For those living outside of the United States who are considering international surrogacy to grow their families, the surrogacy process may seem confusing. At our Boston, San Francisco, and New York offices, we often work with these “intended parents” from all parts of the world. In this blog post, we’ll outline options for those living outside the U.S. and discuss some of the benefits of enlisting the help of a U.S. surrogacy agency.
What country is best for surrogacy? What are the options?
There are a few choices for intended parents exploring surrogacy from their homes outside the U.S. They can:
- Use a surrogacy agency in the U.S.
- Opt for a surrogacy agency outside of the U.S. or
- Embark on an independent surrogacy journey
There are pros and cons to each of the choices above. A surrogacy agency in the U.S. offers the most security and confidence for intended parents that they will have a baby and return home safely to their home country. However, U.S. surrogacy can have a higher price tag than other international surrogacy agencies.
Surrogacy agencies in a country outside of the U.S. provide lower costs and possibly a closer proximity to where the intended parents live. However, the surrogate mother screening process, medical facilities and expertise getting intended parents home is lacking compared to U.S. surrogacy agencies.
An independent surrogacy journey provides complete control over the journey for intended parents and could possibly be cheaper (no agency fee). However, without the knowledge and international surrogacy expertise, navigating a surrogacy journey without an agency can be stressful and not always cost-effective.
Let’s explore the benefits of working with a surrogacy agency and discover why intended parents should choose to work with a U.S. Surrogacy agency over an international surrogacy agency from another country.
Why work with a surrogacy agency?
One of the first decisions intended parents will make regarding surrogacy is whether or not to use a surrogacy agency for their journey. If they do not choose a surrogacy agency, they will go through what’s called an “independent journey.” An independent journey means that the intended parents will manage and coordinate all aspects of their journey, from finding a surrogate mother to enlisting an attorney for contracts.
Because a surrogacy journey can be complex, with many moving parts, it is recommended that first-time intended parents work with an agency. A surrogacy agency is a partner on the surrogacy journey, helping intended parents navigate the legal aspect of contracts, finding a surrogate mother match, and managing every step of the journey. Having an agency partner alleviates stress on the intended parents should they encounter a bump in the road and enables them to focus on the arrival of their baby. Plus, intended parents will be working with a team of professionals who know everything about surrogacy!
Why Choose a Surrogacy Agency in the United States?
U.S. surrogacy agencies offer the best protection for international intended parents. Other international surrogacy agencies may not offer the same level of service and security to intended parents that a U.S. surrogacy agency would offer.
The United States is widely considered to be the ideal country for surrogacy services. International parents prefer the United States due to its favorable legal, societal, and medical conditions, and the majority of U.S. states permit commercial surrogacy. At Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, we’ve worked with intended parents from over 73 countries over the last 25 years, including Australia, China, New Zealand, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, and more.
3 Benefits for International Parents Using a US Surrogacy Agency
There is much to consider when beginning a surrogacy journey as an international intended parent, including returning to their home country with their new baby, any language barriers with their surrogate mother, and insurance.
When international intended parents choose to begin surrogacy with a surrogacy agency in the United States, they are choosing the safest and most secure way to have a baby.
Their child is a US citizen.
Any child born in the United States is a U.S. citizen (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy). The intended parents’ baby will receive a U.S. birth certificate and is entitled to a U.S. passport for travel purposes. The parents’ surrogacy lawyers will do the legal work to establish their parentage (either via a pre-birth order, post-birth order, or possibly through a second-parent adoption). They will be the sole legal and physical parents under American law. By establishing the rights of parentage in the United States, the parents can travel home safely and securely. Some countries – such as Spain, Sweden, and Germany (amongst others) – accept the U.S. Declaration of Parentage.
Conversely, a child born with an international surrogacy agency outside of the U.S., for example, may not be considered a citizen of that country. This can be challenging because the intended parents will need to establish citizenship and/or parentage under their home country prior to leaving where the baby was born, making it difficult to get travel papers or a passport to return to their home country. The child cannot fly home without a passport.
Surrogates are fully screened and get the best medical care.
Surrogacy agencies in the United States, such as Circle Surrogacy, follow strict guidelines and screening protocols for women who are interested in becoming surrogates. Women must complete a lengthy application, undergo medical and psychological testing, and identify a primary support person for her journey. In fact, Circle only accepts 1 to 2% of the women who begin the surrogate application into our program.
Surrogate mothers who work with U.S. surrogacy agencies live in the United States, have strong support systems, and are financially stable. They have access to the most advanced medical care and the world’s top hospitals. Plus, at Circle Surrogacy, surrogates and their intended parents develop a relationship throughout the process. They meet each other and agree to be matched prior to any documents being signed. They have open lines of communication throughout the journey and can form a relationship. A surrogacy journey with Circle Surrogacy is not transactional; it is based on mutual respect and the desire to have a relationship.
