Not every couple that decides to start a family has the option of going the route of traditional pregnancy. For example, a woman with medical issues such as a heart condition could jeopardize both her life and the life of a baby if she risks pregnancy. In situations like this, however, there are alternatives, such as surrogacy, where another woman deemed medically viable agrees to become pregnant on behalf of a couple.
In recent years, the popularity of this solution has grown, but one reason for this is the advantages that some couples enjoy if they choose to go abroad and undertake their surrogacy journey in regions such as Europe. Here are the stages of surrogacy that couples may need to consider if European surrogacy is something they are contemplating.
Researching Countries, Clinics & Agencies
The first stage is narrowing down possibilities and making a choice. This comes down to first understanding what your surrogacy needs are and then applying them to the available choices in different countries. Some countries, for example, do not allow compensated surrogacies, where the surrogate mother receives significant financial recognition for her role. As a result, in those countries, available surrogate mother pools are inevitably lower than those countries that do allow compensated surrogacy, so if wanting to have a lot of choice for potential candidates is important, then countries like the United Kingdom are crossed off your list.
Similarly, language should also be an issue. This is not necessarily dependent on the country itself so much as whether the agency or clinic you want to deal with is capable of interacting with you in your preferred language. If you speak English and the agency is based in a non-English speaking country, there may still be liaisons and other staff available who are fluent in your language. Whether it is Mandarin Chinese or Spanish, if a clinic can’t communicate with you in the speech and text you are accustomed to, this dramatically reduces your chances of a satisfying outcome.
Once you’ve settled on a clinic or agency, it’s time to establish communications. In many cases, you’ll have made some preliminary inquiries, so this often won’t be a “cold call” so much as a more affirmative communication to lay the groundwork for the surrogacy.
At this point, you should be asking any questions you may have about your surrogacy needs, looking at timelines, and, of course, outlining finances and tentatively scheduling travel dates. However, the most important communications will be regarding the next stage.
Finding A Surrogate
In most cases, hopeful families will choose from an available pool of eligible surrogate mother candidates. With a reputable agency or clinic, all the candidates will have been previously vetted to ensure both medical and lifestyle suitability, so, for example, not only will a candidate be physically healthy, but also have previous childbirth experience, as well as a clean lifestyle with no drug or alcohol abuse that would endanger the pregnancy.
Initial steps may be done through online profiles and photos, but eventually, as a hopeful family settles on a surrogate mother, it will be time to communicate. While phone calls and video chats are essential both before and during the pregnancy, traveling to meet personally with the surrogate mother at this juncture is often highly recommended.
The next stage is getting the surrogate mother pregnant according to the preferred method of the hopeful family. This may be traditional artificial insemination, using the surrogate mother’s egg, or in vitro fertilization, where the hopeful parents’ egg and sperm are fertilized in a lab and implanted in the surrogate mother.
Regardless of the method used, at this stage, impregnation is undertaken and then confirmed.
Now, the pregnancy is underway. Hopeful parents may either periodically visit the surrogate mother during this period or maintain regular contact via telephone, email, video chat, and other methods. Periodic checkups with an obstetrician are scheduled, and the surrogate mother adjusts her activity and lifestyle as the pregnancy progresses.
Of course, during this period, the surrogate mother’s living and medical expenses are covered by the hopeful parents as attempting to work to support herself and the baby financially may put the baby’s health at risk.
As the day of the expected birth approaches, the hopeful family returns to the surrogate mother’s country to try to be present for the birth. The surrogate mother needs to know that she has the support of the hopeful family, and of course, the hopeful family should want to be there for their child’s birthday.
Upon birth and the expected medical evaluations to ensure health, the proper legal protocols should be followed, depending on the country of residence the family will be returning to. Without knowing that legal procedures are required and following them, there is a chance an arriving baby will not be granted citizenship or admitted into the country.
For hopeful couples that carefully proceed at each stage, the chances of a successful surrogacy in Europe are that much higher.