Deciding to start a family is a major decision for any couple, but for some, the challenges are significant right from the start. It’s not just the challenge of preparing for a life with a new baby that must be addressed, even conceiving and giving birth to a child can be a huge obstacle. For some women, medical conditions such as heart disorders may put both themselves and a child at risk if they attempt pregnancy, so they are recommended against doing so. Other women can’t have children at all due to surgical procedures such as hysterectomies that remove their uterus to prevent the spread of cancer.
One alternative to this is to consider the route of surrogacy, where another woman agrees to become pregnant on behalf of a couple hoping to start a family. When the baby is born, that infant is then united with the intended parents, and life as a family can begin.
However, sometimes the decision is made to undertake the surrogacy process in another country entirely. But why would a couple do this? What are the pros? What are the cons?
For some, one of the biggest reasons to go abroad is to have more legal choices about their surrogacy. In the most extreme cases, such as in nations like France and Germany, surrogacy of any kind isn’t permitted at all, meaning there is simply no way to undertake it in the country of residence.
For many others, however, it is about having more choices. Most countries legally permit surrogacy, but the most commonly permitted form is “altruistic” surrogacy. This type of surrogacy means the surrogate mother is allowing herself to become pregnant on an entirely voluntary basis. Any financial compensation is strictly for necessities such as medical costs of the pregnancy and birth that she should not be expected to bear. As to be imagined, when the only reward for agreeing to become pregnant is knowing that another couple has been helped, the number of women willing to volunteer their time and bodies is a small pool.
Other countries, however, permit “compensated surrogacies.” This means the surrogate mother’s critical role in the process receives ample financial recognition. In countries that allow compensated surrogacy, the number of medically suitable women willing to agree to this role is much larger, meaning that intended parents have more choice in picking the right surrogate mother to work with.
Con: Travel Expenses
Of course, for anyone who decides to go to another country for surrogate mother purposes, this also means having to allocate a budget for travel. This is crucial because working with a surrogate mother means supporting her, and that is not something that can always be done in an email, phone call, or virtual meeting. Couples should be willing to travel to the country of surrogacy to meet and select a surrogate mother, then travel back regularly throughout the pregnancy.
Of course, the most important portion of travel is heading for the country of surrogacy when the baby is about to be born. It is improper and illegal for a baby to be “delivered” to a land of intended residence; a couple must travel to support the surrogate mother during birth and, just as importantly, to return to the country of residence with the child.
Pro: Reduced Costs
While it’s true that a surrogacy abroad will add travel expenditures to a budget, in some ways, other costs may be reduced. While it’s widely agreed, for example, that America has some of the most advanced medical facilities on Earth, that also comes with a significant price tag, especially for those without health insurance coverage for the costs.
However, many other countries still have access to similar world-class medical facilities and personnel, but with the hefty American dollar price tag attached. For example, Georgia, a country in Eastern Europe, has top-tier facilities and experienced medical staff that routinely handle requests for surrogacy from abroad. However, because the country is not in North America or even a part of the European Union, the costs for access to this tier of medical care are noticeably lower than they would be in other nations, without compromising on quality.
Con: Extra Legal Preparation
Anyone considering surrogacy abroad should always consult with a legal expert on citizenship issues in preparation for the child’s birth. Leaving a country and coming back with a newborn you claim as your child is not simple, especially if the returning mother was not pregnant when she left.
Care must be exercised to ensure that proper legal custody of the child is prepared and ready for presentation upon return. Failure to do this may mean a returning infant is not granted citizenship and thus is not only “stateless” but is not allowed to enter the country with the couple. Never leave an infant’s legal status up to the last minute, especially when it comes to issues of citizenship.