Some couples may have medical or other circumstances that prevent starting a new life as a family through traditional childbirth. Surrogacy, however, is one alternative to getting over these obstacles. Surrogacy is when another woman who has been medically evaluated as suitable agrees to become pregnant on behalf of a hopeful couple. Once the pregnancy runs its course and the baby is born, the infant is united with the hopeful parents, and a new life as a family can begin together.
However, not all types of surrogacy are the same, and in some cases, a couple may choose to work with a surrogacy clinic outside their country of residence. There are several reasons for choosing this path, and this is how couples should prepare for it if they consider this journey.
Lock Down Your Surrogacy Goals
One of the most important preparatory steps a couple can take to ensure the greatest chance of success is firm up concrete goals. It’s not enough to want to go the surrogacy route; couples need a specific idea of what kind of resolution they want, which will determine what type of surrogacy should be pursued, as there is more than one type.
Couples that want a newborn without any specific genetic characteristics other than being healthy may find traditional surrogacy more suitable and less expensive. Traditional surrogacy involves using the surrogate mother’s egg and any suitable donor sperm, which may come from the hopeful father or some other source if preferred. However, this type of surrogacy uses artificial insemination, a standard, easy-to-implement procedure.
Other couples may want to have a child that is a genetic descendant of both hopeful parents or wish to use very specific egg and sperm donors other than the surrogate mother. Under these circumstances, In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, is the procedure needed. This requires access to a clinic with suitable IVF lab facilities, or a partnership with such a lab, to facilitate this need. There may also be an additional need for other related services, such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis or special logistics services to deliver cryogenically stored donor samples.
Once you know what kind of surrogacy you want, you can prepare for it by approaching those clinics that meet your requirements in different countries. The net is “wider” for traditional surrogacy, whereas more research and investment are required for IVF surrogacy.
A crucial aspect of preparing for surrogacy abroad is scheduling the time and making travel arrangements. In the best-case scenario, a hopeful couple will meet personally with staff at a clinic and, perhaps more importantly, will take the time to meet and interact with the surrogate mother. Meeting with potential surrogate candidates is important, but once the selection has been made, it is crucial to establish and maintain a relationship with the surrogate mother.
Travel plans should be scheduled for events like egg or sperm donation, if required, as well as regular checks with the surrogate mother, if possible. Staying in touch can also be facilitated with phone calls, email, and virtual meetings, especially if COVID travel concerns are still an issue.
The most important travel date will be when the baby is due. Of course, no concrete estimate can be made on a baby’s delivery date with a guarantee. This is why taking a window of time off for this event is important. Being there for the actual birth can be one of the most important moments in a hopeful family’s start, so try hard to ensure that the scheduling can allow for this.
Another important aspect of preparation for surrogacy is looking into your country of residence’s legal requirements for granting citizenship. A newborn is only automatically granted citizenship in most cases if the birth occurs within the country of residence. This process is not automatic for parents—especially when the woman did not leave pregnant—who return to their country of residence with a newborn in hand.
Depending on the country, hopeful couples should consult the laws of their respective nation on the conferral of citizenship to returning infants. It’s important to consult with surrogacy clinics abroad to ensure that these legal requirements are known and addressed. If no contingencies are in place, a newborn can arrive at the country of residence and be designated “stateless” and not allowed to enter the country.
Communication Is Key
While speaking the same language as the surrogate mother isn’t strictly necessary, it is crucial to communicate with the surrogacy clinic. Ensure that one of the preparations you make is the ability to communicate in a language that you feel comfortable with. Even if English isn’t your first language, if you are reasonably fluent and the clinic can also use English, this is still a good foundation.
Regular contact, with transparency, updates, and an exchange between you, the clinic, and the surrogate mother, ensures a successful surrogacy.