Most people that decide it’s time to start a family do so in the conventional way. A woman gets pregnant, and the baby is born nine months later. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way it will work for everyone. Some people that want to start a family together have serious medical obstacles that prevent childbirth entirely or put both mother and child in serious risk if pregnancy is attempted.
Surrogacy is one way to overcome this challenge. It’s when another woman medically evaluated as “safe” agrees to either artificial insemination or receiving an implant of a donor fertilized egg.The would-be family then steps in to raise their new child, beginning a new life together. Some families planning to go this route may be thinking of traveling abroad and having an international surrogacy experience. If you’re one of those considering this, here are some of the steps you need to consider as you make your plans.
Is It Necessary?
The first step is evaluating the necessity of going abroad. Is the option you want for surrogacy available to you in your country of residence? For some people, this issue may boil down to wanting a compensated surrogacy rather than an altruistic/compassionate surrogacy. Altruistic/compassionate surrogacies are on a volunteer basis. The woman who acts as a surrogate mother gets living expenses, and medical expenses covered as required, but receives no other financial backing otherwise.
Compensated surrogacies are like a conventional business transaction, where the surrogate mother gets financial recognition. In other words, she’s paid, and profits from the surrogacy. Countries that have legalized compensated surrogacy tend to have much higher qualified candidate pools for people that want more choice.
In other cases, surrogacy may not be an option in the country of residence at all. This is the situation for French or German would-be families. Surrogacy of all types is banned in these countries, meaning would-be families have no custody or legal rights over the newborn baby at all, only the birth mother does.
Depending on your situation, going abroad may mean expanding your surrogacy options, or simply having the option at all.
Selecting A Country
Some research will need to be done here, depending on your needs. Many countries offer surrogacy services, but the personal circumstances of your would-be family may open—or limit—some of your choices. Some countries, like Thailand, used to offer surrogacy services to foreign families. Tragically, after a would-be Australian family found out their surrogate mother was having twins, with one suffering from a congenital disability, they demanded an abortion of one child, which the mother refused, and abandoned that baby to the surrogate mother, making off with the healthy one. After that, Thailand closed its borders to foreign surrogacy agreements.
In other cases, there may be social/ideological objections. Georgia, as another example, is a country that offers compensated surrogacies to foreign visitors. Their surrogacy laws are so well-developed they are enshrined within the Georgian constitution. However, this is a socially conservative country, and so these laws, while comprehensive, only extend to traditional heterosexual couples. A same-sex male couple would have their business refused under Georgian law, and they would need to go to another country.
Finding An Agency
Once you’ve found a country with laws and options that suit your needs, it’s time to find a surrogate agency or organization within that country that meets your needs. Being able to communicate in your preferred language is, of course, a necessity. However, you’ll want to look into other characteristics of the group, such as their track record of success, testimonials, and their experience with dealing with your country.
This last consideration is especially important. Some agencies or groups will have extensive experience dealing with the legal requirements of other countries, and you want that legal know-how. Without it, you may find yourself in a situation where returning from the country of surrogacy with a newborn may result in that baby not being granted citizenship. Always work with an agency that knows how to handle the citizenship legalities of your country, so you are prepared for this.
Finding A Surrogate
The final stages are the search for and meet up with a surrogate mother. It’s important to understand that a personal component is critical for surrogacy abroad. You should always take the time and effort to meet with any potential candidates and talk to them to get a feel for the situation. With something as important as carrying a child to term, this is not something you want to leave as a cold, impersonal business transaction where you only arrive to pick up the baby.
Meet with the surrogate mother candidates. Get to know them. Find the one that “clicks” so both parties have a good feeling about the arrangement. Once the decision is made, commit to it, and try to be proactive about visiting and providing support right to the moment of childbirth.