Surrogacy for International Parents Seeking Surrogacy in the United States
The United States, especially certain states located within the US, is considered a top destination for surrogacy because of surrogacy-friendly regulations and ethical safeguards for all parties. In the United States, surrogacy is practiced with enthusiastic consent from surrogates who are free to determine their own terms and compensation levels. In some countries, surrogates are ill-treated and surrogacy arrangements are exploitative. That is not the case in the United States, however, where legal and industry professionals are diligent about protecting the rights of all participants.
Ethical considerations are among the top reasons international Intended Parents look to the United States over other destinations, but it’s not the only consideration.
Here’s some of the reasons why international Intended Parents look to the US when deciding to pursue a surrogate arrangement:
Favorable Legal Environment
The United States recognizes the legitimacy of commercial surrogacy which means surrogates can be compensated in most American states. In some countries like Australia, Canada, Denmark, and New Zealand, surrogacy is permitted, however, a surrogate cannot receive money in acknowledgement to her time, discomfort, and risk to her health that any pregnancy entails. Other countries allow foreigners to pursue surrogacy, however, none offer the same level of protections the United States does. In Mexico, for example, surrogacy contracts between foreign nationals and surrogates are not honored by Mexican courts. There’s also the issue of birth certificate and passport delays with Intended Parents sometimes stuck in countries like Mexico for months following the birth of their child(ren).
In addition to permitting surrogacy, most US states offer a clear legal path to establishing parentage. In most cases, the Intended Parent(s) are named on the child’s birth certificate either at birth or through an amendment process. For information on surrogacy regulations across the United States, visit our state-by-state comparison.
Stable Government and Safety Concerns
Ukraine used to be a top destination for surrogacy, however, the recent conflict with Russia has eliminated most interest from foreigners who fear for the safety of surrogates and their own child(ren). Nearby Georgia and its proximity to Russia has similar concerns.
The United States has a robust national infrastructure making travel to/from the United States and throughout the country easy and efficient. Residents of the United States also enjoy clean drinking water and access to quality medical care, including top-rated hospitals.
United States Citizenship
A person born in United States is considered an American citizen regardless of the nationality of his/her parents thanks to the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. This concept, called jus soli (“right of soil”), grants birthright citizenship to all children, baring very few exceptions, born on US soil and assumes their natural connection to the United States.
Under birthright citizenship, children born in the United States are immediately eligible for an American passport.
Advanced Assisted Reproduction Technology and Care
The United States is a global leader in Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART). Many clinics have direct experience with surrogacy which ensures a high level of understanding and care during the process. Embryologists and fertility specialists in the United States are at the forefront of advances in embryo testing, screening, and optimizing success rates of a surrogacy pregnancy.
English is the most spoken language in the world. It is the most widely spoken language either as a native language or as a learned second language. International Intended Parents usually can converse in at least basic English making a direct connection and relationship between surrogate and Intended Parent possible.
Availability of Surrogates
The United States is a large country. There are over 330 million people who call the US home. Because of the large population, there are simply more people that are interested in becoming surrogates. Adding to that, commercial surrogacy is legal in most US states, which means there are more willing participants when surrogates are allowed to be compensated for their time, risk to their health, and inconvenience.
With more choices, International Intended Parents can find matches from a pool of candidates that meet their specific criteria.
Because surrogates are represented by their own assisted reproduction-specializing attorneys (paid for by Intended Parents) and they are free to determine their own terms and compensation levels in places where commercial surrogacy is permitted, surrogates in the United States are not subject to levels of exploitation as they are in some places around the world.
In the United States, poor women that are not financially stable or self-sufficient are ineligible to become surrogates. American surrogates must have secure long-term housing of their own and must not be receiving any type of government welfare. Surrogates in the United States are well informed about the process, must consent to all aspects of surrogacy, and are not desperate for money.
By contrast, before international surrogacy was banned in places like India, vulnerable poor women, often from rural areas, were exploited and received only a few thousand dollars for their surrogacy journeys. Surrogacy agencies would house surrogates in prison-like hostel structures and the surrogates were not given information about the procedure, their rights, the expected medical protocols, or educated on the potential risks to their health.
Today, in places like Mexico, surrogacy is poorly regulated which can lead to scams, run by unscrupulous agencies, and contains a lack of transparency about the progression of the pregnancy or the health of the surrogate.
Although surrogacy in the United States costs more than it does in other countries, participating in ethical surrogacy is a top reason International Intended Parents choose the United States. Intended Parents should always consult with local legal experts in their home country to discuss any legal implications or immigration challenges related to bringing their children born via surrogacy back to their own country. This is in addition to following the guidance of an American attorney specializing in surrogacy law. Though rare, in some states, international intended parents may face restrictions American parents do not. Always lean on the guidance of an attorney licensed in the state your chosen surrogate is a resident of.
Do International Parents Need a Surrogacy Agency?
Absolutely not. As long as you have a team of qualified medical and legal professionals, you can do a surrogacy arrangement in the United States without paying costly agency fees. A qualified attorney is there to guide you in making sure you follow all local laws in surrogacy and in establishing your parentage before or following the birth of your child(ren). A Reproductive Endocrinologist will make sure a potential surrogate is medically fit to carry a surrogacy pregnancy.
Whether or not you are using an agency, due diligence is your responsibility. This includes criminal and general background checks using third-party companies like LexisNexis or CriminalWatchDog that specialize in background screenings and identity verification. You should also ask for references if applicable – experienced surrogates should encourage you to talk to their former Intended Parents. Ask questions about lifestyle and pregnancy expectations. Dig into their occupation (e.g. do they work with dangerous chemicals or machinery?) and relationship with drugs and alcohol.
Agencies are not always thorough as you can be with your direct involvement. Remember, you are ultimately responsible (with the help of medical and legal professionals) for making sure a potential surrogate is the right fit for you and your family.