Deciding to start a family is a big decision for any couple. Still, for some, the challenges are enormous right out of the gate. Would-be families sometimes face significant medical problems that make traditional childbirth impossible or dangerous. A woman with her uterus surgically removed, for example, is no longer biologically capable of giving birth to a child due to the medical procedure that saved her from cancer. A woman with a heart condition, on the other hand, can still become pregnant.However, her heart condition puts both her life and that of the child at risk since the intense demands of pregnancy would jeopardize her health.
Surrogacy is one solution to this obstacle. This is the process whereby another woman that is medically evaluated as “safe” agrees to become pregnant on behalf of a couple. She has either her own egg fertilized through artificial insemination or has a fertilized egg from a donor implanted in her uterus. After a normal nine-month pregnancy, she introduced the newborn baby to the would-be parents, and a new family starts their lives together.
However, surrogacy, as appealing as it may be, is not always straightforward from a legal sense. Despite being one of the older solutions to childlessness in history, people thinking about going abroad for surrogacy face some legal considerations. Here are some of the big ones to look out for.
Different Countries, Different Laws
People consider surrogacy abroad for two primary reasons. The first is that they would like to undertake surrogacy, but the type they’d like is not legal in their country of residence. People who live in France, or Germany, for example, can’t work with surrogate mothers locally because all types of surrogacy are banned. On the other hand, people in Canada can work with local surrogates, but only compassionate/altruistic surrogates, because compensated surrogacy, where the surrogate mother receives significant financial recognition for her contribution, is illegal.
Another reason people will sometimes go abroad is to get “more from their money.” Going to the USA for world-class medical treatment is always possible, but expensive. Surrogacy, and world-class medical treatment, is now available in different countries, for different amounts depending on the currency. Sometimes it’s more cost-effective to go abroad.
The Partner Problem
People who want to work with a surrogate mother, however, must sometimes be careful about which countries they choose, depending on their lifestyle. In some cases, even though surrogacy is legal in a country, the nature of the relationship involved may make surrogacy illegal. This is the case in Georgia, for example. For many couples, the fact that compensated surrogacy is legal in this country—and enshrined in their constitution—makes it the perfect place to go to have a child.
Unfortunately, this legal coverage does not extend to same-sex couples. So a same-sex male couple would find their requests refused here. Georgian law about surrogacy only extends to traditional male-female couples. Others will have to elsewhere.
A Matter Of Faith
Other countries, such as Israel, have a faith component that is part of their legal requirements. So couples can come to Israel from different parts of the world and work with a surrogate mother as normally expected. However, because Israel, especially Jerusalem, is considered a holy region for many different faiths, there is a religious aspect involved as well.
Couples that want to work with an Israeli surrogate mother must be of the same faith. In other words, an atheist couple with no actual religious practice would not be able to work with surrogate mothers here. In contrast, a Jewish surrogate mother must work with a would-be Jewish family, and the same goes for a Christian surrogate mother. Trying to side-step this requirement is breaking the law in Israel.
Perhaps one of the most significant legal considerations of all is what will happen to a family returning with a newborn to the intended country of residence. This legal situation will vary wildly in consequence from one country to the next. One thing, however, is sure; this should always be looked into before making the return home. Leaving a country as a couple and returning with a newborn is always an extra legal complication, even for couples where the woman left visibly pregnant.
Depending on the country being returned to, without proper legal inquiries, a newborn baby may not be granted citizenship. This would mean that the child is now “stateless,” and while the parents can safely return to the country, the child, legally, isn’t it. Other countries may only require a little bit of extra paperwork and legal declaration to clear a child for entry and grant it citizenship. However, you shouldn’t take this for granted. Always check with legal experts in citizenship and international law to ensure that you know what protocol to observe for a surrogate baby returning to a new country of residence.