CoVid-19 Entry & Exit for US Surrogacy Births
The following summary is based on two US industry roundtable held in March 2020 with a range of US experts’
Expert Panellists: Alison Wilson (Psychologist); Rich Vaughn IFLG; Dr Eve Feinberg, Northwestern Fertility and Reproductive Medicine; Sarah Paige ART RISK; Steve Snyder, IARC; Said Daneshmand SDFC; Jennifer White, Colorado Surrogacy; Wendie Wilson, Gifted Journeys; Dean Hutchison Circle Surrogacy
Your IVF clinic may be delaying your cycle or embryo transfer, based on recently released American Society of Reproductive Medicine advice to US IVF clinics (19 March 2020). Not all US IVF clinics are following these guidelines
- Suspend new treatment cycles, including ovulation induction, intrauterine inseminations, in vitro fertilization (IVF) including retrievals and frozen embryo transfers.
- Strongly consider cancellation of all embryo transfers whether fresh or frozen.
- Continue to care for patients who are currently “in-cycle” or who require urgent stimulation and cryopreservation.
- Minimize in-person interactions and increase utilization of telehealth.
Preliminary studies from China show no evidence that if a surrogate was infected with Co-Vid-19 she would pass it on to the child she births.
Additional Time Off Work for Your Surrogate
Some intended parents may want their surrogate to take additional time off work or work from home. The former may incur significant additional surrogate compensation. The US new Families First CoronaVirus Response Act may cover some of these additional costs, but the associated red tape is likely to be significant.
Early entry to US for births
Some intended parents have chosen to arrive weeks or months earlier than their birth, to beat travel bans. This means many will outstay their 90 day ESTA tourist visa. Such cases will need to apply to the US CIS department. However the US CIS department is running on skeleton staff/ only open for emergencies currently. Applications for extensions are referred to as ‘Satisfactory Departure extensions’ and are valid for an additional 30 days. You should apply for this extension before your 90 day visa expires.
Bans on Entry/ Facilitating entry to the US
This link provides updates on which nationalities are unable to enter the US https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html. Your attorney can write a letter to your airline or other authority stating your situation to support reasons to travel, including any supporting documents (eg pre-birth orders; surrogacy contract, attaching affidavits from doctor declaring the IP is the genetic parent). IPs are advised to keep copies of these letters printed and saved on devices and the cloud for access..
Some airlines (eg Qantas, jetstar) have cancelled international flights until end May but it may be possible to book travel via carriers such as American Airlines
IP & Support Person Entry to Hospital for US Births
Many US hospitals are making it far more difficult for foreign (and some interstate) intended parents to enter US hospital premises and in particular to be present in the birthing suite. Hospitals are often insisting on 2 week quarantine measures for foreign IPs.
Surrogacy attorneys local to the hospital should approach hospitals with a special consideration. IPs should remain calm and personally approach hospital authorities with their situation and any evidence of self-isolation. Hospitals tend to take personal approaches quite sympathetically. If you are not able to be present for the birth, you will be given custody of your child(ren) as soon as they are stable enough to be discharged.
US current hospital policy may not allow your surrogate to have a support person present in the birthing suite, in the interests of minimising close contact.
Birth Plans/ Temporary Guardianship
You should have alternative plans in case direct flights become difficult to arrange or quarantine periods apply. This may mean travelling earlier than you planned to and/or re-routing your journey.
As a plan B, organise for a local caregiver to take care of the child. That can be a local friend or family member or a paid caregiver. If none of these are possible, some agencies will step in and provide care. (eg, check this podcast episode.) US surrogacy professionals have form a network throughout the United States to step in and provide care for a newborn if required.
You may need to instigate formal or informal guardianship arrangements if you cannot travel for some weeks post birth. Legal guardianship arrangements differ state by state. Your surrogate can be an obvious choice as a temporary guardian, however even if they proactively offer, it is important that your surrogate undertake psychological screening before being tasked with temporary guardianship. If your surrogate lives in a state with post-birth legal parentage, it is your surrogate who would need to sign any guardianship orders immediately post birth.
Stand-by guardianship (a concept introduced at the heights of AIDS crisis) could be discussed with your surrogacy attorney. It may not require a court order. These need to be defined by a triggering event (in this case CoVid-19).
Temporary foster carers are being organised by some surrogacy agencies (outside the formal foster system) to care for newborns where their parents are delayed in countries which have banned all international travel (eg Spain).
It can also be possible for a carer/guardian of your child to be awarded a Power of Attorney to commence the US passport application process.
Tips to facilitate US Passports/Leaving the US/ Self Quarantine
- Many US government departments, including the US Passport office are currently on skeleton staff and dealing only with emergencies. This will mean delays to processing of US passports for all applicants, including newborns.
- If you are able to concurrently apply for a passport for your home country, you should do so online.
- Children born to foreigners via surrogacy in the US are currently being denied passage to any European country with their intended parents
- Plead your case to authorities (embassy, Country State Dept.)
Ways to Schedule an emergency US passport appointment
- (Only available in San Fran, Seattle, Los Angeles)
- Obtain a letter from a US pediatrician regarding child’s high risk of exposure to COVID-19 if they remain in US
- Complete US passport application as normal https://pptform.stat
- Have proof of international travel within 72 hours
- Ensure you have original notarized consent from surrogate
Once you have done the above
- Try to schedule appointment by calling National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 Monday- Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm Eastern Time, or on Saturdays, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Eastern Time.
- Call 202-647-4000 outside of these hours
Once In Your Home Country
- Many countries are asking arrivals and their infants to self-Quarantine on their return to their home country. This applies to Australians for example.
Seek advice from your US attorney or surrogacy agency. If you or your surrogate need counselling, Growing Families can refer you to a range of well qualified professionals. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org