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Let the experts at ConceiveAbilities guide you through all the legalities of surrogacy, egg donation and adoption.

ConceiveAbilities offers a wide range of legal services to bring children into the lives of Intended Parents and to provide the best and strongest legal protections for them. Meg Ledebuhr, our Director of Legal Services and Client Advocacy, brings substantial professional experience and expertise, as well as a unique personal insight to both adoption and fertility law.

As a part of the Match Team's integrated approach, Meg develops a legal strategy tailored to each match based on very specific and individualized state laws and criteria. She reviews all contracts and consent forms for Intended Parents and oversee all legal aspects of their journey. And most importantly, Meg works closely with all parties to ensure they abide by the correct laws and procedures of the applicable jurisdiction so that Intended Parents may bring their children home without issue. Having Meg on staff ensures an efficient family building journey for everyone involved.

Meg’s services go beyond our unique specializations at ConceiveAbilities. Her credentials qualify her to manage not only surrogacy and egg donation matters, but also sperm donation, co-maternity and embryo distribution agreements as well as adoption law. Whether or not you’re working with ConceiveAbilitites to build your family, Meg is here to assist you in every step of your legal process.

“The legal landscape is constantly changing and I work with my clients to provide them with the best possible legal outcomes. I can help you navigate through the laws surrounding family building so that you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your family has legal security.”

Assisted Reproductive Technology Law

Gestational Surrogacy

A Gestational Surrogate Agreement is a contract between Intended Parents, the Surrogate and her partner/spouse, if any. These agreements detail the parties' rights, obligations, intentions and expectations in connection with the surrogacy arrangement. It also addresses location of delivery, future contact between the parties, insurance (both health and life), payment of medical bills, liability for medical complications, and Intended Parents' presence during doctor's visits and at delivery. Financial considerations such as the Surrogate’s compensation and expenses, including lost wages, legal fees, childcare and maternity clothes are also addressed. Meg provides you with a properly executed surrogacy agreement, customized to your unique circumstances and the legal requirements of the state where your surrogate resides.

Egg Donation

Egg Donation is a form of assisted reproductive technology in which a woman provides her eggs to Intended Parents for use in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure (with either the Intended Mother or a gestational surrogate carrying the fetus) with the intent that the Intended Parents will become the legal parents of the child. Because each egg donation arrangement is unique, Meg will draft the agreement so that each party fully understands their rights and responsibilities.

Sperm Donation

A sperm donor can be either known or anonymous (through a sperm bank). Intended Parents using a known sperm donor are advised to work with Meg early in the process to draft an agreement to delineate the rights and responsibilities of the Intended Parents. There is no uniformity in the law governing parental rights and responsibilities of sperm donors. A well-drafted agreement will maximize the likelihood that intentions regarding parentage will be honored in the event of a future dispute.

In this agreement, the parties identify who is intended to be the legal parents of the unborn child, what, if any, involvement the donor will have with the child, and whether the identity of the donor will be revealed to the child or other family members. The agreement has provisions whereby the donor agrees to cooperate in any legal proceedings necessary to establish parentage of the IP. Meg will draft an agreement that protects all parties.

Co-Maternity Agreement

Same sex clients engaged in “co-maternity” (also referred to as “egg sharing”) may elect to use the eggs of one partner, fertilized with donor sperm, to produce embryos which are implanted in the womb of the other partner. One woman is the genetic mother and the other is the gestational mother – there is no donor and no surrogate. In this arrangement, Meg will draft a co-maternity agreement for Intended Parents to provide them with the best and strongest legal protections possible. The agreement states unequivocally that they are combining their reproductive capabilities to cause conception of a child that they intend to parent together. The agreement will be drafted prior to the IVF cycle; most fertility clinics will not begin the medical process without this type of agreement in place.

