State-by-State Surrogacy Laws: Surrogacy in Tennessee
At present, Tennessee has not taken a legislative stance on surrogacy. This puts Tennessee in the category of surrogacy being neither prohibited or sanctioned by the state. This is not unusual, legislators are still catching up with advances in assisted reproduction. Tennessee is viewed as surrogacy-accessible for specific categories of Intended Parents; it’s generally safe to precede with surrogacy in the state though establishing parentage for children born from surrogacy can be more complicated depending on the Intended Parent(s)’ genetic relationship to the child. It’s not recommended that Intended Parents pursue surrogacy in Tennessee when neither parent is genetically related to the child (e.g. in the case of a donated embryo).
While not prohibited, traditional surrogacy is not advised as traditional surrogacy contracts are considered unenforceable in the state. This makes traditional surrogacy inherently more risky for both parties. If you are considering traditional surrogacy, you will need to discuss the risks with a licensed attorney.
The reasons Intended Parents decide to explore surrogacy are varied and include past-pregnancy complications, unexplained infertility, health issues where pregnancy is a contradiction, functional issues with uterus, LGBTQ+ identity, recurrent miscarriages and failures for embryos to implant. Why do surrogates want to carry children for others? Their reasons are also varied, but the overwhelming majority do so because they feel a sincere desire to help those that can’t have families of their own without assistance. The financial upside is a bonus for doing something amazing for others.
Intended Parents begin their pursuit of surrogacy with a consultation with a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Most Intended Parents entering surrogacy arrangements will have their embryos created first, well before matching. Both surrogates and Intended Parents will need to follow the advice of a qualified attorney when proceeding past the matching phase. If you don’t already have an attorney, you can find contact info by state in our own attorney directory where we list professionals that specifically handle surrogacy cases.
It is mandatory for all parties involved in negotiating and finalizing surrogacy contracts have their own independent legal representation. The Intended Parents are responsible for the payment of their own attorney’s fees as well as any and all legal expenses incurred by the surrogate. Surrogacy agreements are comprehensive and encompass a wide variety of potential scenarios as life as well as an acknowledgement that pregnancy can be unpredictable. Always seek guidance from an attorney so that you fully understand your rights throughout the process.
In Tennessee, is compensated surrogacy legal?
Yes. As there are no laws regulating surrogacy, there are no laws which address surrogacy compensation. Gestational carriers in the state are free to choose their own base compensation and general terms.
Do I need to use a surrogacy agency?
Nope. Using a surrogacy agency is entirely up to you. Agencies may be useful to some, but they are not a required expense of surrogacy. Using an agency is not a guarantee that your journey will be successful or that you will achieve a better match or result. Going independent without a surrogacy agency is growing in popularity for many reasons. There are loads of folks that find managing their own journey preferable to being tethered to a particular agency and their practices and limited pool of available clients in their databases.
What are the some of the restrictions on Intended Parent eligibility in Tennessee?
Pre-birth orders are possible when both parents are genetically related to the child. When an intended father is genetically related (e.g. when using an egg donor), only he will be granted a pre-birth order establishing his parentage; the other parent must complete a post-birth adoption. Single women or Lesbian individuals/couples using a donated egg should avoid surrogacy in Tennessee. Gay men who do not share a genetic connection to their child(ren) should also avoid surrogacy in the state.
Emergency reproductive healthcare access in Tennessee is severely restricted
Tennessee enacted a “heart beat bill” in 2022 limiting abortions to very narrow circumstances e.g. fetuses with no detectable heartbeats and “abortions necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman”. There are no protections to prevent disability or severe harm (mentally or physically) to a pregnant woman. These restrictions may increase her risk of preventable death from unexpected pregnancy complications. Surrogates that are residents of Tennessee and intended parents should discuss contingency plans that may include travel and what to do if serious pregnancy complications arise.
What requirements must surrogates meet to be considered qualified?
The typical requirements to keep in mind can be found in our surrogates requirements quiz. If you’re a surrogate, consider taking it to see how you measure up.
Generally speaking, prospective surrogates should meet these requirements:
- Your medical history includes only complications-free pregnancies, including no symptoms of post-partum depression.
- You are between the ages of 21-44.
- You own your residence or have long-term housing.
- You are finished building your own family and would have no regrets if future children of your own were off the table.
- You are financially secure and not receiving any government assistance.
- You are willing to take hormones and required medications as prescribed by your Intended Parents’ Reproductive Endocrinologist and by your own OB-GYN.
- You are smoke and drug free and will not drink alcohol or ingest harmful substances while pregnant.
Remember, even if you’ve had easy pregnancies and the desire to become a surrogate, it doesn’t mean you can become one. All women interested in becoming surrogates must be professionally evaluated by a licensed Reproductive Endocrinologist whose standards are higher than when evaluating women that want to conceive naturally. If you do pass your Intended Parent(s)’ Reproductive Endocrinologist’s clinical evaluation – congrats, the next step is to finalize surrogacy contracts before moving onto embryo transfer. After embryo transfer, the exciting hopeful phase of a successful surrogacy journey begins.
Surrogates: here’s some additional information on steps you should expect to follow.
You can match directly – no need to use a surrogacy agency!
Those interested in undergoing an independent journey can use Surrogacy Place to self-match. There are many advantages to going indy. Obviously there are cost savings, but you also have access to a larger pool of potential candidates and will likely experience a significantly shorter wait time for matching. Surrogacy Place has search-by fields that allow Intended Parents and surrogates to find each other to start potential match conversations directly within our site. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can freely match with potentials using specific parameters including location.
Deciding to not use an agency and directly manage a surrogacy journey is the right conclusion for many surrogates and Intended Parents alike. For Intended Parents that are apprehensive about self-managing the process, surrogacy-experienced attorneys (who will not charge the very expensive fees agencies charge for their services!) do nearly all of the required administrative work. Many attorneys will happily provide their clients with a list of required items needed to complete a successful journey. Attorneys understand the complexity of surrogacy and are there to provide you with the information you need.
Surrogates have very specific reasons why they can prefer independent journeys.
When you’re ready to explore potential matches, create a profile on Surrogacy Place. Surrogates can join for free. If you’re an Intended Parent, you will pay a small access fee in order to use most of the site’s features including messaging. Visit Surrogacy Place’s sign-up page.
Need info from a different state? We compiled info from all 50 states. Check out our guide.