While most couples that want to start a family take the conventional route of a woman allowing herself to become pregnant, this isn’t an option for everyone. Some couples have serious obstacles, like medical conditions, that would either put a mother and child at risk or, in the case of surgeries that have removed the uterus to fight cancer, make it impossible to become pregnant.
These couples choose other alternatives, such as surrogacy, where another woman found medically suitable agrees to become pregnant on the couple’s behalf. Once birth occurs, the baby is then united with the hopeful couple, and life as a family can begin.
However, surrogacy can be a costly investment, which has caused many couples to consider going abroad to another country to make their dreams come true. Different countries have different surrogacy agencies, and the cost of such an agency varies wildly, not just from country to country but from agency to agency within the country.
So, what makes these expenses differ between these surrogacy agencies abroad?
The Common Cost
There is one cost that all surrogacy agencies should have in common, and this is perhaps the most important function of any surrogacy agency. Before a couple can return home as a family, they must find a surrogate mother to partner with, and this is the cornerstone function of all surrogacy agencies. The fees vary with different countries, but all of them involve conducting searches, facilitating interviews, and ensuring a current and reliable medical diagnosis so that everyone has a clear idea of the ideal medical baseline before the surrogacy journey begins.
The specific task of finding a suitable surrogate mother, helping establish the partnership, and maintaining the rapport is critical to any successful surrogacy. Looking at the cost that some agencies require, many couples may try to go the independent route and try on this role themselves. However, this is a time-consuming activity that requires a lot of experience and due diligence to go smoothly. Couples that fail to appreciate the level of thoroughness reliable agencies undertake on their behalf for searching, researching, and confirming suitable surrogates often experience great difficulty and setbacks when they endeavor to do this themselves.
For some agencies, this is where their role in the surrogacy ends. For others, however, this is only the beginning, where more expenses can come into play.
Once a surrogate mother has been found, agreements established, and legal contracts drawn out, the next stage is the actual impregnation. Depending on the type of fertilization required, this can be as simple as artificial insemination or as elaborate as In Vitro Fertilization, which requires a quality medical lab to supervise the fertilization of the donor egg and sperm and then successfully implant the fertilized egg inside the surrogate mother.
While artificial insemination can be attempted by people themselves, the results are always better when administered by medical professionals. On the other hand, the IVF technique requires so much specialized equipment and medical experience that only a proper medical facility can undertake it with any hope of success. Some surrogate agencies abroad may have alliances with such facilities. In some cases, the facility itself may be one aspect of a larger surrogacy operation, committed to serving couples with a dream to have a “traditional” child in the sense that the baby is a direct genetic descendant of the hopeful couple, the only difference being that baby gestated in someone else’s womb.
For agencies who offer fertilization services, this is an additional cost above finding the right surrogate mother, but if it is a reputable facility and is complemented by diligent medical check-ups for the surrogate mother to ensure her good health and that of the baby, then this is a cost well spent.
An additional consideration that may require more investment is settling the legal status of a newborn before returning to the intended country of residence. Different countries have specific requirements for granting citizenship, and often, these rules are very different for children not considered born by biological parents. Without considering this legal preparation, a child may have a “stateless” citizenship status and not be allowed to enter the country of residence.
This usually requires the work of a legal firm to sort out, meaning that hopeful parents must either research their options or, in some cases, leave it to the surrogacy agency if they already have the resources and legal experience working with couples abroad to ensure that citizenship requirements for their country are met before returning there. It’s important to understand specific national requirements, as what may apply to the United Kingdom, for example, would not be the same as the United States.
In reality, the cost of a surrogacy agency abroad depends on whether they are strictly there to facilitate finding a surrogate mother of offer additional services that a hopeful family will need on their journey to having a baby.