International surrogacy options

At least half the children born through surrogacy to UK parents are born outside the UK. Brilliant Beginnings is the only UK surrogacy organisation to support both UK and international surrogacy options.

 

Find out your global surrogacy options

 

Surrogacy is global, but some options will be better than others for you, and some will be more viable based on your situation. We offer personalised Options Review meetings to help you decide on whether to stay in the UK or go overseas for surrogacy and, if you do look abroad, to decide on the right surrogacy route for you.

Should I stay in the UK or go overseas for surrogacy?

 

This is a personal question, the answer to which depends on your timescale, budget, attitude to risk and personal values. UK surrogacy may be less expensive (depending on the international surrogacy options you are considering). It also gives you the opportunity to be a full part of your surrogate’s pregnancy, gives you access to NHS care during the pregnancy and birth, and avoids many of the logistical and legal complexities of working with a surrogate overseas.  UK surrogacy also offers the opportunity of a close relationship with your surrogate, although that is not necessarily something you sacrifice by looking overseas, particularly if you go to the US or Canada where close relationships are also typical.

The most common hurdle for UK surrogacy is the uncertain timescale, which for many parents is a signficant factor.  Unfortunately there is a shortage of surrogates in the UK and realistically UK surrogacy is not achievable for everyone who needs the help of a surrogate within a reasonable timeframe. The other major reason why UK parents look overseas is because UK law does not recognise the intended parents as the legal parents of their child from birth. International surrogacy can offer a more structured process for finding a surrogate, along with the legal certainty of a recognised or enforceable surrogacy agreement.  Read more about our 2018 research with Cambridge University into why parents go overseas for surrogacy.

 

Which countries can I go to for surrogacy?

 

Different countries around the world take different approaches to surrogacy. In some, surrogacy is prohibited altogether (for example in most of continental Europe) which means that surrogacy services are not available and can even be a criminal offence.

In other countries, there is no law which specifically deals with surrogacy.  In some of these, surrogacy programmes have emerged, including in poorer countries like India, Thailand, Nepal and Cambodia.  We have seen a repeating pattern in such countries where surrogacy has become popular and has then (often very suddenly) been restricted by the country’s government following negative media attention or ethical concerns. Surrogacy services then move to another unregulated destination where the pattern repeats. Parents and surrogates part-way through a surrogacy process when it is shut down can be left uncertain and vulnerable, with pregnant surrogates concerned about being penalised and intended parents facing lost embryos and excruciating hurdles to bring their children home.  Pursuing surrogacy in an unregulated destination is therefore not something to embark on without fully evaluating the risk.

There are, however, some countries which have a legal framework which explicitly supports surrogacy by permitting surrogacy services and legally recognising the intended parents as the legal parents.  Some such surrogacy frameworks (such as those in the UK and South Africa) cater only for their own residents/citizens, but a few encompass international intended parents too and these are the countries which have become well-established surrogacy destinations.  Currently therefore the major international surrogacy options for UK parents are:

Surrogacy in the USA – accessible to couples (different-sex and same-sex, married and unmarried) and single parents.

Surrogacy in Canada – accessible to couples (different-sex and same-sex, married or unmarried) and single parents.

Surrogacy in the Georgia (and Ukraine)– only available to married different-sex couples.

 

Brilliant Beginnings supports relationship-based surrogacy and as such helps to project-manage international surrogacy journeys in the US through our US Surrogacy Pathway.

If you considering other international destinations, and/or the UK, our Options Review meetings guide intended parents in understanding all the options available.  Our sister organisation NGA Law also routinely supports parents having children in the full range of international surrogacy destinations, giving us extensive experience of all international surrogacy routes across our team.

 

How much does international surrogacy cost?

 

There are significant differences in the costs associated with the differing surrogacy options internationally and understanding your budget is likely to be one of the most significant parts of your decision-making. Find out more about how much surrogacy costs.

 

Ethical considerations

 

Ensuring that surrogacy is managed ethically should be at the core of every surrogacy journey.  Children born through surrogacy have a right to a positive and honest heritage, and parents should be able to share confidently that their surrogacy journey was a positive collaboration in which everyone involved was well supported, whether it takes place in the UK or overseas. At Brilliant Beginnings we understand that ethical surrogacy takes a variety of forms, and that the traditional binary classification of ‘altruistic’ and ‘commercial’ surrogacy often does not provide a meaningful understanding of the real motivations of surrogates or how ethical a surrogacy framework is. Find out more about the difference between altruistic and commercial surrogacy.

Legal considerations

 

There is no global surrogacy legislation, and while it can be attractive to enter into a surrogacy arrangement in a country which recognises you as your child’s parents immediately from birth, if you are British or live in the UK you will also need to resolve legal parenthood under UK law. There is a well-established route through the parental order, but it is important to be familiar with the process and the criteria you will need to meet.  It is also important to be clear about the immigration process for bringing your child home to the UK (or wherever you live). Find out more about UK legal issues after international surrogacy.

It is also important to get advice about the legal requirements in the destination country. In the USA for example, some states have pre-birth orders, some have post-birth orders, and some states do not allow surrogacy. It is important to make sure that you comply with all legal requirements.

 

Choosing professional partners

 

In any international surrogacy arrangement, you will need professional partners who can help you match with a suitable surrogate (and egg donor, if needed), IVF treatment, medical care during the pregnancy and delivery (and post-birth for your baby) and successful navigation of the relevant legal requirements in the destination country as well as in the UK.  Professionals in some surrogacy destinations offer a combination of these core services, while in others you will need to engage a team of professional partners who work effectively together.  You may also need other professional support as well, including insurance advice, counselling and help with arranging practicalities such as travel, accommodation and postnatal support for you as new parents.

Choosing the right team of professionals is key.  You should consider what experience they have (particularly of supporting parents from the UK), how long they have been operating and where they are based. You should feel comfortable with their processes, the way in which they communicate with you, the information they provide and their credentials.  You should also feel confident that they operate ethically, offer clarity about their services and costs, and that they give appropriate support and care to your surrogate and any donor who is helping you. In non-English speaking countries, you should be able to access someone who can speak English as a point of contact throughout your journey.

Brilliant Beginnings (and our sister organisation NGA Law) has helped intended parents navigate surrogacy overseas for many years.  Drawing on our extensive experience and contacts, and without having financial ties to any overseas organisations, we can help you select from only the best professional partners to put together the team that is right for you.

Find out more about our US Surrogacy Pathway and our Options Review service.

 

More information

Options Review consultations

What is the difference between altruistic and commercial surrogacy?

UK legal issues after international surrogacy