Is It Better to Use a Domestic or International Surrogate?

Choosing a surrogate can feel like a huge undertaking. You want to find someone healthy. You want to find someone you can trust. Perhaps more than anything else, you’ll want to mitigate as much risk as possible when selecting another person to carry your child.

There are several options available to intended parents hoping to select a surrogate, some inherently riskier than others. You may choose to work with an agency or to try and find a surrogate independently. You might choose to work with a gestational carrier and egg donor rather than a traditional surrogate.

What To Consider When Choosing a Domestic or International Surrogate

Another option intended parents might find themselves exploring is the use of an international surrogate. While international surrogacy has previously been a viable option to many intended parents, in recent years there has been an increased focus on its challenges and risks. When weighing the benefits of choosing a domestic surrogate instead of an international one, here are a few important things to consider.

Financial Concerns

One of biggest draws to international surrogacy is the hope for a lower-cost path to parenthood. Unfortunately, parents oftentimes find themselves facing the opposite situation.

While costs such as your surrogate’s compensation or agency overhead fees may be lower upfront, an international surrogacy might end up costing more in the long run.

It is not unusual for extra fees to add up throughout international surrogacy journeys. Costs for travel, immigration processes, legal representation, and follow-up medical care are just a few you may end up shouldering as an international intended parent.  

In contrast, quality surrogacy agencies in the US are much more upfront about fees and what to expect throughout your surrogacy journey.

Legal Concerns

Parents considering using a surrogate abroad should also seriously weigh the potential legal repercussions. After a surge in international surrogacy in previous years, many countries have either changed their regulations or outlawed the practice altogether. Parents looking for an international surrogate are not privy to the same rights and protections that they would be in the US, and other countries could change their surrogacy related laws any moment.  

In reviewing laws and regulations, be sure you have a clear understanding of what your path to establishing parenthood would look like abroad. Many countries still require the gestational surrogate’s name on the baby’s birth certificate which will affect parents’ ability to obtain a pre-birth order or could even result in needing to “adopt” their child.  Additionally, pursuing surrogacy in countries where same-sex marriage is not recognized can be particularly dangerous for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

Ethical Concerns

Lastly, international surrogacy presents an ethical dilemma to be carefully considered by prospective parents. In the past ten years, a spotlight has been shone on the idea of “womb renting” or pursuing surrogates with few other options.

In the United States, surrogates are carefully vetted and screened extensively. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has drawn strict boundaries and guidelines for not only who can be approved to be a surrogate, but also how the process should ideally take place to protect both the carrier and her intended parents.

International surrogacy has been highly criticized because of both the lack of regulation and the ethics involved. Would you want someone to carry your baby if they felt they had no other choice? A surrogate abroad may not have the same rights as a domestic surrogate. They may not be compensated fairly or even at all.

Screening for US surrogates ensures that potential carriers are not solely financially motivated. They are also compensated fairly, except in special circumstances where the surrogate has chosen an altruistic route. The protections your domestic surrogate carries through compensation and legal rights will pay dividends into the overall safety of your child’s pregnancy and birth.

Learn More About Domestic Surrogacy with ELEVATE

Parents considering international surrogacy should carefully weigh the risks versus reward. At ELEVATE, we want to see your journey to parenthood through to fruition in the safest way possible. Reach out to learn more about our agency and extensively screened domestic surrogates today.


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