State-by-State Surrogacy Laws: Surrogacy in Washington
Surrogacy has a long history in Washington state, though compensation for surrogacy was prohibited until January 2019 when compensation restrictions changed with an amendment to the Washington Uniform Parentage Act. RCW 26.26A.700 through 26.26A.785 provided welcomed oversight on surrogacy agreements and arrangements in the Evergreen state. Some of the new provisions included surrogate medical and mental health consults, the requirement that at least one party to a surrogacy agreement be a resident of WA state, and the assertion that a surrogate’s legal fees must be covered by the Intended Parent(s). Surrogates in Washington are limited to a maximum of two surrogacy journeys via statute. RCW 26.26A.715asserts that as long as legal provisions are met, gestational surrogates have no claim with respect to parentage while Intended Parent(s) must immediately assume all financial responsibility for any resulting child(ren). Surrogates may dissolve a surrogacy agreement under her own discretion prior to an embryo transfer, or if a transfer does not result in a pregnancy.
Surrogacy agreements are considered enforceable in Washington, though there are key rights a surrogate maintains throughout the process. Regardless of what may be stipulated in a surrogacy contract, a surrogate has the sole right to make all decisions regarding her own healthcare during pregnancy and with respect to termination. Before moving forward with surrogacy, Intended Parents and surrogates must make sure they are on the same page with how to handle unexpected complications and what they want a potential surrogacy journey to look like. This means having hard conversations about issues like abortion and under what circumstances termination may or may not be appropriate.
Traditional surrogacy (where a surrogate uses her own eggs and undergoes the embryo creation process via intrauterine insemination) is called “genetic surrogacy” when discussed within the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). RCW 26.26A.710 covers eligibility for both gestational and genetic surrogacy, though there are also unique requirements for traditional surrogacy in the state. Traditional (genetic) surrogacy is legal and practiced without many extra restrictions, though you will need an attorney to discuss genetic surrogacy with you and how to comply with Washington law. Pre-birth orders are not available for traditional surrogacy, while they are widely available for gestational journeys occurring in Washington.
It’s imperative that anyone pursuing surrogacy in Washington or elsewhere does so only under the guidance of a qualified attorney. If you are looking for an attorney to represent you or merely to discuss what surrogacy entails, you can use Surrogacy Place’s attorney directory. We have a list of professionals that have years of direct experience handling surrogacy cases.
If you’re contemplating becoming a surrogate for the first time, or if you’re an Intended Parent who’s uncertain about whether surrogacy is right for you, researching the surrogacy process can be intimidating. Discussions with a competent attorney are invaluable so that you have a clear understanding of what to expect.
Is commercial surrogacy for legal in Washington?
Yes! Thanks to laws signed by Washington governor Jay Inslee in 2018, there are no restrictions on surrogacy compensation for traditional or gestational surrogates. As a result of the surrogacy-friendly legislative framework, Washington is among the top places to undergo surrogacy.
Can you match with a surrogate or an Intended Parent(s) without using a surrogacy agency?
Yes. Washington does not require the use of a surrogacy agency to manage your journey. In fact, no states do. It is never a requirement to ensure a successful journey. There are many reasons you might prefer to do surrogacy on an independent basis. SurrogacyPlace.com can help you self-match. Read more below on why an independent journey (without a surrogacy agency) might be the right choice for you.
Are there any restrictions on who can become an Intended Parent in Washington?
No. The amended versions of the Washington Uniform Parentage Act broadly allow any Intended Parents equal access to pre-birth parentage orders regardless of sexual orientation/gender expression, marital status, and biological connection to their child(ren). As long as legal parameters are met, pre-birth orders are available to all including members of the LGBTQ+ community, international parents, those using egg/sperm/embryo donors, and single men/women.
If you’ve made the decision to carry on behalf of strangers or family members – that’s great! Do note that there are rigorous health and lifestyle standards, however, that you must meet to be considered. Even if your past pregnancies have been medically uneventful, you may not meet more rigorous standards that are set for the highest probability of a safe pregnancy.
We put together a surrogacy-qualifications quiz to help you learn more.
Here’s some of the lifestyle and medical considerations you should keep in mind when deciding to become a surrogate in Washington:
- You are not taking medications including anti-depressants that are not be safe for you to discontinue for the purposes of surrogacy.
- While age requirements depend on health/relationship to Intended Parents (e.g. if you are a direct relative), most surrogates must be between the ages of 21-40.
- You have carried at least one pregnancy to term and have had no more than 3 c-sections.
- You are willing to share your past medical records and will take medications as prescribed.
- You had no significant complications during all your previous pregnancies.
- You are or have raised your own child in your own home.
- You have a healthy BMI, as determined by a doctor. This is generally < 32.
- You are not a drug or tobacco user, and you must not receive any tattoos or body piercings within one year of starting surrogacy.
If you meet the qualifications above and any others as determined by a Reproductive Endocrinologist and licensed attorney, you can be a surrogate. If you feel you meet the requirements, you can start matching with potential Intended Parents. SurrogacyPlace.com enables our registered users to self-match on profile specifics including type of carrier (e.g. gestational or genetic), state of residence, attitudes about vaccines, views on abortion, and more.
After interviewing potential matches and deciding on the right fit, surrogates then go through clinic-directed medical screenings. If a surrogate is cleared medically, surrogacy agreements are finalized and signed by all parties. Once an agreement is done and all legal requirements are met, an embryo will be transferred (in the case of gestational surrogacy) or, under a traditional journey, an embryo will be created via IUI. With good luck and sticky vibes, a pregnancy will result!
Visit our gestational surrogacy steps-you-should-expect guide for an overview on the process.
Finding your surrogate in Washington
SurrogacyPlace.com facilitates direct matching of surrogates and Intended Parents through self-populated profiles. Surrogates and Intended Parent(s) provide detailed information about themselves to help find the right fit for a surrogacy journey. Registration is free for surrogates, while Intended Parent(s) are billed a small access fee. Create a surrogate or Intended Parent profile to start seeing potential matches.
Why you should consider doing an independent surrogacy journey in Washington
Saving money is a common reason; Intended Parents can expect significant savings when they decide not to pay expensive agency matching fees. Some agencies charge north of $100,000 for matching and managing a surrogacy journey! Even with high fees, some surrogates are encouraged to take lower levels of compensation while agencies are pocketing large amounts of money. When Intended Parents save on matching fees, they can often afford to give a surrogate her desired compensation level. This can be a win for everyone.
There’s also shorter wait times for Intended Parents, as well as, the ability to see multiple potentials vs the 1-2 profiles an agency is willing to share. Some surrogates believe they will be taken advantage of without an agency – this is a risk whether you go with an agency or do surrogacy independently unless you have a qualified attorney on your team. A qualified attorney can guide all parties on the right way to do surrogacy ethically and responsibility. No agency is needed.
Many surrogates in Washington and around the country prefer to match independently. Here are some top reasons surrogates go indy.
If this is your first time as an Intended Parent, you probably have a lot of questions about how much surrogacy costs. If that’s you, you can refer to our “How much is surrogacy going to cost me?” guide.
Looking for surrogacy regulations in other states? Please see our new surrogacy by state guidelines hub.