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We’ve decided it’s time to be parents – what’s the best country for surrogacy processes?

What a fun and exciting time! I remember how excited I was when I started our journey. You’ve decided that this is the right step, but it’s only the first of many more steps and decisions you’ll need to make.

Decision making changes from one person to another, and each person has to choose what’s the right way for them to start a family: coparenting, surrogacy, adoption or fostering. Since I am mainly discussing surrogacy here, I’ll focus on it, but remember that there is no one-size-fits-all option, and you can read more about the differences between coparenting and surrogacy here

With surrogacy, one of the first steps is to understand which of the existing options suits you best. Some options are safer than others, some are based on legal expert opinions versus those that are anchored in proper law. Some are very expensive, and some are less so.

There are essentially two main options: United States and Canada are a stable option from a legal aspect, compared to the rest of the world. In other countries the starting costs are slightly lower, but they entail legal risks, instability, and even a lower level of control over exploitation in addition to the lower medical standards.

To date, in the temporary destinations (East Asia, South America, poor European countries, etc.) all the options were short-lived and only lasted a few months or years, and in general only the very first ones succeeded. The rest didn’t even manage to get to the pregnancy stage, and just spent a lot of money and energy until the destination closed (for example: India > Thailand > Nepal > Mexico > Albania > Colombia > Cyprus > South Africa).

If you’re looking into a surrogacy option outside of the United States, I strongly recommend understanding what problems you may encounter there: Is the surrogate’s standard of living low? Are surrogates moved from one state/country to another? Does the surrogate live in her own home? Are you a part of the journey and will you be able to be in touch with her? What’s the medical standard in her country of residence? Have there been any births, and can you speak to parents who went through the process successfully? Is the surrogate immediately disconnected from the children legally and what are the implications if she’s not? And a lot of additional legal considerations.

When I embarked on the process in 2013, we considered all the options available at the time. India had just shut down its surrogacy program and many parents turned to the Thai option. That option was less suitable for us (even though Thailand was relatively “Western” from a medical standpoint). We were not happy with the surrogate’s status in the process and how her wellbeing is kept, the problematic disconnection, and the entire process was too new and we were concerned it would shut down (and indeed less than a year later it did).

My partner and I decided to go with the United States surrogacy option, which was a bit more expensive but provided us with security, or like my father says “It’s problematic to spend so much time and energy on something that’s not sure or safe. You’re not rich enough for cheap options”. Now we’re very happy we did it, aside from the actual process - also for the future. We have additional embryos stored in the United States and we can expand the family when we want our twins to have another brother or sister. We’re still in touch with the surrogate. We didn’t waste money on pregnancy attempts that didn’t succeed because of very low success rates at all the other destinations, and it’s such an incredible experience when you are a part of the process and the choices in it, and in direct contact with all of the service providers - and in English. You don’t need to translate every screen and you don’t need to wait for someone to translate the surrogate’s message for us.

The bottom line is that there are pros and cons to every choice, and each of us has different preferences and priorities. As long as you are aware of the risks, do the proper research and don’t rely only on salespeople - there is no right or wrong. The important thing is to be fully aware of and at peace with the decisions you make.

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