Citizenship & Passports
All babies born through surrogacy in the United States have entitled to US citizenship and passport themselves. They will have an American birth certificate (certificate of live birth) and unless separate adoption procedures or court orders overrule this, will show the surrogate as the ‘mother’ on the birth certificate, and (usually) the intended father who provided the sperm as the ‘father’.
In some cases depending on the relative US State laws, it may be necessary for a pre-birth judgement to be obtained regarding the actual paternity, especially when the surrogate is married. This is because some relevant state laws dictate that the husband of the woman giving birth should automatically be recognised as the ‘father’. Another way to establish paternity is a post-birth judgement. It is important to explore which option is correct for your situation by seeking local legal advice well before delivery.
Obtaining a US Passport
Once you’ve obtained the preliminary paperwork from the relevant local authority, you can then head along the way of obtaining a US passport.
To obtain a US passport for your child, you must first have obtained the relevant paperwork from the birth hospital, which they prepare for the ultimate issuance of your child’s formal birth certificate. This paperwork is sent to either the relevant local authority or State capital (once they have the paternity orders if relevant) and it is paramount that you work with the hospital in advance, so that they speed up this process as soon as your child is born so that everything happens within days, not the usual weeks.
You will need a photograph of your child with their eyes open (not so easy), facing directly at the camera with a white background (oh and whilst not wearing either a hat or sunglasses either). A digital shot is best as it can be resized appropriately by a developer to further fit within the guidelines, and more than one copy of the same image can be produced quickly at the same time. Depending on your timing you may try to stand over your baby who is lying on a white-sheet bed in the hospital, or head to a post office where you’d hope they’d appreciate the difficulty of it all and take a few goes of getting that perfect snapshot.
If you are an overseas based intended parent and planning to leave the USA before 6 weeks post-birth, you may need to utilise an Expediting service. These services will turn successful applications around within a week. These companies’ are usually in major cities such as Washington, Dallas, San Francisco, etc. and you will need to have the relevant paperwork approved by a local postal office (usually) before couriering the completed application over to the regional office.
Usually, both parents from the birth certificate are needed to be present at the authorised accepting office (post office) to prove that both consent to the application of the child’s passport. Check out the conditions of the expediting service. You can provide written authority from the other parent (usually the surrogate) at times, especially when she may still be in hospital recovering from the birth.
Expediting services include: http://www.americanpassport.com ; and http://www.visa4you.net/child-passport-1.htm. You will find very detailed instructions on the website.
In some of the US processes, you will need paperwork witnessed by the US equivalent of a Justice of the Peace, called a Notary Public, and they are useful for having documents authenticated such as when the surrogate gives permission for the application for a passport, baby to travel etc. In California at least, they can be found in US Post Offices, or the sub-outlets of these (usually privately owned).