Am I Ready to Go Through Surrogacy? Checklist

So, you are considering surrogacy to build your family. It’s a big decision and you might be wondering if you are ready to go through the surrogacy process. You might be feeling that surrogacy might be too risky for you or that it could be a big drain on your finance. These are legitimate concerns, and one has to think about a lot of factors before going through with surrogacy process, which is often long and costly. I’ve listed several questions you have to ask yourself before deciding to sign up with an agency or a clinic and starting the process.

Checklist 1: How much do I want a baby? Do I have the right motivation? Do I have the resource to give what the baby needs after he/she is born?

I think this is perhaps the most important question to ask yourself before committing a significant amount of time and resource into the surrogacy process. As a single man, I’ve thought and re-thought about what my motivations are, whether I have the time and financial resources to take care of a baby, and whether I am prepared to be a single father. I’ve thought about whether my child would face discrimination when he/she is older being a child born out of surrogacy. I’ve wrestled with these questions for almost 5 years before coming to a conclusion that I cannot imagine growing old without my own biological child.

It might sound obvious, but a child is not an accessory. Successful surrogacy is just a beginning of a lifelong journey as a parent. As such, you have to make a commitment to become a parent that is caring and attentive for at least 18 years after the child is born, possibly more. I’ve heard horror stories that an intended parent abandoned a newborn in Mexico just because the child didn’t turn out to have the gender the intended parent wanted it to be.

Before you start the surrogacy process, ask yourself:

  • Am I choosing to become a parent out of my own free will, or am I pressured by my family or friends to have a child?
  • Do I want a biological child or is adoption an option?
  • Am I pursuing a vanity surrogacy – that is, do I want a child only because it would look good or socially acceptable to a child?
  • Will I have enough time and money to take care my child once he/she is born?

Checklist 2: Do I have enough money to complete the surrogacy process?

Surrogacy process isn’t cheap, even in Mexico. Surrogacy in Mexico is more affordable than that in the United States, but there are many hidden costs that surrogacy agencies may not tell you about. Realistically, in 2024, the approximate total cost of completing a surrogacy journey is about 80,000 to 100,000 USD, give or take 10,000 USD. The breakdown of the cost is listed below.

  1. Agency Cost including Medical Expenses: This is the biggest cost of a surrogacy journey. There is a wide range of cost depending on which program you choose. It can span between 50,000 USD and more than 95,000 USD, the difference stemming from guarantee terms, usage of egg donors, and other factors.
  2. Legal Cost in Mexico: A lawyer is needed to draft a surrogacy contract between the intended parent and the surrogate, register birth, and remove the surrogate from your baby’s birth certificate. Some agencies include the legal cost in their contract while some do not. If you have to hire your own lawyer in Mexico, the cost is typically around 8,000 to 12,000 USD.
  3. Legal Cost in Your Own Country: Sometimes, you may wish to let a lawyer review the contract your chosen agency gives you to sign. You may also need to do a second-parent adoption if your partner is not listed on your newborn’s birth certificate.
  4. Flight(s) to Mexico: You may need to fly to Mexico if you are depositing your sperm for embryo creation. You will have to fly to Mexico when your child is born.
  5. Stay in Mexico: After your child is born, most new parents have to stay in Mexico for at least 2 to 4 weeks. In most cases, new parents stay in Mexico for 1 to 3 months while they remove the surrogate’s name from the birth certificate. If you are staying in a decent apartment that you find in Airbnb in decent neighborhood, the living cost may range from 3,000 USD to 5,000 USD per month.
  6. Extra Medical Cost: If your surrogacy program doesn’t include unlimited embryo transfers and if all the included embryo transfers result in failure, you may have to pay for additional embryo transfers, which may range between 3,000 to 7,000 USD per attempt. If you run out of embryos to transfer to the surrogate, you may have to find another egg donor and do another round of IVF to create more embryos.
  7. Shipping Your Embryos: If you already have frozen embryos, you will need to ship them to the clinic in Mexico. In addition to the shipping cost, you may also have to pay an administrative fee to your fertility clinic.
  8. Newborn Insurance: If your newborn is born prematurely or otherwise needs to stay in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), you may be liable to pay up to $2,000 USD per day. To prevent this kind of expense, intended parents can buy newborn insurance that covers NICU stay. This may cost between 3,000 USD and 7,000 USD.
  9. Other Costs: Other potential costs include cost to change your surrogate, twin pregnancy fees, PGT-a testing, genetic counseling, and other costs. Some costs may be included in the contract with your agency, so it’s important to read your contract carefully and ask your agency questions.

