Deciding to become parents through surrogacy is the first step in a long but incredibly rewarding journey to parenthood. In making this decision, Intended Parents (IPs) commit themselves to a set process of finding a surrogate mother, supporting her through pregnancy and – eventually – welcoming their new child or children into the world.
But while the process is always more or less the same, surrogacy programs can differ wildly. One important factor in deciding this is where your surrogate hails from. If you can’t pursue surrogacy closer to home, for whatever reason, surrogacy abroad is very often the most viable option for achieving your dream of becoming a parent. As an Intended Parent of a child being born in another country, there are of course a lot of important things to consider.
To that end, we sat down with ilaya’s Louise Riding, Regional Manager for English-speaking clients. ilaya are leading providers of surrogacy in Ukraine, assisting countless couples each year in becoming parents. Managing the entire process – from initial consultation to aftercare – ilaya are well placed to advise potential Intended Parents on the plus-points and pitfalls of surrogacy abroad…
Intended Parents FAQs: Interview with ilaya’s Louise Riding
What do you think is the most common mistake intended parents make when thinking about the surrogacy process?
LR: Many couples seeking surrogacy are, more often than not, in a rush to start the program and I think it is worth investing time in investigating all the options out there and reading through the fine details before committing to a process.
In my experience, there is also a big misconception that you can rush the process – many couples have a deadline to complete a process or certain dates they can travel to Kiev due to work commitments. And many think that it’s going to work first time – and while this does happen for some couples, it’s not always the case. Surrogacy programs take time and there are many different factors involved. A large part is up to nature!
Why is the use of surrogacy – particularly surrogacy abroad – on the rise?
LR: This is largely attributed to two main factors: Legislation and purchasing power.
Many couples live in countries that outright ban the practice of surrogacy. Some have an altruistic framework, but this leaves Intended Parents vulnerable as the legal mother is often considered the surrogate. Or there is no legislation at all, meaning it’s a complete grey area.
Another big reason is the economic factor; in the US programs can reach in excess of 200,000USD, so this is out of reach for most families. And lastly, although to a lesser degree, some people may decide to go abroad due to cultural reasons, in that they simply don’t have the support of their families.
How can intended parents best bridge the gap in distance between them and their surrogate based in another country?
LR: With modern technologies this is made easy, as couples can have daily contact with anyone in the world thanks to Whatsapp, video, Skype…
What is slightly more of an obstacle is the language barrier, but again this is easily overcome thanks to Google Translate or similar applications. And surrogacy providers often help bridge that gap by coordinating calls or assisting with translation.
How do you reassure intended parents that any legal issues will be handled smoothly?
LR: Any reputable provider will assist Intended Parents in submitting and obtaining the necessary documents they need in the country where surrogacy takes place, and the program is not considered complete until parents are back on home soil.
However, it’s important for parents to remember that they should inform themselves of the legal process for their country before they sign any agreements and that they keep up to date with changes to this process. The most sensible way to go about this would be to contact a specialist lawyer in their home country who can provide them with the necessary information.
Are there any happy milestones besides the eventual birth? What are the most rewarding moments?
LR: Absolutely! I think most parents probably don’t fully relax until the birth, but there are many beautiful moments during the process. Meeting the surrogate for the first time, the moment the pregnancy is confirmed, the first ultrasound scan and every single one after that – seeing the baby grow bigger and bigger!
What would your advice be to intended parents who have decided to try surrogacy but who aren’t sure where to begin?
LR: Firstly, gain a full understanding of the programme and what options are available to you before committing to any process.
Secondly. read the information (especially contracts) very carefully and make sure you ask potential providers any questions you have and you feel comfortable with the answers.
Thirdly, speak to other people who have been through surrogacy – there are many Intended Parent support groups online where people share their experiences. We also have a blog post with 5 Tips to Explain your Surrogacy to anyone who asks.
Last but not least, enjoy the process! Although the distance can prove challenging at times, creating a life – regardless of how it comes to be – is an amazing experience.
Further Reading for Intended Parents
If you’re just starting out on your surrogacy journey, you might want to get back to basics. When you’re searching for something like a Surrogacy for Dummies or Surrogacy 101, don’t forget to consult our main surrogacy page – from a simple surrogacy definition to a comparison of gestational and altruistic surrogacies, traditional and gestational, it should have all of the info you need.
If you’re looking to be inspired by an Intended Parents blog or two, American Surrogacy Blog has an excellent rundown of the best of them. And, when you are indeed ready to choose your surrogacy A-team, the Human Rights Campaign has a handy checklist for what to ask and look out for:
- Is the agency responsive to clients? For example, are they prompt in returning calls and e-mails?
- Is there more than one person who can respond if the parents’ primary contact is away or busy?
- Does the firm operate as a team?
- Regarding the screening of potential surrogates:
- Do they meet the surrogate in person?
- Do they evaluate her home environment or is the screening limited solely to a telephone or office interview?
- Do they do reference checks?
- Do they routinely do criminal background checks?
- What kind of information do they obtain about the surrogate candidate’s prior pregnancies to minimize the risk that this will be a high-risk pregnancy? (Source: Human Rights Campaign)