Is International Surrogacy Risky for American Parents?

While surrogacy can be a risky process in and of itself, completing an international surrogacy offers more potential risks than surrogacy in the U.S.

Surrogacy is inherently a complicated process, involving many medical, legal and practical considerations that are not present in any other type of family-building option. Because surrogacy can be so complicated, there is always the possibility of associated risks with different steps along the way.

The goal in any surrogacy, therefore, is to minimize these risks as much as possible. That’s why surrogacy agencies like American Surrogacy take such extensive steps to protect your rights as intended parents throughout the process — to ensure your best chance at a successful and smoothly completed surrogacy journey.

When you’re considering the risks of surrogacy, it’s important to recognize that there’s a huge difference in risk level for surrogacies completed within the United States and those completed in another country. When you’re creating a family, it’s important that you feel safe and comfortable through every step of the process — but, as this article will show, an international surrogacy cannot always guarantee the trust you may need.

We encourage all intended parents to speak to our surrogacy specialists today for more information about which kind of surrogacy process might be right for them. It will also be necessary for intended parents considering an international surrogacy to speak to their international surrogacy agency, medical professional and lawyer for a full picture of what a surrogacy abroad will mean for them.

In the meantime, here are some general risks that are associated with an international surrogacy:

Legal Risks

Surrogacy is a rapidly advancing form of assisted reproductive technology, so it makes sense that government regulations and restrictions cannot keep pace with the ever-changing techniques of surrogacy. Therefore, many surrogacy laws and regulations imposed by governments are outdated and may not provide the protection that intended parents desire as they embark on their international surrogacy journey.

Surrogacy laws in countries outside of the United States vary widely; some countries don’t regulate the process at all, others only allow altruistic surrogacy, while still others limit the process to domestic intended parents. Therefore, finding another country that offers the protective legal regulations that the United States does is extremely difficult.

While you may choose a country for an international surrogacy because of its laws about surrogacy, there is always the possibility that those laws could change in the middle of your surrogacy process — delaying or even stopping your international surrogacy altogether. As surrogacy has become more popular, many countries have started to restrict or ban international surrogacy as they try to develop a more regulated process — a decision that can leave many intended parents out on a limb. There is always the legal risk that an international organization will impose certain regulations on surrogacy worldwide (like Hague Convention adoption requirements), which will also halt many international surrogacy programs until the regulations can be met.

In addition to the legal risk of ever-changing international surrogacy laws, when your baby is born in another country, there are more legal steps you must complete through the U.S. Department of State to protect your child’s rights as a U.S. citizen and your ability to bring them home after the surrogacy. If anything goes wrong between the Department of State and your international lawyer, your ability to bring your child home may be delayed indefinitely.

Financial Risks

Many times, American intended parents decide to pursue international surrogacy because it appears to be a cheaper option than domestic surrogacy. However, most intended parents are not aware of the possibility of hidden costs in international surrogacy.

It’s important to note that the fees you are quoted from an international surrogacy agency usually do not include costs for travel and legal services. These can be much higher than the same costs in a domestic surrogacy because of the distance needing to be traveled and the complexity of working with different national laws. You may also need to complete genetic testing to prove parentage for citizenship for your child, which is another unanticipated cost that can raise your total surrogacy expense.

While not as common a risk, there is always the potential for fraud and extortion in certain countries where you choose to complete a surrogacy. Language barriers can be difficult to overcome and, in addition to normal miscommunication, certain people serving as surrogacy professionals may take advantage of American intended parents by purposefully utilizing this language barrier.

Political Risks

Just like the United States, other countries deal with political instability — but, when you’re a foreign intended parent in those countries, those political shifts will affect you much more than they will a domestic intended parent. One only needs to look at the adoption situation in Russia to learn more about this; political instabilities and conflicts between Russia and the United States eventually led to a complete adoption ban. It’s not unreasonable to think that similar situations in other countries could result in a halting of surrogacy processes.

Even if no actual political repercussions come from political instabilities, Americans must always be aware of how they will be viewed in the country they choose to complete a surrogacy in — as this will play a huge role in their and their baby’s safety. Unfriendly political views of Americans can lead to risky surrogacy procedures in certain countries, and intended parents may fall prey to fraud, extortion and even physical danger because of it. Intended parents should not forget that many international countries today are under siege from various terrorism plots, so parents should greatly consider whether they want their unborn child to develop in that potentially unsafe environment.

Health Risks

On top of the other risks involved with international surrogacy, one of the greatest risks to consider is the health risks of completing a surrogacy in another country. While each country is different, many simply do not have the same standards when it comes to medical care, especially in countries where the majority of the population is poor. Unless you constantly visit the venues where the medical procedures are taking place, there will always be a degree of uncertainty when it comes to this part of your surrogacy process. Most countries do not have an organization like the American Society for Reproductive Medicine that lists standards for each medical facility to follow.

Along the same note, international surrogacy agencies may not thoroughly screen your surrogate for all potential health problems like American Surrogacy does. Again, this may simply be due to a lack of resources, but it can provide many risks for your unborn baby. In addition, disease outbreaks in the country where you choose to pursue surrogacy may not be easily treated and contained, and your surrogate may get sick without the means to obtain treatment quickly enough to prevent harm to your unborn child.

If you use a sperm or egg donor in another country, there is also the issue of anonymity and openness with the gamete donor. In the United States, you can find a donor who is willing to share medical records and potential contact down the line with your child born via a gamete donation, but using an international donor makes this possibility complicated or even impossible. International surrogacy with an international donor may open you up to an uncertain health history for your child, which can cause even more complications further down the road.

Deciding if International Surrogacy is Right for You

Clearly, there are many risks involved when you consider international surrogacy as American intended parents. While our surrogacy specialists do not presume to tell people what the right choice is for them, we do highly encourage all intended parents to fully research the pros and cons of international surrogacy before starting a process that will change their lives forever.

If you are ever in need of guidance while you consider international and domestic surrogacy, you can always speak to our surrogacy specialists today at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).