die before the child is born.
A paternity test on the newlyborn child.
The surrogate's legal fees. (SPA requires that she have her own attorney represent her and review the contract.)
A couple must bring to SPA:
Their marriage license (although SPA is considering accepting single men in special cases).
Lab reports of their blood types.
Semen analysis confirming the husband's fertility.
Physicians' statements about the health of both.
The contract stipulates that the couple must adopt the child, even if it is born with a defect, unless that defect results from "the purposeful negligence" of the surrogate, says SPA attorney Katie Brophy.
"The major legal concern," she says, "is if the surrogate changes her mind. It is possible she could then get custody and the father would have to pay child support."
Attorney Noel Keane, of Dearborn, Mich., charges $3,000 to arrange for a surrogate and to handle adoption. So far as specific requirements for surrogates, he says, "That's up to the couple." (His clients' surrogates have included single women and those who have never had a child before.)
Most couples, Keane says, "look at the surrogate's medical history, educational level, environment, cultural background and appearance."
Couples or single men who contact him, he says, "can expect to have their baby in anywhere from a year and a half to two years.