Surrogacy is an alternative for having a baby that some couples choose to pursue. It’s the act of letting another, medically suitable woman agree to become pregnant and carry a baby to term. Nine months later, upon birth, that newborn is united with the couple, and a new life together as a family starts.
However, surrogacy has many options, and the people that choose surrogacy have different needs. As a result, there are surrogacy clinics in countries all over the world, and it ‘s possible for hopeful couples to work with surrogacy clinics abroad instead of remaining in their country of residence. But why would they do this? And what kind of criteria would be used to find the right surrogacy clinic in the right country?
The answer, as always, depends on what a hopeful family needs during their surrogacy journey.
The Choice Issue
One of the earliest questions a hopeful couple must answer is how many choices they want in potential surrogate mother candidates, and are they willing to invest in that?
Depending on your country, surrogacy of any sort may not be legal at all, such as in France or Germany, or surrogacy is permitted, but only “altruistic surrogacy,” such as in Canada. Altruistic surrogacy means that surrogate mothers agree to become pregnant for voluntary reasons. While they obviously receive financial coverage for their medical and maybe living expenses, that’s as far as spending goes, and they agree to become pregnant based on generosity and compassion. In such situations, the number of women willing to donate their time and bodies to such an endeavor tends to be much smaller.
Then there are countries where “compensated surrogacy” is permitted, which means that a surrogate mother, besides having living and medical expenses covered, can receive potentially sizable financial recognition for her role as a surrogate. In countries where clinics offer compensated surrogacy, the pool of available candidates tends to be much higher than in countries that do not.
For couples that would like to have more choice and are willing to invest, it’s crucial to look at the types of surrogacy permitted in other countries. If your country doesn’t permit compensated surrogacies, but this is the style you prefer, look to countries with clinics that legally offer it, such as Georgia in Eastern Europe.
Comprehension should always be a major factor when looking at clinics in other countries. While English is generally considered the world’s lingua franca, there may be a preference to communicate in other languages with clinic personnel, such as French, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese. Language fluency is not strictly required for the surrogate mother, though it definitely makes things easier for everyone. However, being able to communicate with the clinic staff effectively is crucial. Without being able to handle phone calls or even read emails, or financial information in a language you’re comfortable with, the surrogacy experience can become an ordeal.
When looking at surrogacy clinics in other countries, always establish what languages the staff can accommodate. Do not take any chances on communication issues with something as delicate and important as a surrogate pregnancy.
Another consideration for finding the right surrogacy clinic for you is the type of facilities you may need for a successful surrogacy. If your choice is to go with traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate mother’s egg is used in combination with donated sperm, this gives couples the widest possible selection, as traditional surrogacies can be carried out at many clinics.
However, if there’s a need for something more specialized, such as an IVF or In Vitro Fertilization, that requires lab-supervised fertilization of a donor egg and sperm, then implantation in the surrogate mother, this narrows the choices considerably. Successful IVF procedures require modern, safe, world-class facilities, which not every country can offer. Outside the United States, a handful of other countries have the facilities to manage this safely. Once again, Georgia is one such country. However, the IVF procedure also brings with it a host of other possible considerations, such as the need for preimplantation genetic diagnosis if there’s a need to screen fertilized eggs for possible inherited congenital conditions such as Down’s Syndrome or cystic fibrosis. There may also be a need for premium logistics to safely transport cryogenically preserved samples from other lab storage facilities worldwide.
A final factor to consider when looking at surrogacy clinics worldwide is whether they are prepared to deal with matters of international legality. Newborns are not automatically granted citizenship upon arrival at the intended country of residence. This is especially true if the returning mother was not previously pregnant.
In these cases, steps often must be taken to ensure the newborn is granted citizenship. Clinics that fail to do this risk having a baby declared “stateless” and thus not allowed to enter the country. Ensure that a clinic has the understanding and readiness to address this.