MazelSpotlight: Trachman Law Center & Colorado Surrogacy
Meet Ellen Trachman.
Originally from northern New Mexico, Ellen attended undergrad at the University of California, Berkeley, and law school at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Ellen practiced law in the investment management group of Sidley Austin LLP, a large international law firm, in San Francisco for seven years and corporate law for a well-respected Colorado practice before founding Trachman Law Center, LLC.
Ellen founded Trachman Law Center, LLC in order to bring dedicated and compassionate legal representation to those wishing to build a family through adoption or assisted reproductive technology. Trachman Law Center, based in Denver, specializes in family formation and protection — with a focus on assisted reproduction technology law (egg, sperm, embryo donation and surrogacy arrangements) — and estate planning (wills, trusts, and powers of attorney). The Trachman Law Center team believes in the importance of family in all forms and their mission is to help clients build, grow, empower, and protect their families and themselves.
Ellen is also the Co-Director of Colorado Surrogacy, a surrogacy matching and support organization. She also co-hosts a weekly podcast called “I Want To Put A Baby In You”, interviewing professionals and persons with first-hand experiences of lives changed by assisted reproductive technology. Ellen writes a weekly column for the website abovethelaw.com on assisted reproductive technology legal issues.
Ellen and her husband Will live in Stapleton with their four kids: Meira (9), Turner (7), Zev (5), and Lindy (3). She enjoys podcasts (her own as well as others!), card games, road trips, and finding excuses to go to Starbucks.
Let’s find out more about Ellen and how she does it all…
How long have you been specializing in fertility and reproduction?
While I enjoyed the challenge and intricate legal aspects of corporate law, where I started my legal career in 2005, I wanted to find an area where I could make more of a positive impact on people’s lives. I learned about assisted reproductive technology law (also known as fertility law or family formation law) back in 2006. However, only after having some personal shake ups in my life (including the death of two family members in one month), and watching some compelling TedTalks, did I gather the courage to embark on my own in this field. That was back in 2013. I have been grateful every day since to work in such a rewarding area of law.
How many fertility law cases do you represent in a year?
Probably close to a hundred. I am very fortunate to get to walk this life-changing path with so many individuals and couples each year.
How much of your practice is dedicated to fertility law?
A significant majority. I also do LGBTQ family protection work — obtaining judicial recognition for legally vulnerable families — as well as step-parent, kinship, and custodial adoptions, and estate planning for my clients.
Is Colorado a surrogacy-friendly state?
Yes. We do not have any specific law on surrogacy, but the courts, medical providers, vital records, and other third parties have all been very open and supportive to those going through gestational surrogacy arrangements to achieve their family.
What does Jewish law say about surrogacy?
A few years ago I had the good fortunate to attend a class with Denver’s Rabbi Mendel Popack on the Jewish approach to medically complex questions, including surrogacy. I learned the answer was… not clear. Different Rabbis have different approaches to the issues. While it is a mitzvah to be fruitful and multiply, surrogacy poses certain complications, such as the surrogate putting herself at risk for someone for whom she is not obligated to do so, as well as questions of Jewish identity for the child and whether conversion might be necessary depending on the circumstances.
How does one become a gestational surrogate? What advice do you have for those considering it?
Great question! It is a huge undertaking for a woman and her entire family. It takes a special person — someone who enjoys (or at least does not hate!) being pregnant and would want to go through the whole process for another family. Even though that means being poked and prodded by medical professionals, psychologically evaluated, enduring a pregnancy and delivery, and getting good at giving self injections! It is an incredibly selfless act. On top of that, to qualify to be a gestational carrier, a woman must fit within the fertility clinics’ requirements. That generally means being healthy, a non-smoker, having a history of only uncomplicated pregnancies, being between the ages of 21-40, having a BMI under 30, as well as having a stable living situation (being on public assistance financially tends to be a disqualifier).
If you are considering being a surrogate, I recommend doing lots of research. Talk to people who have done it to find out what it’s really like. Come to a local meet up for surrogates and ask questions. Colorado Surrogacy has multiple free, available-to-the-public, meet-ups per month across the Denver-metro area and Colorado Springs (check www.coloradosurro.com for dates and times). You can also reach out to Colorado Surrogacy by email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) or phone (720-651-4025 ) to discuss any questions you might have.
Those who have gone through a surrogacy experience for another family often speak of it being one of the most amazing experiences of their life and many develop a life-long bond with the intended parents and their family. To apply go to: https://www.coloradosurro.com/apply-now
As the field of assisted reproductive technology continues to grow, if you have any questions, especially when considering procedures involving a third-party, such as surrogacy, reach out to Ellen. She’ll be happy to answer your questions.
Trachman Law Center, LLC
1515 Wynkoop Street, Suite 360
Denver, CO 80202
8354 Northfield Blvd., Suite 3700
Denver, CO 80238
Ellen serves on the Board of Directors for the Denver Jewish Chamber of Commerce.