Review of clinic consent forms

Many fertility clinics have standardized forms for patients to complete as part of the informed consent process. However, these forms do not take into account the nuances of the unsettled field of parentage law in each state. The forms often go beyond the concepts of procedures, benefits and risks, and reaches into issues of establishment and relinquishment of parental rights. Such boilerplate provisions in consent forms cannot resolve legal parentage. Despite the importance to patients of ensuring that legal parental rights are properly established and relinquished, these forms are often completed by patients without the benefit of legal counsel.

For patients undergoing IVF through their doctor or a fertility clinic, it is imperative to have a solid understanding of the medical release and consent forms that are being agreed to at the beginning of the process. It is also critical for same sex couples to have the facility and/or clinic documents reviewed and customized for their relationship. Contact Meg to gain a solid understanding of your rights and responsibilities regarding these forms.

Embryo Disposition Agreements

As the use and success of IVF grows, so, too, will the number of frozen embryos in storage. Patients must have clear knowledge and understanding as to what their clinic will do with unused embryos after a certain time period. It is important to establish and clarify your rights to and the future disposition of your cryopreserved unused embryos, and Meg can assist with this important step.

Adoption Law

Private Agency Adoption

A private agency adoption is an adoption that occurs through a non-government operated agency. If you have identified a match through an agency, contact Meg before you bring your baby home so she can prepare the initial paperwork. She will guide you through the legal process to bring your family to court and successfully complete the adoption.

Step Parent

Adopting a stepchild is the most common form of adoption. In a step parent adoption, a biological parent relinquishes parental rights by way of consent and the step parent who adopts will be legally responsible for his or her spouse’s child. Meg will draft an agreement to guide you through the legal process to seamlessly blend your family.

Second Parent

Same sex couples will need to complete a second parent adoption after the birth of their child. For lesbians using a known or anonymous donor, Meg will acquire medical affidavits concerning the use of artificial insemination from the biological mother’s physician, and, if necessary, obtain voluntary surrenders or court-ordered terminations concerning the parental rights of a known donor. For gay men using an egg donor and surrogate or traditional carrier, Meg will obtain all necessary surrenders. This process is critical for same sex couples, as the birth certificate is only a presumption of paternity.

Co-Parent

A co-parent adoption is the joint adoption of a child by two unmarried adults who jointly seek a permanent and legal relationship with the child. In contrast to a second-parent adoption, neither adult is already the biological or legal parent of the child. With a co-parent adoption in place, each parent would be equally entitled to custody of the child if the couple were to later dissolve their relationship. In such a situation, a court would determine custody based on the best interests of the child, without giving an automatic advantage or preference to either parent.

Re-Adoption

Most adoptions of foreign born children are finalized in the child’s country of birth. Adoptive parents typically obtain a foreign adoption decree written in the language of the child’s birth country. Upon returning to the United States, many adoptive parents go through the process of adopting the same child in an adoption proceeding in Illinois. The process is known as re-adoption, and it is a means of formally documenting the parent-child relationship under both United States and Illinois law. Re-adoption is highly practical: re-adoption proceedings ensure the termination of the birth parents’ rights and the adoptive parents obtain an Illinois “Record of Foreign Birth,” a legal and binding document in the United States. Adoptive parents will also no longer have to produce the foreign adoption decree and its corresponding English translation, which becomes cumbersome and confusing. This will simplify situations that occur with school registration, driver’s license and other applications where a certified copy of a birth certificate is required. A legal name change can be completed during re-adoption and the chosen name will be listed on the Record of Foreign Birth. A state court is not required to automatically recognize a foreign adoption decree. If you move to a state that does not recognize foreign adoption decrees, the legality of the international adoption could be questioned. Contact Meg to complete the process of re-adoption in Illinois.

Adult Adoption

An adult adoption occurs when two adults legally enter a parent-child relationship. The typical adult adoption is used to ensure that the law recognizes an already-existing parent-child relationship. Adult adoption may provide a number of other benefits including the allowance of a step-parent or caregiver to share in the adopting adult's inheritance when he or she passes away. It also allows adults to ensure they will have the right to see one another in the hospital and make important decisions for one another if one of them becomes incapacitated. Meg will answer questions specific to your situation and guide both parties through the process of adult adoption.

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