What are my surrogacy options abroad?

Finding a surrogates overseas is a big decision and one that takes careful thought. 

Ideally you would hope that you could find someone in the UK, but if you are thinking about going abroad, then there are some key things to think about before making a start.

Is surrogacy legal in the country I am considering?

Surrogacy is illegal in many destinations, or there are legal restrictions placed on who is able to pursue surrogacy in that country. For example, some countries allow surrogacy for married heterosexual couples, but not to unmarried heterosexual couples, or gay couples (married or otherwise) Establishing whether you are able to pursue surrogacy at all is going to be the first step. If you are not sure, a surrogacy lawyer in the destination will be able to advise you. If it is permissible, then it will be important to navigate through the legal process in both the UK and your chosen destination.

Will I have to spend time abroad?

Yes. At the very least, you would need to travel to provide either your sperm or eggs (unless you are moving existing embryos), and you will need to be there for the birth of your child. You may also want to spend time getting to know your surrogate and her family, become familiar with the area where she lives and where she is going to give birth. It will be sensible to explore where you will be staying and local amenities so that after your baby is born you know where to get coffee and nappies and anything else you might need. How much time you spend post birth depends on the time it will take for you get a passport for your baby to travel back to the UK and if your baby is fit and able to travel. This varies significantly depending on the rules governed by each country.

How can I be sure that the organisation helping me is legitimate?

This can be tricky, as even questionable organisations can appear well managed and ethical from the outset. Again, surrogacy lawyers in the destination country can be a really helpful resource as they will be familiar with which organisations should be avoided and those that can be trusted.  One of the services that BB offers is a service to help put together those reputable and experienced organisations for those intended parents going to the US and Canada.

How can I be sure that my surrogate is ok?

This is one of the most important factors to consider when exploring your options. If you aren’t sure how well prepared surrogates are, or the kind of support they will have, make sure you ask some of the following questions:

  • Does the organisation have qualifying criteria and a screening process for their surrogates?
  • How does the organisation ensure that women are not becoming surrogates under duress?
  • How does the organisation ensure that their surrogates are aware of the risks to them and their family?
  • Do their surrogates have a support network both at home and through the organisation?
  • Do their surrogates have mandatory physical and mental health checks prior to being introduced to IPs?
  • Are their surrogates offered counselling throughout their journey?
  • Where will treatment take place and where will she give birth?
  • Where will the surrogate live during their journey?
  • What aftercare can she expect from the organisation? 

A well-established organisation should be able to answer these questions easily, and provide evidence to reassure you. Choosing a destination where surrogacy is legal and the organisations that will be involved in your journey have good reputations that rest on their ethical conduct, will also help to reassure you.

Will I meet my surrogate?

There are lots of destinations that actively encourage you to meet and spend time with your surrogate and her family in order to a relationship that often last well beyond their surrogacy journey. As with any long distance friendship, most of your interactions will happen over Skype or Facetime, phone calls, emails and messages and all parties will have to work hard to make sure that everyone’s needs are being accommodated. If this is important to you, and you sense that this is not encouraged by an organisation, this would be an indicator that the organisation is not is not the right fit for you.

How will I get my baby home?

You will need to know whether your child will be entitled to a passport from the country they are born in, whether you will need to apply for a UK passport and how long either is likely to take to arrive, so that you can prepare for a stay in the country. You will also need to understand if you are likely to encounter any immigration issues on your return home. Taking legal advice in the UK before moving forward will help you to understand the challenges you may have to overcome before you can travel home with your baby. Legal advice will also help you to understand how to secure your parentage under UK law.

How long will it take and how much will it cost?

It’s very difficult to give an accurate indication of timeframes and cost, as there are a number of variables that will impact this. The variables include, but are not limited to, things such as the destination you choose, the costs associated with the organisations assisting you, how long it takes to be introduced to a surrogate, a surrogate’s circumstances, the number of embryo transfers that are required to achieve a pregnancy and of course, how well the pregnancy progresses.

An experienced surrogacy organisation should be able to give you an indication of the costs you can expect, and timescales at the outset, and should be able to keep you informed of significant changes as you progress through your journey which might impact the overall cost and timeframes.

Where can I get further information?

Brilliant Beginnings can give you safe and objective advice through an Options Review meeting that is designed to guide you through the various ways of pursuing a surrogacy journey, both here in the UK, and specific regulated and unregulated destinations abroad. Our advice is impartial, and we can also help you understand our services as well as those of other professional organisations involved in surrogacy.

Our sister organisation NGA Law also offers legal help with the UK legal side of international surrogacy, with leading experience in navigating international surrogacy, resolving parenthood and bringing babies home from overseas.

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