Surrogacy in the USA: an overview
Why do UK parents choose the US for surrogacy?
The limitations of the UK’s surrogacy framework mean that many British and UK-resident intended parents who need the help of a surrogate instead look overseas, with the USA being the most popular international surrogacy option. Although costly, surrogacy in the USA offers legal security and the support of well-established professional services, creating a smooth process with clear timescales. It is also ethical, offering protection to surrogates as well as intended parents.
Who can become a parent through US surrogacy?
US surrogacy is open to a broad range of family types (including same-sex parents, single parents, transgender parents and non-biological parents), although intended parents need to complete background checks and to be prepared for the journey ahead.
How long does US surrogacy take?
An 18-36 month timescale for US surrogacy is realistic for most intended parents – from starting the process to bringing a baby home – although every surrogacy journey is unique.
To understand the likely timescale, intended parents need to know the steps involved and the possible variables in their particular situation.
How much does surrogacy in the US cost?
A healthy current budget for UK parents conceiving through surrogacy in the USA is £250,000 to £320,000 (although budgeting should always be done carefully for the particular situation). While surrogacy in the US is safe, legally-recognised and ethical, this makes it the most expensive surrogacy option internationally.
Accurate costing for US surrogacy can be complex, relying on a clear understanding of all the costs involved (as they apply to UK parents) and the potential variables. Agency fees, surrogate (and donor) expenses and compensation, fertility treatment costs, US health insurance, US legal fees, UK legal fees, personal travel and accommodation and other costs all need to be accounted for.
What professionals are involved in a US surrogacy journey?
US surrogacy is professionally managed, which means that intended parents and surrogates are supported by a team of professionals with specialist expertise. That includes agencies (which screen, match and support), fertility clinics, specialist lawyers (in both the US and the intended parents’ home country), insurance specialists (to help navigate the complex US healthcare system), escrow agents (to protect funds for the surrogate) and more.
One of the big challenges of navigating US surrogacy is choosing the right professionals. There are thousands of potential providers offering a range of services with varying costs, style, approach and experience.
The legal framework for US surrogacy
In most US states the law recognises gestational surrogacy arrangements. That means intended parents and surrogates can enter into a surrogacy agreement which makes the intended parents their child’s legal parents.
The specifics of the legal process to confirm that the agreement is valid vary depending on the state in which the child is born, but may include court applications made during the pregnancy or after the birth.
Intended parents from other countries (including the UK) will not necessarily be recognised as their child’s legal parents at home, so it is also important to get local legal advice as well. Most UK parents apply for a parental order after their child is born in order to resolve their parenthood and their child’s British nationality.
Fertility treatment for a US surrogacy journey
Fertility clinics in the US typically offer a high standard of clinical care. US clinicans meet intended parents to discuss treatment plans on an individual basis, considering fertility history, the best route to create embryos or ship existing embryos to the US, genetic testing and sex selection.
Egg donation and US surrogacy
Most parents conceiving through US surrogacy conceive with the help of an egg donor. US surrogacy arrangements are gestational (where the surrogate is not a genetically the parent of the child she carries), which means that if the intended parents are not able to provide an egg they will need the help of a separate egg donor. This might be the case because the intended parents are male (single dads or same-sex parents) or because of fertility or medical issues.
There are a number of ways to find an egg donor in the US, and typically a lot of choice. It is important for intended parents to consider the long term issues including planning for the future for their child in respect of what information will be available.
Why do women in the US become surrogates?
Surrogates in the US are compensated, the typical range being $30,000 to $90,000+ (plus out of pocket expenses). However, the screening and preparation process undertaken by reputable surrogacy agencies and mental health professionals is designed to ensure that money is not the only driver and that the women who act as surrogates are committed to the process and motivated by a desire to help others. This is key to making sure everyone is safe, protected and well matched.
Pregnancy, birth and coming home
It is common for surrogates and intended parents to develop a close relationship during the pregnancy, and for many this endures long afterwards.
During the pregnancy the US surrogacy agency will also keep the intended parents updated about key antenatal appointments and any issues that arise, and will liaise with the hospital to make sure things are set up for the birth.
Intended parents are normally present when their child is born, and US hospitals are well set up to support everyone.
UK parents normally need to stay a few weeks after the birth to get their child’s birth certificate and passport.
The logistics of travel also need to be managed. Immigration needs careful planning depending on the parents’ home destination.
How we can help you with surrogacy in the US
Brilliant Beginnings’ US Surrogacy Pathway provides trusted UK professional support with every step of the US surrogacy progress, working together with the UK’s leading surrogacy lawyers NGA Law, and offering a full service of end-to-end practical and legal support.
We also offer Surrogacy Consultations if you want to access our experience and expertise via a personalised advice meeting.
NGA Law also offer a full range of UK legal services to support those going to the US for surrogacy independently of Brilliant Beginnings.