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Surrogacy law by country. How to choose a country for your surrogacy program overseas?

Many infertile couples all around the World are suffering from the impossibility to use surrogacy services and/or egg donation in their own country because of moral or legal ban of this kind of treatment. After a lot of high-profile cases, such huge surrogacy destinations as India and Thailand were closed for foreigners that left a lot of infertile couples confused about their possible surrogacy destination. Today we are going to talk about the most common surrogacy destinations overseas, so you can find the best option for your country specifically.

Surrogacy in United States of America

United States is one of the biggest countries with the most controversial legal practice about surrogacy nowadays, as it varies from state to state from the total ban to very loyal attitude to this issue. Some states are surrogacy friendly, such as Arkansas, California, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada or New Hampshire. In some states there is no legislation about this, for example, law of Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Massachusetts is silent about surrogacy. Other states have banned this practice totally, such as Louisiana, Michigan or New York.

So, the best option is to perform surrogacy program in the State, where it is legal, and surrogacy contracts are enforceable by law and supported by courts. The other thing is that together with great opportunities and guarantees Intended Parents should be ready to face huge expenditures in case they choose United States option for surrogacy.

First of all, surrogacy agencies in USA are extremely expensive. The same is with attorneys, medical services and delivery process, let alone genetic tests, travel expenses and medical insurance. In total price of surrogacy program in USA will vary from approximately 95,000 to 200,000 USD Dollars that is at least three times more expensive than price for the same programs in Ukraine or Georgia. That’s why some couples who live in USA apply for surrogacy abroad for themselves, especially if they know that according to their health conditions they will most probably need several IVF cycles.

Second thing you need to be aware of, is the birth order. The birth order is a specific document, issued by court, which assigns parentage to a child. There are pre-birth and post-birth orders, depends on the state. The pre-birth order is done before the baby is born, although it is not effective until the birth occurs. However, it gives to the Intended Parents peace in mind, as after obtaining it, the maternity house will indicate the names of the Intended Parents in the original birth certificate and the child will be given directly to the parents from the hospital. Without it, the name of the surrogate mother will appear in medical documentation and further legal steps will be needed to finish the process. Consequently, the post-birth order can be issued only after the baby is born and the hearing in the court is finished. Sometimes, for such cases parents should attend the trial personally.

In most cases, US allow surrogacy for heterosexual married couples only, therefore and in case that you are a member of LGTB community, we strongly recommend you to seek for highly-qualified legal advice when searching for surrogacy in United States.

The good news, is that every baby (including babies born via ART and surrogacy) born on the territory of US is getting US citizenship automatically. So, this can be a very good option for countries where there are difficulties with getting baby’s passport in the Consulate of their country of origin, such as Spain, France or Germany (we remind you that without citizenship and passport of the baby will not be able to come back home after the surrogacy process).

Surrogacy in Russia

Another big destination for surrogacy is Russia.

In Russia surrogacy is allowed by law, where it is specified, that only married heterosexual couples or single women, who are not able to carry a baby, can sign a surrogacy contract. At the same time, there are some cases, when surrogacy was performed there not only for single woman, but for single men. We want to warn you, that in such a way, even if it is possible, it can cause some delays, additional expenditures and legal difficulties at the end of  the surrogacy journey, as to get the baby’s birth certificate in Russia is possible only for married couples. Single parents should undergo the hearing in the court to get the birth certificate of their babies. From the April 2018 all parents who have their babies through surrogacy in Russia cannot take the baby out of the maternity house until they get baby’s birth certificate in the civil registrar office. On the other hand, in case of a married couple it is quite quick process.

Additionally, a surrogate mother in Russia has the right “to change her mind” and to keep the baby for herself after delivery. In practice, however, it can occur very rarely, as in this case the surrogate mother will need to give all the expenditures for her pregnancy care, delivery and monthly payments to the Intended Parents back. 

A general advise: we strongly recommend all our clients to have at least 50% (one parent) genetic link to their surrogacy baby, as it makes the process of obtaining the baby’s nationality and passport in the Embassy of their country of origin possible.

In general, Russia is a good option for married heterosexual couples, who are seeking for Slavic egg donors and surrogates. In general the main legal conditions are very similar to Ukraine, including the difficulty in getting the Russian citizenship for a baby in case of complications in getting the citizenship of your own country (in your Embassy). The price is also approximately the same – from 35,000 to 60,000 USD Dollars.

