Friday, June 26, 2009

Contracts ... hindsight is a bewdiful thang


We're making progress. So many lawyers involved this time round. One for our ED contract in the USA, one for the ED contract in India, one for the contract between the clinic and us, and one for the contract between our surrogate, S, and us. Yikes, costly but so worth it after our last experience. I don't think it's possible to get any better legally protected than we are. Our doc is happy with Amy's FSH and LH levels, so we're right to get organising all the legal things (and sent a shite-load of money overseas ... again... gulp). But as my dear husband said to me last night, "It's okay, we're lucky we can afford to do this again, it's only money". He is so smart.

Answers to a few questions recently asked

Contracts
A few people have emailed and asked is it standard to get a contract between the agency/clinic/hospital and the IPs.  In my experience, no, but this may have changed. In hindsight I would have absolutely insisted on at least a contract between the agency and us, listing all fees, as well as independent legal advice to check the contract between IPs and the surrogates. But I didn't know things could go wrong back then and I guess we were so excited, and trusting and just downright grateful we had the opportunity to become parents through surrogacy, we grabbed the opportunity offered and dived on in. Never again.

What is standard?
If your service provider is not keen to give you a sample contract to look through but expects you to enrol, send your money and fly to India, by which time you'll be in a great rush to sign up, consider this suspicious. Once you hit the ground in India, whether it be Mumbai, Delhi or elsewhere, things move really fast, you'll be full of emotion, in a strange land experiencing things you never expected to ... it will be too late.

Costs
Ask actual prices for whatever potential cost you can think of. Things do not always go smoothly. This time round we know how much a selective reduction costs, or an amnio, or a termination. We know the daily rate for babies in the NICU, if needed, we know how much a C-Section will cost. We know what our clinic charges for sperm storage, and for freezing and thawing embryos. What now appear to be simple questions that should have been asked, questions that should have easy answers,  it never occurred to us to ask these questions until we had committed, and by then, it was too late.

A fiscally scrupulous service provider will give you prices for the "unforseen" treatment that may be needed along the way. We had to fight long and hard to get basic prices, and still there were many questions unanswered. Your "basic package" never includes everything, not with any clinic or hospital. On a happy note, the three places in Delhi IPs are enrolling with (one clinic and two hospitals) have all been very thorough with upfront communication and prices. Things will always cost more than you expect, and it is good to know how much to keep aside to pay for the financial twists and turns this journey takes one on. 

I don't have all the answers to every question, and advise new IPs to go to the IPs only forum at http://pea-in-an-indianpod.forumotion.com and start asking questions and reading, as much as you can. Australians can also go to www.australiaindiasurrogacyadvocates.org we haven't updated it for some time now, but you'll find some valuable information about the logistics of how to negotiate your way through the surrogacy maze. Both the forum and AISA are voluntary groups started and maintained by IPs, and neither have any influence from surrogacy service providers. 

Some interesting news:
For those that have read for some time, bless you, you must be so bored by now. You may remember the lawyer in the USA who we hired do our contract between our former surrogate and us. A recap. We paid this lawyer US$3000 (AU$3700 back then), then had to cancel due to the global crisis and the rapidly falling Aussie dollar. Part of the agreement was that she would charge $175 per hour for any work done on our behalf should we have to cancel our agreement. Sounds simple? Yep. We cancelled, and asked for a refund and never heard from her again.

We subsequently contacted the Arkansas Supreme Court, Office of Professional Conduct. The office looked into our case, and then we never heard from them again. Last month we wote another letter and heard back from the OPC. The lawyer's story, apparently, is that she sent us a cheque for $1500, but it was never cashed. Interesting. Australian banks will not cash foreign cheques. we also asked for a wire transfer, and provided our bank's details. Surely if "the cheque that was in the mail" was not cashed this lawyer would have wondered why, and sent the money via wire transfer. Despite many requests during the past EIGHT months, at no stage did she even send us a statement of her work done. 

So no, we don't agree to a refund for $1500. We want proof that she sent a cheque. We also want her to prove how she earned $1500 of our money. On the bright side, she has admitted that she owes us at least $1500.I never thought we'd see a red cent from her. Whatever we get back in refund will be hard fought for, and a bonus for us. And guess what we'll spend the money on.  A holiday in the Bahamas? Beer and skittles? Some instruction on the art of appropriate blogging language from the Order of the Perpetual Sisters of Everlasting Judgement Against Potty Mouths for yours truly?"  Nope, but you guessed it ... lawyers! Gotta love em. 

(I wonder if we should hire yet another lawyer to act on our behalf if any of the fore-mentioned lawyers take our money and run.)


(PS. RIP MJ and FF, I grew up with your music and TV, thanks for the memories)





4 comments:

Jon said...

Amani

You need to write to the office that pressured this lawyer to send you the refund and just document all that is happening. Trust me these American lawyers do not want any kind of oversight board on their tail. Hiring another lawyer to collect 1500 is a waste of money. I'd continue with the state government pressure before you go to any Plan B. Make sure whatever communication you have with them is certified so they don't say they didn't get your letters, that's the first sneaky tactic they will use. Good idea to send them a letter indicating that any correspondences to you should be sent certified and not via standard mail. Good luck. Glad to hear you are making progress on all fronts.

astrocat88 said...

Hi Amani,

I'm not clear on all of these contracts you are talking about. My husband and I are set to go to the Rotunda in October using Indian DE + Surrogate (we are both Caucasians). However, yesterday, a USA agency contacted me about sending a Caucasian to India for the DE process. Complicated nevertheless. Anyway, your email has raised red flags because I have spoken and written to over 10 couples that have had success with the Rotunda but no one who hasn't. What is your "full" case? Perhaps knowing the pit-falls you have faced can help us to avoid them as everyone else has been so happy (with the outcome, etc.). Is there anyway to contact you? Thank you.

Amani said...

I have explained our specific issues throughout my blog. I am not talking about Rotunda, whom I have no experience with. You will also find Si couples who have not encountered the financial issues that we did with SI. After spending our whole surrogacy budget thus far, we are personally taking every precaution to ensure we don't experience the same - we simply can't afford to. Perhaps join the forum I mentioned where I have outlined specifics about our situation and can answer more directly as it is a closed forum for IPs.

It is my recommendation IPs have a contract between their service provider and themselves, but many couples have been successful without this contract. It's just what I personally advise as no package is fully inclusive and prices can rise, and other charges be added depending on how your pregnancy goes.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Amani.

I am a member of that site but haven't been back in a while. I will go there to find out more.
Thanks for getting back to me! astrocat88