SURROGACY IN GREECE
We are indebted to one of Greece’s leading surrogacy lawyers, Maria Vastaroucha, for writing the article below on steps to take to ensure a safer surrogacy journey in Greece. Maria’s contact details are at the end of the article. The article is published on our website with her permission.
Steps to take to ensure a safer surrogacy journey in Greece:
Ensure your surrogacy journey follows Greek Surrogacy Law, Greek National Authority of Assisted Reproduction (EAIYA) regulations and guidelines and the Greek Code of Contact for ART techniques. Try to look at all the options available to you, talk to others that have already finished their surrogacy journey and can share their personal experience with you. Get independent legal advice while searching and if possible travel and visit the clinics and the medical team that you will trust for this journey. It is crucial to understand that while the Greek legal framework is very favourable and protective for IPs, given that the child does not acquire Greek citizenship, it is advisable to consult your local legal counsel before starting the surrogacy process, so as to be sure on the legal conditions and the steps of gaining citizenship for your baby.
2. HEALTH AND BACKGROUND CHECKS
Ensure that the surrogate had appropriate health and psychological checks prior to starting the process and that all the parties meet the requirements for the judicial approval. It is advisable to ensure that background checks have been carried out to the surrogate and her family and that she is aware that even though according to the Greek surrogacy law she is not regarded as the mother of the baby that she will deliver, she may need to sign declarations, affidavit or solemn statements before any consular or other competent authority or give an interview, after the birth of the baby, so that full parental rights are granted to IPs. In view of this and given the altruistic nature of surrogacy in Greece, it is advisable to take time to get to know each other and build up at least a typical relationship with her. Ask the surrogate to get independent legal advice even if you have to cover the relevant cost.
3. GENETIC AND FERTILITY COUNSELLING
It is crucial for all the parties, the IPs included, to proceed after being fully and thoroughly informed by their fertility counselor and understood the procedure to be followed, as well as the terms, the alternatives, the expected results, the potential risks and the ethical, social, legal and economic consequence of the surrogacy procedure. For those using donor eggs/sperm genetic counseling is also necessary. A baby genetically related to both parents is not the same with a baby that comes from embryo donation. Greek court will not examine the genetic link of the parents to the child (embryo donation is allowed in Greece), but a judge always want to ensure that the parties have made an informed decision.
4. SURROGACY AGREEMENT
Even though surrogacy is altruistic in Greece, it is always advisable to ensure that all parties have discussed all eventualities of a surrogacy journey (multiple pregnancy, miscarriage, termination of pregnancy, how many IVF attempts till a pregnancy is achieved etc.)and have put a written agreement together even though some issues are regulated in the good faith of the parties. Greek court will examine this agreement, but your local authorities may request a copy of it, while applying for citizenship or passport. It is always advisable to notarize the signatures on it and translate this agreement to your language (if it is not a bilingual agreement) through an official translator (Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs or an accredited translator in your country).
Even though at the moment no insurance company covers risks related to surrogacy in Greece, it is always advisable to check that the surrogate has access to the public health system in case of complications during the pregnancy or after the delivery, where further hospitalization may be needed. Check if there are available insurance options for the baby and if you decide to proceed sign the contract on time (while starting the treatment). In any case, given that the cost for the stay in NICU may change significantly the total cost of the surrogacy process, ask the clinic to provide you an average cost prior to starting the process.
6. HEALTH CARE PROXY
Surrogacy journey is a challenging journey and many things, such as the delivery date, may not happen as initially scheduled. A premature birth or travel restrictions (as it happened during COVID19 period) may prevent IPs from being present at the delivery date. This means that the baby may be left in a legal limbo (without parents) for some days. To avoid this it is always advisable to sign a health care proxy authorizing your lawyer or a trustworthy person to represent you at the maternity hospital and the Greek civil registry acting on your behalf and according to your instructions.
7. RESPECT THE TIME FRAME TO OBTAIN A COURT AUTHORISATION
What makes Greece unique as a destination it is the court decision at the stage before the embryo transfer. With this court decision filiation between Intended Mother and the baby is established from the moment of the embryo transfer which is the first and most important step in this wonderful journey. If Greek didn’t have this unique process, things would be quite different and this because of the Roman – law principle “Mater semper certa est (“The mother is always certain”)” (that exists in almost all the jurisdictions around the world), The latter has the power of praesumptio iuris et de iure, meaning that no counter-evidence can be made against this principle which provides that the mother of the child is conclusively established, from the moment of birth, by the mother’s role in the birth. Hence this process is not just a bureaucratic or typical process or just a necessary step before the embryo transfer but it is the MOST IMPORTANT STEP in this journey because an embryo transfer prior to the court approval means that the surrogate will be listed as a mother on the birth certificate. This is why surrogacy cases are not examined by a single judge but by Multi Member Courts which in Greece are competent for cases of higher importance. Even though Greece is not famous for the speed of justice, surrogacy cases, given their nature are examined in a “fast track” process (not long delays in getting a hearing date – not long delays in getting the court approval) taking always into account how the whole justice works in Greece and the time frame that judges are allowed to publish a court decision in general. However, it needs to be clear that it is a court process with big importance and even though there is no opponent, the public prosecutor can participate and things of big importance are examined (that Greek law and the public order are not violated). For a couple struggling many years with infertility having a baby as soon as possible is of great importance, but for the Greek judge it is of big importance as well to examine thoroughly the file and confirm eligibility according to the Greek Law. A lawyer can’t intervene on the work of the judge and ask to prioritize a case and we need to respect the time a court needs to publish the court decision.
So, with any clinic you decided to start your journey and independent of the “matching period” with the surrogate that every clinic may have, you always need to have all the above in mind as for the court process, be patient and think positive! And don’t forget, all parties involved on this journey are on the same page and wish for the same! Good things in life come to those who wait!
NOMOS LAW FIRM, “Fertility Law Greece”
1, VALAORITOU STR.
T+30 2310 263665
F +30 2310 222405