Adoption, Surrogacy and Assisted Reproduction

We are dedicated to assisting you in building your family through adoption, surrogacy and assisted reproduction technologies.Our experienced team of attorneys and paralegals have been involved in over 1500 cases spanning over 30 years, in Pennsylvania and across the United States, plus those involving foreign adoptions, visa and citizenship issues. We travel throughout Pennsylvania to work with clients, appear in county courts, and facilitate adoptions to comply with the Interstate Compact for placements anywhere in the United States.We are prepared to litigate when necessary and have succeeded in litigation in all levels of Pennsylvania’s court system, including the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Our services are available to meet a wide variety of family planning issues including voluntary or involuntary terminations, post-adoption communications agreements, adoptions for grandparents, step-parents, married couples, single parents, same sex parents, as well as surrogacy contracts, donor agreements, co-parenting agreements and other client needs, we are ready to help. We are sensitive to the diversity of our clients and pursue their goals with the highest ethical standards.

Adoption is a traditional family building procedure. We begin with respect for the individuals including expectant mothers, fathers, putative fathers, their families and the adopting parents.In private adoptions we help you assemble the services to identify, support and complete your adoption plan, which may include counseling, home studies, compliance with the Interstate Compact for cases involving two or more States, and a wide range of adoption laws.With timely advice about the adoption process, the hospital stay, the termination of parental rights and the adoption, birthparents and adopting parents feel secure and informed. Our access to and knowledge of the adoption laws across the country help to make adoption planning more successful. We promote an open exchange of medical history information, reimbursement of living and medical expenses, and ultimately, open adoption with private and court approved post adoption communication agreements in appropriate cases.In agency adoptions, our services are similarly available to support and guide both Pennsylvania and out of state agencies with adoption laws of both states and resolve conflicts of law when needed.

Surrogacy and assisted reproduction opportunities to build a family have expanded options for individuals and couples.Pennsylvania recognizes surrogacy and assisted reproduction technologies as lawful family building methods.Careful guidance is necessary since Pennsylvania does not have a statute governing the relationships with surrogates and intended parents. Surrogacy and assisted reproduction contracts are vital to assure and enforce the legal rights of the parties.These contracts identify how the parties will plan for the pregnancy, how the pregnancy will be managed by the surrogate, allow for participation by the intended parents, govern the method and procedure for reimbursements and payments to the surrogate, and ultimately obtaining pre-birth orders to have the birth certificate in the name of the intended parents. When the opportunity involves individuals who do not live in the same state, our access to experienced counsel helps resolve the conflicts of laws, especially in states that prohibit surrogacy.

Other contracts involve sperm donors, egg donors and embryo donors. Donation agreements must define many elements, including how and when the donated genetic material can be utilized. Additionally, co-parenting agreements between individuals who are not married are recommended prior to birth. Adoption is recommended in appropriate cases for the spouse or partner not delivering the child.Contracts with sperm, egg and embryo centers may also affect the legal rights of the parties and should be carefully reviewed by an experienced attorney.These agreements, like surrogacy agreements, often contain important sections to address contingencies such as marriage, divorce and even the death of the parties.Preserving genetic material, such as sperm, eggs and embryos, all for use at a later time, also has estate planning issues to address family building needs going forward, and is often considered for medical conditions, service in the armed forces and similar events affecting families.

Following the 2014 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision of Whitewood v. Wolf, there has been a significant increase in LGBT adoptions and surrogacy opportunities as a means of family building between gay and lesbian couples and partners.These family building opportunities can include private adoptions, step-parent adoptions, second parent adoptions and through the use of assisted reproduction, sperm donation and egg donation.We assist our clients with the preparation of various contracts to protect their rights before, throughout and after the process.These contracts can include sperm and egg donation agreements, surrogacy contracts, co-parenting agreements, post-adoption communication agreements, pre-birth orders and adoptions following the birth of the child, and protect all parties in the event of a variety of contingencies, such as marriage, divorce, separation, and even the death of one of the parties.We use our expertise and knowledge in the area of family building to assist you through what otherwise may be a complicated and uncertain process with compassion, understanding and appreciation.

Our family building section is led by Stuart S. Sacks, a Fellow in the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, and a founding member of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys.He has worked with adoption agencies, private adoption birthparents and adopting parents in Pennsylvania, Interstate, and international adoption placements, including successfully litigating cases through our appellate courts, helped author Act 101 of 2010 to authorize open adoption records and post adoption contact agreements, and continues to work with the Legislature to improve our adoption laws. He has also written numerous materials and lectured for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute in Pennsylvania on multiple occasions to attorneys and judges throughout Pennsylvania and at national conferences on adoption and surrogacy laws.

Deborah E. Crum has been an associate of Smigel, Anderson & Sacks, and has worked in our family building section, for over five years.Deborah is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and has published an article in the Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law entitled “The Uniform Adoption Act: A Public Health Perspective.”In addition to our family building section, she also focuses her practice in our family law, estate planning and federal gift and estate tax sections.

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