International Surrogacy: All About Surrogacy Abroad

international surrogacy pregnancies

Thinking about international surrogacy? ilaya is here to help you through the ‘What, where and why?’ of pursuing surrogacy abroad…

Surrogacy – no matter where you do it – requires lots of patience and planning. Knowing the process, the legalities, and indeed the challenges are all important steps to finding a surrogate to carry your baby.

Granted, international surrogacy can complicate this process further. Logistical considerations alone can cause concern. And that’s not to mention figuring out the local laws and finding the right surrogacy clinic for you. But then, nothing worth having is ever easy and having a baby always takes time. With a reward so great, it’s worth exploring your options before giving up on the family you crave.

International surrogacy options can also have many advantages. Surrogacy abroad can prove more cost-effective, even with travel back and forth included. More importantly, international surrogacy can help negate restrictive laws in your country. A good surrogacy agency or clinic will be able to help you navigate bringing your baby back home, so it’s worth consulting one as soon as possible.

international surrogate mother

What is international surrogacy and how can it help me?

If you’re asking yourself if international surrogacy is the right path for you, think about your chances of building a family without it. If domestic surrogacy options are restricted or unaffordable, pursuing surrogacy abroad might just be the thing to do.

What is international surrogacy? Just like domestic surrogacy, the vast majority of commercial surrogacy options have moved towards gestational surrogacy. This means using the genetic material from the intended parents, or donors – just never the surrogate’s own eggs. Using this, an embryo is created and implanted it into a surrogate mother who’ll carry the baby to term overseas.

International surrogacy is also almost exclusively compensated rather than altruistic. This means that the surrogate mother is compensated for her time and loss of income. Countries that allow foreign couples to engage in surrogacy programs generally have specific laws permitting this kind of surrogacy.

Compensated surrogacy abroad isn’t without controversy however. An increasing number of countries have banned this practice. Critics claim that employing surrogate mothers from poorer countries amounts to exploitation. It’s important to consider this in weighing up where to pursue surrogacy abroad. A select number of countries strike a balance between forward-thinking laws and proper regulation, giving intended parents peace of mind that their choice is both legal and ethical.

Where is international surrogacy possible?

Once you’ve decided to explore overseas surrogacy options, the next thing to decide is where. Our handy interactive map below indicates the ease with which foreign intended parents can engage in a surrogacy program. It also provides information on the local laws, correct as of November 2018.

Surrogacy laws by country

In the major English-speaking countries, only parts of the United States allow for commercial surrogacy arrangements – US surrogacy varies from state to state. California, for example, is a surrogacy-friendly state where the practice has been popular for years. A court of law will award the parental rights to the intended parents. And – unlike the Eastern European options – the laws here recognize same-sex couples. In the UK, Canada and Australia only altruistic surrogacy is permitted for residents. This ends the possibility of international intended parents to seek a surrogate in these countries.

There are several options for surrogacy in Europe, but some are better than others. Although outside of the European Union, surrogacy in Ukraine is made possible by progressive laws. Ukraine allows the intended parents to be listed on the birth certificate and also have strict laws on who can be a surrogate or egg donor to tackle exploitation. Advanced and well-established medical facilities have seen Ukraine become one of the most popular destinations for surrogacy abroad in recent years.

Other European countries that allow foreign couples to engage in compensated surrogacy include Georgia, Russia and Albania. It’s worth noting that Albania don’t have specific laws on foreign surrogacy however. Elsewhere, Greece and Portugal do allow foreign couples to engage a surrogate, but only on an altruistic basis. This, of course, makes finding a surrogate in these countries that bit harder.

Meanwhile, former surrogacy hotspots like India and Thailand have begun restricting surrogacy programs to residents. Surrogacy in China has now been totally banned. Indeed, compensated surrogacy remains completely illegal in the vast majority of countries around the world.

International surrogacy: Travel & costs

It can be difficult to pin down exactly how much money surrogacy abroad will cost you, and there are plenty of mixed messages out there. On the one hand, travel costs will invariably be more expensive than a domestic surrogacy. You’ll need to travel to your surrogate’s home country for the signing of the legal agreement or to initiate the IVF process, and for the birth of your child, at the very least.

On the other hand, the basic cost of procedures in your home country might far exceed the equivalent treatments in a less developed country. What’s lost on air fare therefore might quickly be recouped in the money you’ll save on the surrogacy itself. Money isn’t everything, but it’s important to weigh this up before making any agreement.

When researching the costs of international surrogacy, the thing to bear in mind is how likely the costs are to escalate beyond the initial quoted price. Rare though complications are, it’s much more comforting as an intended parent to know you have a contingency plan.

Of course, these issues can be easily negated when dealing with a well-established agency or clinic. This is what makes finding the right clinic absolutely paramount when engaging in surrogacy overseas.

ukraine surrogacy abroad

Why choose surrogacy abroad?

International surrogacy programs are ideal for those who have exhausted all domestic surrogacy options. Whether you’ve been priced out of domestic surrogacy (in the US for example) or laws never allowed it in the first place (as in the UK), overseas surrogacy offers a viable alternative.

While surrogacy abroad might not be your first choice, it might just be your last great hope at having a baby. Since 2011, ilaya have welcomed couples from around the world who have been frustrated by the surrogacy programs and fertility options in their home countries. Unafraid to take the challenging fertility cases, ilaya have offered hope to hundreds of intended parents. And the number keeps growing!

If you’d like to find out more about how ilaya can help you, contact us here to set up your free first consultation.

Further reading on international surrogacy

If you’re still making up your mind on whether to pursue an overseas surrogacy program, that’s understandable. It’s a big commitment, after all. It can be helpful to know that you’re not alone, and to read about the experiences of other intended parents. See the websites below for support and helpful links:

Families Through Surrogacy

International Surrogacy Forum