Surrogacy in Ukraine

Surrogacy in Ukraine is totally legal for heterosexual married couples only. The rights of Intended Parents are protected here, as they will be written as legal parents in the birth certificate, issued by Civil registrar office and surrogate Mother has no right to keep the baby, even if she wishes so (on the contrary to Russia, where she has this right). All other questions that are not specified in the Law are usually specified in the Contract between the Surrogate Mother and the Intended Parents. You can be sure, that lawyers who work in this sphere in Ukraine are highly-qualified and know which issues should be specified in the Contract to protect the rights of all sides.

 As an agency which have a long experience working in the surrogacy field in Ukraine, we can give you the real picture about the process there. Ukraine nowadays is the most attractive destination for foreign couples. Affordable prices for surrogacy programs, big amount of surrogates and huge variety of beautiful fertile egg donors makes this country extremely popular among infertile couples all over the World. In Ukraine you can find very highly-equipped private IVF clinics and very good reproductive specialists, as this field has been developed in Ukraine for very long time.

The price of surrogacy programs varies here from 35,000 to 60,000 USD Dollars, which is more or less the same as in Georgia or Russia and three times less than in USA. On the less bright side we strongly recommend infertile couples from such countries as Spain, France or Germany to think twice about this destination, because the process in the Consulate can be extremely long here in case that any difficulty occurs. For example, in case that you country of origin rejects giving the passport to your baby, you will need to spend in Ukraine approximately 3 months before the Ukrainian government will issue Ukrainian citizenship to your baby and the travel passport. Such procedure does not exist in Ukrainian law and is performed with the assistance of the professional lawyers in exceptional cases.

Update: Unfortunately, we have heard recent news about horrible mistakes of some Ukrainian clinics and agencies, which leads to the impossibility to go out of the country with the baby, specifically there are many reports of lack of genetic link between babies and their parents because of mistakes, and Intended Parents that have been prosecuted for child traffic or who suffered the shock of being taken the babies away. On the web-sites of Consulates there are warnings about Ukraine, as some countries believe that if you are going to this surrogacy destination, you need to be aware about the possible risks that it involves. Moreover, according to our own experience, Ukraine has suffered a sharp deterioration of the sanitary and epidemiological conditions during the last 2 years, as reflected in official statistics of high incidence of such dangerous diseases as Measles, Tuberculosis and HIV infections because of poor vaccination, extreme poverty and widespread drug addiction.

Finally there are current considerations in the Ukrainian Parliament to prohibit surrogacy for foreign couples in the near future. We believe that if the situation in Ukraine does not improve, it can repeat the destiny of India – another very popular surrogacy destination which is now closed for foreign couples for a number of reasons.

Surrogacy in Georgia

Georgia is a relatively new and not so popular destination for surrogacy. European and American clients are typically not very familiar with this country andd know very little about specialists, laboratory equipment and law regulation about surrogacy process in Georgia. We can assure you, that with more or less the same price than in Ukraine (the prices here varies from 35,000 USD to 55,000 USD) in Georgia you can get the same or ever better quality of services.

First of all, during last few years IVF and surrogacy in Georgia has developed enormously and new opportunities for international couples have arisen. Lastly, the country has seen the opening of several new IVF clinics equipped with the most advanced technology, which gives more possibilities for treatment not only for local or middle-east patients, but for patients all around the World.

Comparable with Ukraine or Russia, here you can request infertility treatment and surrogacy, even if you are not married. According to Georgian legislation, it is possible for heterosexual couples, although still not possible for single parents. Egg-donors here are not anonymous, so you can personally meet them and even sign a contract in Notary together with your surrogate mother.

Neither surrogates nor egg-donors have parental rights of babies born through surrogacy in Georgia. Intended Parents are written as legal parents in the birth certificate of a baby.

Another extremely important advantage here is that in case that your country of origin rejects giving the citizenship to your baby you can obtain Georgian citizenship and travel passport in less than a month. The procedure for such cases is strictly regulated and simplified and takes not more than 3 weeks and a 100 Euros legal fee. This is much quicker and cheaper than in Ukraine or Russia, where such procedure for babies born via surrogacy is not established and decisions are taken by the government exceptionally.

Many couples hesitate when deciding if to come to this country, just because it doesn’t have so many Embassies of foreign countries inside it. It is true that many Embassies and Consulates, which are responsible for Georgian territory are situated either in Turkey or in Armenia but still the country counts with Embassies of such important countries as Germany, China, US, France and United Kingdom. In any case, we strongly recommend this surrogacy destination for all couples, without exceptions. According to our experience, it takes much less time to come to the Embassy in Turkey and back, that to wait for decision of Ukrainian or Russian authorities regarding the issuance of nationality for the newborn surrogacy baby.

