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Washington D.C. Surrogacy Law Overview

The Center for Surrogate Parenting walks you through Washington D.C. surrogacy law

Surrogacy is a beautiful family-building method. However, it can be complex, especially when it comes to the laws surrounding it. Thankfully, our experienced surrogacy agency is well-versed in the laws of each state, including Washington D.C. surrogacy law.

As the oldest surrogacy agency in the world, we have helped U.S. and international parents to welcome healthy babies with help from U.S. surrogates. We are proud to say that we have never experienced issues with intended parents being able to bring their babies home.

To help you learn more about Washington D.C. surrogacy law and how to create a surrogacy contract, we’ve included some basic information below.

You can also contact us for more information.

    • Is a surrogacy contract valid and enforceable?

      Although Washington D.C. previously criminalized surrogacy, it is now an accepted practice and is expressly permitted pursuant to new statutory laws that became effective in April 2017.

    • Does the state have surrogacy laws and/or case law?

      Yes, Washington D.C. passed statutory laws regarding surrogacy in April 2017.

    • Are the courts typically favorable or unfavorable towards surrogacy arrangements?

      Following the enactment of Washington D.C.’s surrogacy laws in 2017, the courts are now typically favorable towards surrogacy arrangements.

    • Is commercial surrogacy legal?

      Yes, intended parents can compensate a surrogate for her time and expenses. Compensation is typically arranged for in a surrogacy contract.

    • Is traditional surrogacy permitted?

      Yes, gestational and traditional surrogacy are permitted by the 2017 statutes. However, the statutes do specify that in cases of traditional surrogacy, the court must wait at least 48 hours after the child’s delivery before issuing an order of parentage.

    • Is gestational surrogacy allowed?


    • What are the requirements for an enforceable surrogacy contract?

      A surrogacy contract shall be binding and enforceable in Washington D.C. if it is in writing, signed by all parties and executed prior to embryo transfer. The surrogate and the intended parents must meet specific requirements and have independent legal counsel. The agreement should also include provisions that discuss the legal, financial, and contractual rights, expectations, penalties and obligations of the surrogacy agreement.

    • Are pre-birth and post-birth orders permitted?

      Pre-birth and post-birth orders are permitted. Pre-birth orders are available in D.C. and become effective at the time the child is born. These orders can readily be obtained by any parent, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation or the genetic relationship to the child.

      For venue, the intended parent or the surrogate must be a legal resident of D.C., the intended parents or the surrogate must have resided in D.C. for at least one year preceding the filing of the petition, or the child must be born in D.C.

    • Can both intended parents be declared the legal parents?

      Yes, both intended parents can be declared the legal parents in a pre-birth order, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, the use of egg or sperm donation, or the genetic relationship to the child.

    • Will the state honor a pre-birth order issued by another state?

      It is unknown.

    • What do intended parents need to know about getting the baby’s birth certificate?

      The parents will receive the birth certificate within 2 weeks if the court order was issued at least 4-6 weeks prior to delivery. If not, it may take longer to obtain the birth certificate after the delivery. Same-sex parents will be named as Parent and Parent.

      International gay couples might be able to obtain an initial birth certificate that names the biological father and gestational carrier, but it is unclear under D.C.’s surrogacy statutes. They can subsequently obtain a birth certificate that names both fathers only, with no mention of the gestational carrier.

    • Are post-birth adoptions permitted?

      Yes. However, because the state’s statutory provisions regarding surrogacy arrangements are so inclusive, post-birth adoptions are rarely necessary. If a Washington D.C. intended parent is unable to obtain a parentage order in a surrogacy arrangement in another state, they may return to D.C. to complete either a stepparent or second-parent adoption.

    • Are second-parent adoptions permitted?

      Yes, and they are available to unmarried couples.

    • Are stepparent adoptions permitted?

      Yes, and they are available to married couples.

VorzimerMasserman Disclaimer: This is a summary for informational use only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. Please note that the state laws regarding surrogacy frequently change and vary from county to county. The attorneys of VorzimerMasserman are only licensed in California. VorzimerMasserman shall not be responsible for any liability associated with this list.