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NEW YORK — It’s a new era for New Yorkers looking to use a gestational surrogate to start or grow a family.

The 1986 Baby M case in New Jersey, when a biological surrogate tried to keep the child, had a lasting effect in the Empire State. For decades, paid surrogacy was illegal in New York, but that all changed this week.

“There will be a good opportunity for intended parents to have surrogates who are nearby them in New York,” attorney Victoria Ferrara said. She founded Worldwide Surrogacy in Connecticut and has begun the process of expanding to New York.

New Yorkers Andrew Kabatchnick and Leah Marx struggled for years to conceive, so they turned to a gestational surrogate to start a family. In 2017, they were paired with a woman out-of-state, because it was illegal in New York.

When Marx held her daughter Sophie for the first time, she described it as “just so surreal, just a moment we had waited so long for.”

While Kabatchnick and Marx’s daughter was born in Alabama, New York parents will now have the option of finding someone close to home. It makes attending doctor’s appointments and the birth much easier.

“It creates a lot of opportunity for women who have always thought of becoming surrogates,” added Ferrara.

New York’s new law is expected to ensure strong protections for both surrogates and parents. Applicants are screened for mental and physical health. The embryo cannot be related to the surrogate.

Also, LGBTQ and non-biological parents will be recognized as legal parents before the baby is even born.

Morry Corcoran is on her third gestational surrogacy journey.

“Each time I’ve done a surrogacy, I have done it for a gay couple,” she said.

And while surrogates can earn up to $60,000, Corcoran said surrogacy shouldn’t be done just for the money.

“I will always reflect fondly on being able to help start their families,” Corcoran said.

As some New Yorkers look to begin this process, there can be financial barriers. From start to finish, it can cost about $150,000.

“It’s sort of the hard truth that it’s an expensive process and it might not be for everybody,” Andrew Kabatchnick said.

But when Andrew and Leah hold their daughter Sophie, it feels priceless.