State-by-State Surrogacy Laws: Surrogacy in Rhode Island
Until fairly recently, Rhode Island did not have any laws concerning surrogacy. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, however, R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-8.1-801 and § 15-8.1-802 govern gestational carrier agreements and surrogate eligibility. § 15-8.1-802 declares gestational surrogacy agreements to be valid if they meet a certain set of criteria, including:
- The agreement is signed by all parties, including spouses if married.
- The agreement is not valid for more than one cycle
- At least one of the Intended Parent is a legal permanent resident of the United States.
- The surrogate must be allowed to make all decisions affecting her own health during pregnancy including whether to consent to multiple embryo transfers or a c-section procedure. She also will choose the location of health care services for her care during pregnancy.
- The agreement is fully executed before embryo transfer.
§ 15-8.1-802 explicitly declares the Intended Parents and not the surrogate as the legal parents of any resulting children with Intended Parents required to take full financial responsibility for the resulting child(ren) immediately upon birth.
§ 15-8.1-801 mandates that potential surrogates cannot enter into a carrier agreement when they are contributing their own gametes unless it is with a direct family member. This inherently restricts traditional surrogacy (where a surrogate uses her own eggs) to circumstances where Intended Parents are direct members of her own family.
The full scope of how to comply with Rhode Island law is best discussed with a qualified attorney. It’s essential that you get specific legal advice from a surrogacy-specializing professional. Always discuss your unique situation with an expert who can advise you on how to proceed with surrogacy in Rhode Island. If you need help finding a lawyer who is familiar with surrogacy, we have a surrogacy-specializing attorney directory.
Is there a limit on compensation for surrogacy in Rhode Island?
§ 15-8.1-802 requires that surrogates and Intended Parents negotiate surrogacy compensation on a good faith basis, however, there is no prescribed limit to how much a surrogate may receive by statute.
Can Intended Parents match with a surrogate without an agency in Rhode Island? Can surrogates find Intended Parents independently?
In Rhode Island and everywhere commercial surrogacy exists, there’s no requirement that you use a surrogate agency. There are a myriad of reasons why independent journeys (forgoing a surrogacy agency) are popular options.
Are there laws regarding Intended Parent eligibility in Rhode Island? Are LGBTQ+ parents treated equal to that of opposite-sex partners?
All peoples regardless of sexual orientation, marital status, or individual identity are treated equally under the law in the state of Rhode Island. There are no additional hurdles members of the LGBTQ+ community need to go through to establish parentage or to explore surrogacy in Rhode Island.
Pre-birth orders are widely available in nearly all circumstances as long as the gestational agreement guidelines and the eligibility requirements laid out by statue are followed.
Great! Always begin by considering whether or not you’re qualified. Start with our surrogate quiz to check to see if you meet the general eligibility requirements.
Here’s an overview of some of the qualifications you’d be expected to meet under § 15-8.1-801:
- Surrogates must be over the age of 21.
- Surrogates must have completed a thorough medical evaluation to determine current fitness for pregnancy. This includes an evaluation of Body Mass Index (BMI) and a detailed discussion on current health issues if applicable.
- Surrogates must have completed a mental health evaluation and be deemed stable enough for surrogacy.
In addition, most clinics require that surrogates:
- have had at least one biological child of their own.
- do not use illegal drugs/tobacco and are willing to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.
- have had no more than 3 caesarean births.
If you meet the above requirements, you may be qualified to become a surrogate. You can start matching with potential parents. As you begin the matching process and start interviewing Intended Parents, make sure you are transparent about your core beliefs on topics ranging from vaccines to termination to your envisioned birth plan.
After you find your perfect match (interview more than one candidate if you aren’t positive you found “the one”), you’ll finalize legal contracts. You will be represented by an attorney that your Intended Parents pay for (but you select). Then you’re ready for embryo transfer. Afterwards, hopefully you’ll soon see a positive pregnancy test!
If you’d like more of a step-by-step overview of the process, we’ve got 8 steps to take.
Want even more info to make sure you’re ready? Check out our requirements overview.
Are you an Intended Parent searching for a Surrogate (or vice versa!) in Rhode Island?
You’re in luck. Surrogacy Place is a self-matching platform designed to facilitate conversations between all parties interested in surrogacy. You can match based on your specific preferences, location, surrogacy experience and more. If you would like to find a Rhode Island-based surrogate, we have search by location tools.
Creating an account on Surrogacy Place is free if you’re a potential surrogate, while Intended Parents need to pay a small site access fee. Start by creating your account, then browse through Surrogacy Place’s database of potentials.
Let’s talk about some of the biggest advantages of doing an independent journey
Match times for Intended Parents can be significantly shorter when doing an independent journey. Match times at agencies are often over a year, sometimes 18 months+! Additionally, agencies charge a fortune for their matching services (some agencies are currently charging north of $100,000!). Some of these same agencies encourage surrogates to accept a lower comp vs. the national average. When Intended Parents save on matching fees, many can often afford to pay surrogates the compensation they’re looking for, not what’s on the agency price sheet.
Going with an agency is also not without risk: just because a surrogate is an agency database doesn’t mean they will be medically or otherwise cleared. Some of the less ethical agencies will even put surrogates that fail medical evaluations back in their pool of potential surrogates. There’s only one way to be certain a surrogate is medically and otherwise fit to become a gestational carrier and that is to go through the formal vetting process by a Reproductive Endocrinologist and a surrogacy-experienced attorney who knows the local requirements.
Intended Parents: here’s some of the various costs you can expect to pay for surrogacy.