It’s natural for two people who’ve decided to spend the rest of their lives together to take that next step and start a family. And while many take the traditional route of the woman naturally becoming pregnant then giving birth to a baby, not everyone can take the conventional option. Some people have medical conditions that put them and their babies at risk during pregnancy. Others can no longer carry a baby to term due to life-saving surgeries like hysterectomies to fight cancer that involves removing the uterus.
For these couples, there are alternatives like adoption and surrogacy. It depends on a couple’s priorities, but for some, surrogacy is the preferred option because it allows them to have a newborn baby of their own. In some cases, the baby can even still be a direct genetic descendant of the hopeful parents.
Taking things a step further, surrogacy is a popular choice for some, and it can sometimes mean traveling beyond the country of residence to make a surrogacy journey a literal one taking place in another country. There are often several reasons for doing this, such as enjoying more choices or getting more value for money thanks to currency differences. But for couples thinking about surrogacy and choosing to take it abroad, here are some factors to consider when structuring the costs for this experience.
The cost structure’s first and most obvious component will be factoring in travel. Realistically, this is something that couples will need to account for more than once. Ideally, several times would be possible. While some day-to-day “housekeeping” activities can be conducted through email, telephone, or even online video chats, certain milestones, such as meeting with potential surrogate mother candidates, arranging the final confirmation, occasional visits over the pregnancy period, and, of course, coming for the birth of the baby and subsequent return to the intended country of residence should all be part of the budget.
Because of how important and intimate the surrogacy experience is, it’s always better to have more personal meetings, understand the dynamics in interactions, and support the surrogate mother during her journey. And of course, hopefully, parents should be present at the birth of their child and return to their home; these are not things that should be left to proxies.
Plan appropriately in the travel budget for several visits and the food and accommodation that will be part of this journey.
Some people choose surrogacy abroad because they can enjoy more choices through compensated surrogacy. “Altruistic surrogacy” is a common form of authorized surrogacy in many countries, but it means that surrogate mothers operate on a volunteer basis, getting compensated only for their living and medical expenses. Because of this, fewer women are willing to undergo the demanding journey of surrogate pregnancy.
On the other hand, compensated surrogacy means women receive significant financial recognition for their important role, which can often make a big difference in their lives. As a result, those countries that legalize compensated surrogacy often offer much more choices for available, medically suitable women.
If you want more choices for your surrogacy journey, factoring in the cost of compensating the surrogate mother is another significant element of your budget.
Special Medical Procedures
Another common factor in the cost structure for surrogacy abroad is when the hopeful family would like to have specific medical procedures used. The most popular option is “In Vitro Fertilization,” or IVF. In this procedure, the egg of the hopeful mother and a sperm donation from the hopeful father are fertilized in a lab. Upon confirmation of fertilization, that egg is then implanted in the surrogate mother instead of the usual artificial insemination of donor sperm with her own egg.
The result of IVF is that the baby is born a “true genetic descendant” of the hopeful family, sharing 50% of the genetic traits of both the hopeful mother and father. This means that genetically speaking, the child is the offspring of the parents, with the only difference being gestation in another woman’s uterus.
There may be additional costs associated with this. For example, if either hopeful parent has a chronic condition in their family medical history, such as cystic fibrosis, or Huntington’s disease, these disorders always run the risk of being inherited by a baby. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is a special screening technique. With PGD, multiple eggs are fertilized and then screened. If any eggs show the markers for hereditary diseases, they are not used; only a fertilized egg free of the conditions will be implanted.
There may also be associated costs with the legal protocol. Becoming a parent through surrogate motherhood does not automatically confer citizenship upon the newborn with the intended country of residence. In some instances, depending on the country in question, with proper legal preparations ahead of time, a baby could be declared “stateless” and, lacking any formal citizenship recognition, not be allowed to enter the country of residence.
Plan to allocate some budget toward handling the legal issues that can sometimes surround surrogate births to ensure a safe journey home.