Deciding to start a family is normal for many people, but some couples have serious obstacles that make this anything but easy. Medical conditions, such as a heart disorder can put both a woman and baby at risk during pregnancy, so it’s not recommended for such women to become pregnant. Other women have had surgery, like hysterectomies, that saved them from cancer but required surgically removing the uterus, so pregnancy is no longer possible.
While solutions like adoption exist, a popular alternative is a surrogacy, where another woman, medically evaluated for suitability, agrees to become pregnant on behalf of an intended couple. Once the pregnancy is confirmed and the normal 9-month period runs its course, the baby, upon birth, is united with the intended parents, and at that point, the normal path of starting a family can begin.
However, different people will have different needs and goals for surrogacy. That means that different agencies and clinics may offer services not always appropriate to what couples want. How do you choose the surrogacy clinic that best represents your interests? You need to consider these factors.
How much choice do you want? For some, a surrogate candidate may be a close friend or another family member, such as a sister. In this case, having a wide selection of suitable candidates isn’t an issue. However, more choice is better for others, but not every clinic—or country—can meet this need.
Some countries only allow “altruistic surrogacies.” This type of surrogacy is voluntary, where the surrogate mother is only compensated for her living and medical expenses. These women volunteer their time and bodies entirely out of generosity, which, unfortunately, means far fewer women are willing.
On the other hand, “compensated surrogacies” are where surrogacy candidates receive significant financial recognition for their role in surrogacy. Because there is a substantial reward, many more women are willing to become surrogates for clinics and agencies that offer compensated surrogacies.
If you want more choices and are willing to invest, clinics that use compensated surrogacy will offer more options.
In addition to the financial nature of surrogacy, the techniques or procedures involved are other major factors. Traditional surrogacy is where the surrogate mother’s egg is used for fertilization, and simple artificial insemination from the intended father is used for the sperm. This is the most common and easily carried out form of surrogacy.
However, some couples would like to have a “traditional” newborn, in the sense that the child is 50% of the DNA of the intended mother and 50% of the father, exactly as in a traditional pregnancy. This desire is possible with in vitro fertilization. Here, the intended mother’s egg is donated and fertilized under lab supervision with the intended father. Once confirmed, the fertilized egg is then implanted in the surrogate mother. This choice is more expensive and requires specialized medical personnel and facilities to be carried out.
In more specific circumstances, sometimes donor eggs or sperm must be retrieved from cryogenic storage. A woman who has had her uterus removed may have harvested the eggs and stored them for future use. Or an intended father may have had surgery that affected the virility of sperm and so had sperm collected and frozen. In either case, stored donor samples must be carefully retrieved and transported to lab facilities to be safely used in a still viable state.
These choices require specific clinics with the access and expertise to liaise with relevant services and facilities. Not every clinic will be able to accommodate these needs, so be sure to check carefully if IVF procedures or egg/sperm retrieval and transport are part of your requirements.
Surrogacy can be a significant financial investment, but there are ways to be more cost-efficient. One of these is looking at clinics outside your country of residence, especially if you live in the United States. While being an advanced, first-world nation, the US is not the only one with this status in the world. Many other countries offer similar medical facilities and personnel levels without the excessive medical costs that are part of American medical services.
Clinics in other countries will have different pricing schemes without compromising medical quality and support. Look at clinics in other countries if you’re interested in getting more from your investment.
Different clinics may have other policies based on the surrogacy laws of their country. For example, some couples, such as same-sex, would mean that countries like Georgia would not provide services, as their laws stipulate only heterosexual couples may undertake surrogacy. It’s important for couples that don’t follow traditional paths to check carefully for such barriers.
Another issue is whether a clinic offers the legal services that ensure a newborn can return to the intended country of residence and receive citizenship. Without access to proper legal assistance, a child may be declared “stateless” and not allowed to enter a country.