How do surrogacy journeys differ in the UK and the US?

There are lots of reasons why UK intended parents look to the US for surrogacy.  The decision to go overseas for surrogacy is deeply personal and dependent on what key criteria need to be factored in.

What are the legal considerations?

At Brilliant Beginnings we are pleased that the Law Commission is reviewing surrogacy law here in the UK, although its work is likely to take several years to come to fruition.  The current law means that the woman who gives birth to a baby (and her spouse) are the legal parents. The parental order process extinguishes this responsibility and transfers parenthood to the intended parents. This is a post-birth process which means that everyone feels a sense of uncertainty until it is completed. Everyone in a UK surrogacy team (surrogates and intended parents) have to trust that they will follow through on their intentions. In reality things rarely go wrong if surrogacy teams have spent time setting things up properly, but for many the uncertainty is just too much.

The US legal system offers much more clarity and, whilst it is state-specific, the law is generally favourable to surrogacy. It offers certainty for all involved, through legally-enforceable agreements and defined routes to legal parentage either before or shortly after baby is born. This offers intended parents far more certainty, but importantly does the same for surrogates, and this is one reason why there are more surrogates in the US.

Do surrogates differ?

All surrogates are amazing, and it is important to make it clear that the vast majority of women deciding to be surrogates do so with one goal in mind: to give the gift of parenthood to someone else. This is no different in the US or UK, however in the US there are simply far more women deciding to become surrogates than in the UK. This is for a variety of reasons; awareness, legal certainty and excellent support from established organisations to name a few. This all means that whilst it can be very difficult to find a surrogate here in the UK, intended parents can look to the US and have more certainty about how long they might need to wait for that amazing woman to help. For many intended parents the thought of a wait of undetermined time here in the UK is just too much considering what they have often already been through.

What payments are made to surrogates?

Surrogates in the US get compensated for being a surrogate in addition to reimbursement for expenses. The amounts involved do vary, and budgeting for these is important. It is not the case however that this is the sole, or even primary, motivator for women considering being surrogates. Their motivations are invariably the same as those of women here in the UK. Intended parents should not feel that paying this extra in any way detracts from the amazing thing surrogates do.

What to consider with the distances involved?

In reality it is unlikely that intended parents will be able to visit a surrogate in the US as regularly as they would be able to within the UK. Intended parents keen to see and visit their surrogate regularly, and attend all scans and appointments during pregnancy, will have to think carefully about the logistics of this. For clinical appointments there are many ways to manage this, and there are US clinics that are well versed in looking after international intended parents. This is a big compromise that many intended parents make however, and likewise is something that needs to be clear from the outset to ensure that the surrogate’s preferences here are also met. This does not mean there is no relationship. Many of the intended parents going to the US who we support at Brilliant Beginnings have close and continued relationships with the women who help them, and it is wonderful to see how distance can be overcome in so many wonderful and touching ways.

How does clinic experience and availability of donors vary?

Standards of clinics vary both in the UK and in the US, and it can be difficult to find a clinic that is well versed in surrogacy, and has good success rates. With a US clinic it is also important to ensure that the clinic has experience working with international intended parents. For intended parents looking for an egg donor to help them, USA donors are compensated, there is a lot of choice, short waits, and often the opportunity to meet the donor. In the UK there is significant variation between areas, and intended parents will often have to wait months for a donor, with the choice being far more limited.

What is the difference in cost?

Costs for surrogacy are higher in the US than the UK. There are a number of different factors that contribute to this: health insurance and surrogate compensation to name a couple. It is really important to us to help intended parents have an accurate budget. For a more in depth look into costs and indeed any of the differences, and things to consider for a surrogacy journey, Brilliant Beginnings offers an Options Review meeting. See more details on this here.

We also run frequent free to attend events focusing on different routes. Register here for our upcoming US event. 

To find out more about BB, how we work, our team or ask any questions, contact us at or call us on 020 7050 6875.

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