NEW YORK — For the first time in history, the state of New York has made compensational surrogacy legal. The new law went into effect on Monday.
For New York couples like Alex and Kelly Cesare, surrogacy was their first choice to have a family of their own.
“We haven’t found a baby momma yet, but she’s out there,” Kelly Cesare said.
New York was previously one of a handful of states outlawing commercial surrogacy. The new law allows gestational surrogacy on a commercial basis.
Commercial surrogacy is when an intended parent enters a contract with a person who is not related to their embryo and offers financial compensation to have that person give birth to their child.
“Although we count our blessings daily and we are so thankful for all the gifts we have in this world, I’ve known since I was a teenager that carrying a child wouldn’t be an option for me,” Kelly explained.
Kelly has had congenital heart failure since birth. She said she had her first heart transplant when she was 2 ½ years old.
She survived the surgery, only to discover just a few years later that she had childhood cancer. Six months of chemotherapy and extensive treatments led to another miraculous recovery. But at age 11, her heart would fail again.
“I felt totally fine. I had no symptoms, no side effects and they found that my right coronary artery was 90% blocked and I received my second transplant within 10 days — 11 days,” Kelly said.
Her heart condition and medications prevent her from ever having children; so the couple started the journey of surrogacy.
“A lot of these women, they go out there and they are going to carry this baby for nine months for someone else. It’s probably the ultimate gift,” expressed Alex.
The couple says adoption is not out of the picture for them.
“We do want to adopt one day, but it was important for us for our first child to be genetically ours,” Kelly said.
With the help of doctors at Cornell University, they were able to extract Kelly’s matured eggs. Embryologists then determined which ones were healthy and would survive.
“Luckily we were able to get 11 healthy embryos, we had to do genetic testing as well — which was another hurdle just to make sure my congenital heart disease wasn’t passed on to my children,” Kelly said.
Then yet another hurdle happened, the pair discovered surrogacy was illegal in New York.
“It was a bit of a shock, you know a state where they are at the forefront of pushing progressive legislation. It was very much a shock for us,” Alex said.
Because of the legality, their dream was put on hold. The newlyweds started to consider moving their embryos to another state to get the process done.
Then, the state of New York passed the Child-Parent Security Act permitting compensated gestational surrogacy for the first time ever. Effective Feb. 15, gestational surrogacy is legal in New York.
The new state law will allow New York couples to enter a contract with a surrogate who is not genetically related to the embryo. The law includes a surrogates’ bill of rights which provides them with the right to an independent lawyer and comprehensive healthcare.
Currently, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Michigan have laws that ban surrogacy. Indiana and Arizona have strict restrictions on the process.
Dr. Nazca Fontes, the CEO of ConceiveAbilities, called the new law a win for third party reproduction. “Many of our clients have actually tried to or have previously gone the adoption route with or without success. So, this is another step in their journey towards family building,” Fontes said.
Right now, compensation for carries varies anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000. The total cost for the process can cost an intended parent between $100,000 to $150,000.
The company has been recruiting, screening, and matching parents with qualified egg donors and surrogates for 25 years.“So there’s a lot of reasons that people do pursue surrogacy, whether they are same-sex or your traditional heterosexual couple or single or male. This is really just an option in their arsenal to build a family,” Fontes explained.
The Cesare family still hasn’t found their match, but they are hopeful it will happen soon.
“Down the road, there is a possibility that I could need another surgery or another stent or whatever that may be. I think having a very strong partner is the key for me because he is always by my side I know that whatever life brings with my family, he’s my rock and he will always be there,” Kelly said.