For many couples, deciding to start a relationship evolves into beginning a new life and starting a family together. However, some couples can’t just take the traditional route of pregnancy and childbirth. Medical conditions may put a woman at risk, or past life-saving surgery, like a hysterectomy that removes a cancerous uterus, may now make it impossible to become pregnant.
There are alternatives to this, such as adopting a homeless child or, for those that want a newborn, surrogacy. Surrogacy is where another woman, carefully evaluated for medical suitability, agrees to become pregnant on behalf of an intended couple. Once the pregnancy has run its course, the baby is born, and that child is then united with the independent parents.
However, while a viable option for some couples, surrogacy is better left pursued in a country other than the one of the residence, even when surrogacy is legal. There are several reasons why couples might choose surrogacy in another country, which is why it’s important for both couples and surrogacy agencies looking to liaise with surrogacy agencies abroad to ask the right questions and check to see that proper factors have been considered.
Surrogacy, though well-understood throughout the world, is not the same globally. Some countries like Germany and France have banned any type of surrogacy, meaning there are no surrogacy agencies to work with in those countries. Residents of these countries have no choice but to seek surrogacy in countries other than their own.
Other countries have specific types of surrogacy legally permitted while banning others. England, for example, only permits “altruistic surrogacy.” This means that surrogate mothers volunteer themselves, receiving compensation only for living expenses and medical costs. Compensated surrogacy, on the other hand, provides significant financial recognition to surrogate mothers. Unsurprisingly, countries that permit compensated surrogacies have a far larger pool of suitable surrogate mother candidates to choose from. Whether an agency and the agency’s country permit compensated surrogacies will be an important question for couples that want as much choice as possible.
An important question couples should ask is whether a country and the clinic within the country have the medical ability and facilities to deal with the type of surrogacy a couple may be interested in. Any country where surrogacy is permitted will likely be equipped to deal with a traditional surrogacy where the surrogate mother’s egg is used. Only artificial insemination of sperm, usually from the intended father, is required.
On the other hand, a couple may wish to use the in vitro fertilization technique, where a donor egg and donor sperm are fertilized in a lab. This is a popular choice for couples wishing for a newborn that, in the “traditional” sense, has the DNA of both the intended mother and father, just as if that baby were born in the intended mother’s womb instead. However, IVF procedures require the appropriate lab facility and proper skilled personnel and equipment for the genetic screening before implantation and the implantation itself.
An important factor that couples must consider while looking at surrogacy clinics abroad is sufficient support. Is a clinic experienced in dealing with foreign clients? Will there be issues of communication, or are they prepared to interact with you in your preferred language, whether that is English, Spanish, or Mandarin? Will they be able to accommodate your needs and help you with coordinating travel plans as you arrive and leave the country over the pregnancy period and return for the birth?
Most importantly for support, will they have the experience to help you with legal issues in surrogacy surrounding a newborn, such as citizenship? A surrogate baby born in another country and returning with intended parents isn’t always automatically accepted as a citizen upon return to the intended country of residence. In some cases, legal procedures must be enacted ahead of time to ensure a baby that is born is not “stateless” and thus barred from entry into the country.
For some, the most pressing concern will be cost-efficiency. The United States, for example, has a full suite of first-world medical facilities and skilled medical professionals. However, paying in American dollars, people living outside the USA often means significantly inflated costs. Other nations offer similar service levels at considerably lower prices than what an American facility or agency would charge.
If you are trying to be as efficient with your budget as possible, look at the different continents and the specifics of their currency value to see how they align with your budgetary needs. Places like South America are alternatives, but so are nations in Europe, such as Georgia, where first-world status medical personnel and facilities are available. If they are not in the European Union, such as Georgia, they use currency like the Lari instead of Euros or American dollars.
Doing research and understanding your needs is crucial to ensure that they meet your requirements when you look at clinics abroad.