As an intended parent, you may be considering international surrogacy instead of domestic surrogacy within the United States. This may be for several reasons: You’ve heard it’s a cheaper process, can take less time to complete, and more.
However, the reality of international surrogacy is incredibly different from what you may have read online or heard about. While this kind of surrogacy was popular and successful in the last few decades, the truth is, international surrogacy today is a difficult and risky family-building process.
Before you decide on this path, we encourage you to read more about the reasons why international surrogacy may not be the right choice for you:
1. International Surrogacy Laws are Restrictive.
While each state within the U.S. has different surrogacy laws, the vast majority of the states allow for compensated surrogacy with a safe, regulated legal process. You will be hard pressed to find another country in the world where surrogacy is this safely regulated.
Many countries that once welcomed international surrogacy — like Mexico, India and Nepal — have now either greatly restricted or completely prohibited surrogacy for foreign intended parents. To pursue surrogacy in these states is risky and can set international intended parents up for failure and dire legal consequences.
Even in countries where surrogacy is legal, there are often many qualifiers. Compensated surrogacy may be illegal, surrogates may need to be related to intended parents, surrogacy may be illegal for LGBT intended parents, and more. Any intended parent should recognize the reality of international surrogacy laws in different countries before considering this path. Our surrogacy specialists encourage American intended parents to compare these laws to those of surrogacy-friendly states to understand exactly how the legal landscape of international surrogacy has changed.
2. International Surrogates May Be Exploited.
In the United States, there are laws to protect surrogates, and professional surrogacy programs require prospective surrogates to undergo screening and education before they can pursue this journey. You may not find the same safeguards in international surrogacy.
For years, surrogates in international countries were exploited by surrogacy professionals. Their financial situation forced them into this process, and they may not have known exactly what they were signing up for, due to a lack of higher education or any education at all. Because of these situations, many countries started to shut down their international surrogacy business.
However, if you decide to pursue surrogacy in a country that still allows you to, there is still the risk that your surrogate may not be choosing this path of her own free will and complete understanding. On the other hand, if you work with an American surrogacy agency like American Surrogacy, you can know your surrogate has been heavily screened to ensure she is mentally and physically ready for the process ahead of her.
3. Health Conditions and Facilities are Often Not Ideal.
Because surrogates in other countries may not be screened as thoroughly as those in the United States, there is also a health risk you must incur as an intended parent. You will have to trust that your surrogacy professional has found a surrogate who is medically safe to carry a pregnancy to term. Even those professionals that do screen medically may not screen her psychologically to ensure she understands and is comfortable with the medical risks of being a surrogate.
On the same note, if you choose a surrogacy abroad, you cannot be constantly updated on the medical status of your surrogate and her pregnancy. While surrogacy in the United States is governed by set medical standards, there are often no comparable standards in other countries. Professional medical care may not be as available to surrogates during their pregnancy, and you may not be able to have confidence in your surrogacy and medical professionals’ skills. Complications that can be easily handled in the United States could be incredibly dangerous in another country with less access to medical help.
4. Political Conditions Can Change Quickly.
Like with international adoption, international surrogacy is subject to the changing relations of countries. It’s not out of the ordinary for a country to change its laws to affect a particular country in retaliation to a diplomatic move, and you will always be at risk of that changing legislation when you choose to pursue an international surrogacy.
For example, families who were in the process of international surrogacy in Mexico were left in limbo when the country banned foreign intended parents in 2016. Whether or not their surrogates were pregnant, they were out thousands of dollars and a way to legalize any child born from the surrogacy process in that country. As surrogacy continues to be a controversial family-building method, it’s not unreasonable to expect these kinds of new restrictions in other countries moving forward.
5. It Can Actually Be More Expensive than Domestic Surrogacy.
Perhaps the biggest reason why intended parents consider international surrogacy is because they are led to believe it is cheaper than domestic surrogacy. This is not always true.
Like with surrogacies in the United States, the cost of an international surrogacy is directly correlated to the quality and quantity of services provided for the process. If an international surrogacy professional is offering a cheaper cost than a domestic one, consider all of the services involved. Odds are, your surrogate may not be receiving compensation for her services, or you will need to hire additional professionals to complete your international surrogacy — like an attorney to coordinate bringing home your internationally born child to the U.S. In addition, there is always a risk of hidden costs in international surrogacy — those not outlined in your professional’s services but that emerge as your surrogacy journey continues.
If you are curious how the cost of international surrogacy compares to domestic surrogacy, contact our surrogacy specialists for a full breakdown of costs with our agency. They can also discuss in greater detail the advantages of choosing domestic surrogacy over international — and why it may be a better overall choice for you.