Surrogacy, also known as surrogate motherhood, is an option for childbirth where a woman agrees to be the recipient of a fertilized egg. The egg may be her own, or it may come from a donor, but once she’s has been implanted with that egg, she then undertakes a normal pregnancy, watching her health, getting proper medical supervision for the child, and eventually giving birth to a baby nine months later. Upon birth, that baby then meets his or her actual parents, the hopeful family that was unable to conceive and birth a child naturally, who then sought the services of a surrogate mother to make their dreams come true.
However, surrogacy is not always something that can be done in the area that a family lives in. In the province of Quebec, in Canada, for example, the provincial government has completely banned any kind of surrogacy. It means if a woman who agrees to be a surrogate mother changes her in mind, and decides to keep the child, the government will protect her decision. Quebec’s provincial government only recognizes the birth mother as a parent with legal custody.
In other countries, certain types of surrogacy, such as traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate mother uses her own egg for fertilization may be legal. But if a couple wishes to use their own egg and sperm for gestational surrogacy, and a child that is 100% a genetically “theirs,” that may not be legal in their country of residence.
This is why for some hopeful families, even if there’s a willingness and financial ability to support a surrogate mother experience, it may not be possible to do it in the country of residence. It’s not uncommon for people with the means to engage in surrogacy to finance a long-term “project” to do it outside of their country of residence.
However, doing so means that additional expenses may be incurred. One of the biggest additional expenses is going to be the cost of air travel itself, especially if there are going to be multiple trips. However, the costs of surrogacy abroad can—and will—go far beyond just additional traveling expenses. Choosing surrogacy abroad can raise a budget based on the goals a hopeful family has for their surrogacy experience.
One big cost that can add substantially to surrogacy abroad is the decision to go with gestational surrogacy. For some hopeful parents, it’s very important that a baby has “the right genes,” and in some cases, this means the DNA of the hopeful parents themselves. It means that genetically, there’s no doubt that the child belongs to the parents, even under scientific analysis.
However, gestational surrogacy brings with it many additional processes. Both the sperm and the egg must be collected, and it is one type of cost if the specimens can be collected “on site” from the mother and father. In other cases, such as for a man or woman that had medical treatments that rendered them infertile, the sperm and/or egg may have already been collected and stored, frozen, in a “cryobank” at some other location. This means that the specimens must be safely retrieved, transported to the country where surrogacy is taking place, and prepared for in vitro fertilization. All of this brings with it additional costs.
Screening & Selection
Another cost that will need to be considered is the selection process for finding a surrogate mother. Some surrogate mother situations involve a woman that the hopeful family already knows agreeing to take on the surrogate role. But in situations where surrogacy is being undertaken in another country, it’s normally not realistic or feasible to bring the surrogate mother to that country, to pay for her lodging, and handle the administrative requirements to allow her to legally stay in that country for nine months, as there may be visa considerations in such a scenario.
So the usual approach is to find a surrogate within the host country. This means an additional cost will be borne for finding medically and psychologically fit candidates who are the right age, mindset, and, most important of all, have the medical requirements to accept a fertilized egg and safely carry it to term.
Finally, the most important cost that a hopeful family may need to worry about is the additional legal cost. Depending on the country a family comes from, and the country that surrogacy occurs in, the child that is born may legally belong to the new family, but that child may not automatically get the citizenship of the family’s country of origin conferred on him or her. In other words, the child is “stateless” and may not necessarily be accepted at a border or airport of a country upon return.
This means that some care—and expense—must be exercised by an experienced legal team, to ensure that when the family is ready to return to their country of residence, the child will become a citizen.