Surrogacy in Belarus

Surrogacy in Belarus is strictly regulated. Even though this destination for IVF tourism is not popular yet, we believe that in the future the situation will change and this country will become more open for the international tourists. According to the Belarusian law, surrogacy is possible here for married heterosexual couples and single women, but on practice most clinics work with the married couples only. Eggs from a donor undergo here a 6-month long quarantine, to avoid any possibility to infect the future child, as the incubation period of some diseases is exactly 6 months. So, you can be sure that your donor is double-checked.

Intended Parents will be written as legal parents in both medical and civil certificate of birth without any mentioning about the surrogacy program, because the medical confidentiality is highly respected in Belarus. The level of the medical treatments here is very high, as the qualification of Belarusian medical staff is extremely high, they are very good professionals, who will treat you in the best way. Besides, the cost of prematurity care is nearly zero.

We think that the price/quality ratio in the biggest in Europe here, as the average cost of surrogacy program in Belarus varies from 35,000 to 45,000 USD.

Surrogacy in Canada

Surrogacy in Canada is possible on altruistic basis only, since it is possible to pay for the medical treatment of the surrogate mother and reasonable expenses only. So, if you are going to perform your surrogacy program here, be ready to wait for a long process and many requirements. Another risk is that Canada has no pre-birth orders that can guarantee your rights after the baby’s birth, so be ready, that the surrogate mother in Canada has the right to keep the baby, as in Russia.

The good part of surrogacy in Canada is that you will probably not pay anything for the agencies, as you can manage the process by yourself, what reduces the price of surrogacy program enormously comparable with USA (the total cost of surrogacy program in Canada is around 70,000 USD). In the same way as in US, the baby born through surrogacy in Canada has the right to get Canadian citizenship and passport, what is a big advantage in some cases.

Surrogacy in Greece

The situation with surrogacy in Greece is more or less the same as in Canada. It is allowed, but restricted. Greece is a very attractive destination for EU citizens, as it gives them ability to travel home with their baby immediately after the baby’s birth. Nowadays, surrogacy is allowed in Greece for heterosexual couples (either married or unmarried) and single women on altruistic basis only with or without egg-donor. The main difference from Canada is that here the Intended Parents need to undergo the trial even before the surrogacy contract is signed. In Greece court gives to the Intended Parents some kind of permission for the surrogacy program according to their age, marital status and medical reasons.

Another thing, is that in Greece (after the court decision) Intended Parents automatically become legal parents from the moment of conception, so the surrogate mother will not appear in any medical documentation. This fact can be very helpful for some Embassies during the process of obtaining the baby’s citizenship and passport. Take into the consideration, that the surrogacy baby is not entitled for the Greek citizenship and passport.

Surrogacy in Cyprus

Surrogacy in Cyprus is not regulated by law, what creates some kind of legal vacuum that is widely used nowadays by some agencies and legal companies working in this field. We strongly recommend you to be very careful with the provisions of the surrogacy contract if you are going to perform your surrogacy program in Cyprus, as this is the only one document that will regulate your relationships with the surrogate mother. In any case, it is not possible to give any assurance that this contract will be enforceable by a Cypriot Court. Regardless of the provisions of the surrogacy contract, the surrogate mother will be considered as a legal mother of a baby, born out of wedlock. The genetic connection to the Intended Father can be established via DNA test or medical documentation from the IVF clinic. So the baby can be registered on the name of surrogate mother and the genetic father by his voluntary acknowledgement or by Court.

The next step for the Intended Parents is to adopt the child via the hearing in the Court.

The cost of the surrogacy program in Cyprus will be around 60,000 USD and is mainly used by gay couples, the surrogate mothers are mainly from Ukraine as Cyprus is a very small country with small population.

Surrogacy in India, Thailand and Mexico

Surrogacy in India, Thailand and Mexico is not legal for international couples any more.

Conclusion

We didn’t talk in our article about such surrogacy destinations as Cambodia and Kenya, as we believe that the high risks and high rates of the baby’s mortality will keep you away of these destinations.

To know more about childhood and protection of children in the following countries we recommend you to read the “End of childhood report 2018” from “Save the Children” organization with the latest rates of all countries over the World.

We wish you good luck in your surrogacy journey in the destination of your choice. We, at Pons Medical believe that anyone who is opened to new horizons, the impossible will be become possible. We wish you happiness for you and your family!

Don’t hesitate to contact us if any questions appear.

Author: Sukhanova Anna, legal adviser of Pons Medical Group

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