If you’re thinking about international surrogacy, there are some important factors you should consider before making this commitment. Just as you would with the domestic surrogacy process, it’s important that you completely understand the process and legalities involved, the risks and liabilities and what to expect before signing any kind of contract for an international surrogacy.
Whether you’re an intended parent or prospective surrogate, we recommend you speak in depth to an international surrogacy agency if you’re interested in this process. They can give you the most accurate information for their particular process, any requirements you have to meet and any other useful information you need.
To give you a better idea of what international surrogacy programs entail, we’ve explained some general information below:
Surrogacy in the United States
If you currently live in the United States, it will be much easier to complete a domestic surrogacy than a surrogacy abroad. Not only will travel and communication be easier, but the laws regulating surrogacy in the U.S. (while varying from state to state) are well-enforced and thoroughly understood by domestic surrogacy professionals and surrogacy lawyers.
In the U.S., even though some states do not allow for compensated surrogacy, many states do allow a surrogate to receive the proper financial reimbursement for pregnancy-related expenses. Some countries, on the other hand, do not, which can quickly step into ethically questionable grounds. When you’re considering international surrogacy, you’ll also need to factor in laws that restrict surrogacy for single parents or homosexual couples, as well as the complications of exchange rates and the likelihood of advanced fertility care in your preferred country.
Therefore, if you currently live in the United States, a domestic surrogacy may actually be a better choice for you than an international one. There are plenty of professional, experienced surrogacy agencies and professionals available to tell you more about the domestic surrogacy process and the benefits their companies provide. You can start your search here.
For International Intended Parents
If you live outside of the United States and are looking to have a child via surrogacy in another country, using an American surrogacy agency is likely your best choice. Many surrogacy professionals in the States have developed programs specifically for international parents where you can connect with qualified American surrogates who are more than happy to carry a child for an international couple.
International surrogacy in the U.S. is very similar to a domestic surrogacy process; you’ll go through the same steps of screening, matching, embryo transfer and hospital experience. The laws in the United States are ideal for surrogacy, as the process is well-regulated and many states allow for compensated surrogacy (which is outlawed in other countries). When you choose to complete an international surrogacy in the United States, you can be sure that it will be a safe, legal and ethical process from start to finish.
You’ll work with a lawyer who will effectively handle any legal issues involved with you being an international intended parent, and they’ll ensure that you’ll be able to safely take your baby home once they’re born. Your surrogacy professional will also be there with you every step of the way to manage communication between you and your prospective surrogate, no matter the distance or time zone differences. Communicating across countries is easier than ever — and won’t be a detriment to your surrogacy process.
To learn more about the international surrogacy process, please contact one of these U.S. agencies who offer services to foreign intended parents:
International Surrogacy Outside of the United States
Whether you live in the United States or another country, you may still want to explore international surrogacy as a parenthood option. It’s certainly a possibility, but there are some important aspects of overseas surrogacy you should be aware of before moving forward.
Surrogacy Laws by Country
In many countries outside of the United States, surrogacy is a controversial practice — especially in countries where it is not well regulated. It’s important that you only consider countries where surrogacy is legal for your international surrogacy to not only protect yourself and the surrogate but also the baby that will result from this process.
The international surrogacy agency that you choose should be experienced in the laws of the country you’re working in, and you should also seek out a lawyer in that country who frequently completes surrogacies. Don’t forget: If you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language, you’ll also need to hire a certified translator.
It’s important to know that international surrogacy laws vary widely and have become more restrictive over the years; what’s legal in one country may not be legal in another. That’s why it’s so important that you work with an experienced lawyer for your surrogacy, as you need to make sure you’re completing every step legally.
Many Southeast Asian countries have begun to restrict who can complete a surrogacy. Surrogacy in India and surrogacy in Thailand is now restricted to citizens, and surrogacy in China is completely outlawed.
In addition, many countries have restricted the types of surrogacy allowable; surrogacy in Australia, surrogacy in the U.K., surrogacy in Canada and many other countries only allow altruistic surrogacy. Compensated surrogacy is illegal in many countries.
Because the United States allows for anyone to complete the surrogacy process and allows for compensated surrogacy, it’s become the top destination for international surrogacy today.
You can find out more about the laws for popular surrogacy countries here.
Compensation for the Surrogate
One of the reasons why international surrogacy can be controversial is because of the compensation allowed for a surrogate. Some countries do not allow for additional compensation given to a surrogate and, even for those that do, there are concerns you should be aware of.
For women in many countries permitting international surrogacy, surrogacy provides a life-changing opportunity to escape poverty because of how large their compensation is in comparison to what they usually earn. However, because the money is so enticing, critics are concerned that women are forced to choose surrogacy as a way to escape poverty — even if they don’t feel comfortable with the process. These same critics say that this process takes advantage of poor, vulnerable women who may not understand the whole surrogacy process due to a lack of education and who may be incapable of giving informed consent. Because of these concerns, certain countries have begun to restrict or outlaw surrogacy.
When intended parents work with a surrogate in the United States, they will know she is financially stable enough to make a well-informed decision — and that she chooses surrogacy because she wants to, not because it’s her only option. When intended parents complete an international surrogacy outside of the U.S., however, they may not be sure of the surrogate’s financial situation and that she is really comfortable with the process.
Travel and Costs for International Surrogacy
In most international surrogacies, the intended parents will need to travel to the surrogate’s country. How many trips you need to take will vary based on the agency you choose, but you should expect to at least be in the surrogate’s country for screening and the embryo transfer, and the eventual birth of your child. Depending on where the intended parents live in comparison to the surrogate, travel costs can quickly add up.
Intended parents will also likely have less contact with an international surrogate when she is pregnant, which may be disconcerting for some. While international communication is easier than ever before, there is still the possibility that a surrogate will not have the means, time or language skills to reassure intended parents as often as they would like.
Many intended parents around the world are motivated to complete an international surrogacy because the costs are lower than in their home country. While this may be true on the surface, an international surrogacy can actually end up costing you more than the price originally quoted. Because medical standards abroad vary and are not regulated in the same way from country to country, the rate of a successful embryo transfer for an international surrogate can be much lower than in your home country. Therefore, you may have to pay for multiple attempts at an embryo transfer — dramatically increasing your international surrogacy costs.
If you’re considering international surrogacy, you should fully research the success rates and medical standards on infertility in a specific country before moving forward with that process.
You’ll also have to factor in the costs associated with bringing your child home — how your parental rights will be legally protected, whether a foreign birth certificate can be domesticated, the visas or passports required for your baby, etc. Your surrogacy lawyer can help you understand these processes, so it’s important you choose an attorney who is well-experienced with the law in the surrogate’s home country.
Clearly, international surrogacy outside of the United States comes with many risks and issues to consider. Whether you’re an intended parent or a surrogate, it’s important that you fully understand the process you’re getting into and the liabilities associated with it. We recommend you contact a surrogacy professional and surrogacy lawyer in your area to find out if international surrogacy is right for you.
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