Choosing a surrogacy friendly lawyer that specializes in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) can often seem like an overwhelmingly difficult task. When considering becoming a surrogate, it is important that you work with a lawyer who specializes in third-party reproduction. Third-party reproduction is a very specific area of law that requires a professional who understands a surrogacy journey and can therefore represent a surrogate’s legal interests such as drafting necessary legal documents, insurance coverage and healthcare options. The first legal phase in which a surrogate will participate is the preparation and signing of a Gestational Carrier Agreement (GCA) between the surrogate and the intended parent(s). Once you co-sign the (GCA) with the intended parent(s), if you then become pregnant, you will participate in the second legal phase of the surrogacy journey: the Court Order phase. The Court Order phase is the legal proceeding in which the intended parent(s) are declared the legal parent(s) of the child or children you carry as their gestational carrier. Taking this into consideration, how do you choose the lawyer who is right for you? More importantly, what questions should you ask to determine the right choice of representation?
Amanda Troxler of TROXLAW, understands the key elements that are essential to every third-party reproduction arrangement and offers suggestions on what a surrogate should ask a lawyer: “When you are interviewing lawyers, you want to choose somebody who specializes in third-party reproduction. You don’t want your personal injury attorney to represent you in surrogacy. You want to make sure that you find somebody who knows what they are doing”. Amanda has been practicing family formation law since 2013 and represents hundreds of intended parents, donors, and surrogates each year. When asked what specific questions a surrogate should ask a lawyer, Amanda suggests, “Ask for their level of experience. How many years have they been practicing? How many surrogates have they represented? Do they typically represent intended parents, or do they typically represent surrogates? Also, a lot of it comes down to personality and who you click with? You want someone you feel comfortable talking to? Can you bring up your concerns with this lawyer? Is this person someone who you feel would advocate on your behalf? If something goes wrong, are they available to help explain the provisions of the contract if something is unclear during the surrogacy? If there is some sort of dispute between the surrogate and the intended parents, whether they be willing to help with anything like that”.
With almost a decade of experience practicing exclusively in third-party reproduction, what exactly drew Amanda to this specific area of law? “I was lucky that I met an attorney who practiced in this area of law through my family law professor. Also, because of my background. Something that is unique about me is that I was raised by my father who is a single gay man which was unusual in the 80s and 90s. Initially, I liked the idea of protecting same-sex families and making sure that they are built in a way that is healthy, that protects everybody involved. As I started to practice, I also became more aware of infertility and became sensitive to matters of infertility as well so I, of course, wanted to help people with infertility”. Amanda understands how challenging it can be for individuals and couples who need assistance in growing their families. In doing so, she acknowledges the essential role of the surrogates who assist them. Once a surrogate has entered negotiations, what should she expect from a lawyer? “You should definitely read the contract carefully! If you have questions write those down, highlight portions of contract. Any good attorney will walk you through the agreements. A surrogate typically shouldn’t be concerned, feeling as if she is carrying the weight of the contract all by herself. The attorney’s role is to make sure that everything is clear for her. You need an attorney who is going to go through everything with her, to point out anything that she should be aware of”.
Most agencies will provide a list of attorneys so that a potential surrogate may interview a variety of lawyers and choose one with whom she feels most comfortable. Don’t be shy to ask important questions from a surrogate’s perspective. Such as, how long does a GCA take from a legal standpoint? Amanda suggests, “A good thing to ask your attorney is what is the turnaround time? You want somebody who is going to be responsive. I always tell people that it really depends on the parties and how quickly they can make themselves available. Every attorney is different in terms of their scheduling. I always tell people that I will let you know the same day, as long as it comes through during business hours. That’s the rule for my firm”.
Amanda prides herself on providing compassionate and knowledgeable support to her clients. Her compassion and knowledge undoubtedly stem from her personal experience in third-party assisted reproduction, having been an egg donor seven times to six different families. One would be pressed to find a lawyer with such an affinity to this area of law. These unselfish acts of kindness and generosity demonstrate her firm commitment to helping intended parents make their dreams of growing a family a reality. “I really adore this field. I feel like it is a vocation. Especially my background, it was destined for me. My experience as an egg donor really changed my perspective on a lot of things. For instance, there’s one family that I donated to. It’s an open donation. That’s been really lovely. The boys are three and five. I have a relationship with them. I see them every so often”.
Today, Amanda also experiences the joy of being a mother to her own child when her beautiful son Desmond who was born in March this year. The birth coincided with the creation of her own law firm TROXLAW situated in Los Angeles, California: “I made the decision during my maternity leave to leave my last firm and start my own firm. The big motivator was my son. I felt that with his birth, I needed more control over my career. I wanted to make my own decisions and run my firm the way I wanted to run it”.
The result speaks for itself. In a short period of time, TROXLAW is fast becoming a flagship firm practicing family formation law. Seated at the helm is a steadfast individual who communicates contracts with patience while taking the time to explain stipulations pertaining to a surrogate, among her other clients. Her experience as an egg donor and the impact she is having on the surrogacy industry today will in time become her legacy.