For couples who have fertility issues, a surrogacy arrangement has become a valid option in the United States. A surrogate carries the child for the couple or individual who cannot. This person can have a biological relationship to the baby they are carrying, through the donation of an egg. If the sperm and egg are donated by other people, usually the prospective parents, the surrogate is not genetically related to the child in any sense. Both types of surrogacy can create serious legal issues pertaining to child custody and parental rights.
Arizona couple, Alan and Alicia Lundgren, wanted a child together after being married, but, Alicia was unable to carry a pregnancy. A friend of Alicia’s mentioned that she was thinking about becoming a surrogate and the two agreed that she would act in this capacity for the Lundgren’s. Alicia, Alan and the friend were cleared physically and psychologically by a fertility clinic and were then advised to consult with an attorney. They entered into a gestational carrier agreement and the couples sperm and egg were used to impregnate the friend. As part of the friend’s compensation, they allowed her to live in their home, paid for her medical insurance and costs as well as gave her a credit card for personal use. The Lundgren’s claim that they treated the friend like a member of the family in every sense.
A few months into the pregnancy, the friend began acting strange in relation to medical decisions for her and the baby. After she was confronted about the strange behavior by the Lundgren’s, she left the home. They spoke to her for a while and tried to get her to sign an agreement terminating her parental rights, which she refused to do. Then, contact ceased completely. Now, they do not even know where she is or where she will have the baby when the time comes. A news organization contacted the friend and she stated that she intends to give the baby to the Lundgren’s when it is born but chose to end her relationship with them for other reasons.
Unfortunately, the Lundgren’s do not have a lot of options at this point. Surrogacy agreements are unenforceable in the State of Arizona, even though there are guidelines for them in place. If a parent has no biological ties to the child, he or she has no legal recourse. If the parent does have a biological relationship with the child, as in this case, he or she can go to court to enforce their parental rights. There is no guarantee as to what the court will decide in this type of action.
If you have a family law issue that you would like to discuss, call the Scottsdale, Arizona area attorneys at Nirenstein Garnice at (480)351-4804 for a consultation today.