Comparatively, women who live internationally and become surrogates for international surrogacy agencies may get moved away from their homes while they are pregnant, so that they could be closer to a hospital. They are separated from their families, which can be emotionally stressful. The medical care they receive, while cheaper, may not live up the standards of medical care women in the United States receive. It is not uncommon for intended parents to not have much of a relationship with the woman who is carrying their baby; communication can be difficult, and oftentimes the parents aren’t as emotionally part of the journey as they would be in the U.S.
In the U.S., when you embark on a surrogacy journey with an experienced agency, your money is safe. Circle Surrogacy is a well-established, secure company. The money you send to the agency is secure, held in an IOLTA account (Interest on Lawyer Trust Account). IOLTA accounts are kept only at regulated and approved financial institutions.
Cost Difference Between International and US Surrogacy Agencies
International intended parents may find that the costs of working with an international surrogacy agency in a country such as the Ukraine, India, or Mexico are more cost-effective than working with a surrogacy agency in the United States.
The difference in costs can be attributed to a few factors.
- Travel costs. Traveling to the United States can be pricey, and traveling internationally to another country may be cheaper for intended parents. When choosing a U.S. surrogacy agency, intended parents should plan to travel a minimum of two times: once to the clinic to create their embryos and once for the birth of their baby. That being said, many parents choose to travel a few additional times if possible, such as the embryo transfer, and the 20-week ultrasound.
- Surrogate mother quality and screening. Surrogate mothers are paid base fees and additional benefit compensation in the U.S. Plus, surrogates must undergo multiple screening steps, including psychological screening with licensed health care professionals.
- Quality of medical care. The United States is home to the world’s top hospitals and medical facilities – including best-in-class neonatal services – many of which are experienced with surrogate births.
How much does surrogacy cost in the US?
Surrogacy costs with a U.S. Surrogacy agency can range from $80,000-$150,000+. The actual costs depend on the specific journey and needs of the intended parents.
Surrogacy costs can be compartmentalized into four categories:
- Professional Fees
- Gestational Carrier (i.e., surrogate) and Egg Donor Fees
- Medical & Insurance Expenses
- IVF Expenses (paid to the IVF clinic)
Most surrogacy agencies do not offer fixed costs for any of these cost categories, which can result in surprise fees and financial uncertainty throughout the surrogacy journey. However, Circle Surrogacy fixes the costs for Professional Fees, Gestational Carrier and Egg Donor Fees, and Medical & Insurance Expenses.
Circle Surrogacy is the only agency that offers you two truly fixed price options, tailored to your specific circumstances. And Circle Surrogacy has one cost for surrogacy whether you live in the U.S. or abroad.
Surrogacy only: $125,500
Surrogacy plus egg donation: $149,500
(both prices exclude IVF)
Our Fixed Cost Program provides intended parents the security of paying one fixed price a single transfer journey, reducing unexpected expenses and uncertainty of variable costs.
Surrogacy only: $135,500
Surrogacy plus egg donation: $159,500
(both prices exclude IVF)
Our Journey Protection Guarantee offers Intended Parents unlimited transfers for a fixed price, plus the Circle Promise: we’ll refund 100% of our agency fee plus unused third party funds if you do not bring home a baby.
What is an agency fee? What does it cover?
If you work with a surrogacy agency, you will have to pay a surrogacy agency fee. The agency fee covers many aspects of your surrogacy journey, including:
- Management of your entire journey, from start to finish
- Screening & matching with your carrier and egg donor
- Journey support
- Trust account management
- Legal work
Managing a surrogacy journey and all the moving parts can be very time consuming, which is why many intended parents choose to work with – and pay – a surrogacy agency to handle all of the details.
What is the best surrogacy agency choice for international intended parents?
Surrogacy agencies in the United States provide more security for international intended parents. And while it may cost a little more, bringing a baby into the world and home safely is priceless.
At Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, we pride ourselves on 25 years of experience making parenthood possible for intended parents all around the world. Our legal team is knowledgeable in international surrogacy law and in helping international intended parents obtain documents necessary to return home quickly and safely with their babies. Our goal is happy, healthy and successful families. In fact, we have the highest success rate of 99.3% for intended parents bringing home a baby.
What are the next steps if you’re interested in international surrogacy?
If you’re interested in learning more about surrogacy in the United States, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected] or fill out this short form and our International Parent Intake Associate (who lives internationally and is a dad through surrogacy) will be in touch shortly!