Currently, there are no surrogacy laws in Rhode Island.  Every surrogacy case goes through the Chief Judge of Family Court in Providence.  Because all surrogacy cases are handled by the same person, the legal process of surrogacy in Rhode Island is very consistent.  

Although the following guide can give you a better understanding of the general rules and regulations of surrogacy in Rhode Island, it is not meant to be used as legal advice. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney to guide you through your unique journey. 

Below is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about surrogacy in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Coat of Arms

Is Gestational Surrogacy Legal in Rhode Island?

YesSurrogacy is legal in Rhode Island, although there are no laws that expressly permit, prohibit, or regulate it.  Instead, all surrogacy cases are taken to the same Chief Judge of Family Court.

Despite the lack of Rhode Island surrogacy laws, surrogacy is still commonplace in Rhode Island.

Is Traditional Surrogacy Legal in Rhode Island?

This is unclear.  As with gestational surrogacy, there are no traditional surrogacy laws in Rhode Island. In most cases, traditional surrogacy is treated like an adoption, and requires that the surrogate wait at least 15 days after the child’s birth before she can terminate her parental rights and provide her consent to the adoption. 

Legally, traditional surrogacy is a complex process and is very rare.  Most surrogate attorneys will only complete gestational surrogacies.

Is Compensated Surrogacy Legal in Rhode Island?

YesCompensated surrogacy is legal when pursuing gestational surrogacy. Intended parents are permitted to compensate the surrogate for her time and expenses.  In addition to their base pay, Surrogates are compensated for their time, the medical risks they accept, and the list of expenses below: 

  • Mock cycle compensation 
  • Embryo transfer compensation
  • Starting medication compensation
  • Monthly allowance for miscellaneous expenses
  • Monthly Housekeeping budget
  • Maternity clothing budget
  • Medical expenses
  • Travel to and from clinic/hospital
  • Lost wages if applicable
  • Child care if bed rest is required
  • Term life insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Independent legal counsel
  • Psychological counseling
  • Other depending on agency

Compensated traditional surrogacy; however, has been prohibited in past cases because they are legally viewed as adoptions. Therefore, it is likely that such contracts may be found unenforceable if challenged in a Rhode Island court.

Creating a Rhode Island Surrogacy Contract

Because there are no surrogacy laws in Rhode Island, there are no specific requirements as to what must be included in the contract.  However, intended parents and their surrogates must be represented by separate surrogacy attorneys to ensure their individual rights and interests are protected. 

These attorneys will negotiate a contract that addresses the following: 

  • The rights and responsibilities of both parties
  • The potential risks and liabilities for both parties
  • Agreement on sensitive issues like selective reduction and termination
  • Surrogate compensation and other financial information, like surrogacy insurance
  • How the intended parents will establish their parental rights
  • And more

Once the intended parents, the surrogate and her spouse (if applicable) consent to and sign the surrogacy contract, the medical process of surrogacy can begin.    

Determining Legal Parentage in Rhode Island

There are no laws on surrogacy in Rhode Island that mention pre-birth parentage ordersHowever, the judge, who sees all surrogacy cases, has consistently granted pre-birth orders to  all intended parents in gestational surrogacy agreements, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, and regardless of whether or not you have a genetic link to your child.  


Same-Sex Surrogacy in Rhode Island

Q: Is Same-Sex Surrogacy Legal in Rhode Island?
A: Yes. Same-sex couples and LGBT+ intended parents have the same legal rights and will experience generally the same surrogacy process as opposite-sex couples, with the exception of likely requiring an egg donor or sperm donor to complete the IVF procedure. 

Q: Are There any Additional Laws Impacting Same-Sex Parenting in Rhode Island?
A: No. There are no additional laws impacting same-sex parents in this state.


Q: Are Surrogacy Contracts (Whether Compensated or Altruistic) Enforceable in Rhode Island?

A: This is unclear. The Chief Judge reviews every surrogacy case in Rhode Island, which means he or she will determine whether the contents of a Rhode Island surrogacy contract are enforceable or not.

Because of this, it is important to consult with a Rhode Island surrogate attorney to guide you through the creation of your specific contract. 

Q: Are There any Particular Laws for Parents Outside the United States Who Complete a Surrogacy in Rhode Island?

A: No. There are no surrogacy laws in Rhode Island that specifically apply to international intended parents.  It is important, however, that Intended parents from another country speak with an immigration lawyer to ensure they follow the proper legal steps for taking their child home.

Q: When do Intended Parents Need to Complete an Adoption After Birth?

A: Typically, intended parents in a Rhode Island surrogacy can obtain a pre-birth order and an adoption will not be necessary to establish their parental rights.  An exception would be if intended parents from Rhode Island complete a surrogacy in another state and can’t obtain a parentage order, they may need to complete an adoption after birth. 

Q: Does Rhode Island Allow Second-Parent Adoptions? Who Would Need to Complete a Second-Parent Adoption vs. a Stepparent Adoption (If Applicable)?

A: YesSecond-parent adoptions are available to unmarried couples and stepparent adoptions are available to married couples. 

Q: What Happens in Cases Where Intended Parents Use a Donor Egg, Sperm or Embryo?

A: The Chief Judge overseeing Rhode Island surrogacy cases has, in practice, granted pre-birth parentage orders regardless of the use of a donor egg, sperm or embryo so this usually has no effect on the rights of intended parents.


Michael, Grant, Esq.
Cranston, RI
(401) 219-0400

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