Because there are many extra costs that may not be apparent in the beginning, you should have some “buffer” fund just in case.

Checklist 3: Can I stay in Mexico for months after my child is born?

Depending on which region you are doing surrogacy in Mexico, you may have to stay in Mexico for an extended period of time. Unless you are doing surrogacy in Sinaloa or Tabasco where legal framework for surrogacy is established, the birth certificate will list the name of the surrogate as the mother. If you are a male, your name will be on the birth certificate as the father if you have donated the sperm. If you are a female, your name will not be in the birth certificate when your baby is born. Depending on your situation and where you are doing surrogacy, you may be forced to amend the birth certificate to include your or your partner’s name and remove the surrogate’s name. This process is called the Amparo Process, which is a court process taking place in the local Mexican court.

Amparo process typically takes 1 to 3 months, the exact time of which depends on many factors such as the competency of your law team, the jurisdiction, and whether the judge you get is friendly to surrogacy cases. There are people who have stayed in Mexico for 5 months or more while attending to this process. Will you be able to keep your job while staying with your baby in Mexico for potentially an extended amount of time? Can you work remotely? Do you have enough fund to stay in Mexico for several more months than initially anticipated? These are the questions you have to ask yourself before starting the surrogacy process as it impacts which agency you would choose and which jurisdiction you want to do surrogacy in.

Checklist 4: Have I been informed about my own medical situation? Do I understand how the surrogacy process would look like for me?

Before you start a surrogacy journey with an agency or a clinic, you should have a general understanding of the surrogacy process in general. You should understand the path that you will take based on your situation. For example, if you are in a male same-sex relationship, you will need to understand that you would need an egg donor and embryo creation using IVF. However, if you already have embryos created in a fertility clinic in your home country, you would need to ship your embryos to the clinic used by your agency.

Before deciding to do surrogacy in Mexico, talk to your fertility doctor or nurse in your home country. They will be able to give you relevant medical advices. They can tell you what the process would look like for you, whether surrogacy is the right path for you, whether you should use your own eggs or sperms or a donated egg or sperm, among other vitally important information.

Checklist 5: Is Mexico the best surrogacy destination for me, or is there another destination that is more suitable?

Mexico is an appealing destination for many intended parents. It is politically stable, relatively safe, democratic, and friendly to LGBTQ+. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, approximately 69% of Mexican respondents said that homosexuality should be accepted by society, which marked a noticeable increase from earlier surveys. Mexico is also close to Canada and the United States, which makes it a much more accessible destination for Canadians and Americans than destinations in South America, Europe, or Africa. The legality of surrogacy for foreigners and LGBTQ+ is firmly supported by the 2021 Supreme Court decision, which makes Mexico a relatively legally safe destination for medical tourism involving surrogacy.

That being said, there may be other destinations that may be more suitable for you. For example, despite its high cost, the United States still remains as one of the most popular destinations for surrogacy because of world-class medical expertise, high success rates, high standard of living, possibility of pre-birth order, and the possibility for your newborn to obtain American citizenship. If you are heterosexual and married, Greece may be a good destination as it has a clear legal framework for surrogacy that includes provisions for international intended parents, recognizing the intended parents’ legal rights from birth.

Checklist 6: Have I researched enough about agencies in Mexico?

After you decide to do surrogacy in Mexico based on medical advice from your fertility doctor, research about the surrogacy agencies operating in Mexico. Surrogacy agencies in Mexico are certainly not made equal. Some agencies have shorter match time for a surrogate than other agencies, and some agencies offer more comprehensive packages than others. It is important to talk to multiple agencies and ask tough questions to see how they respond. In order to be able to ask the right questions and make an informed decision, it is important that you understand the surrogacy process specific to your situation.

Have you researched the legality of bring back a child born through surrogacy to your home country, based on your situation? Each country has its own laws governing the passage of parentage and citizenship born through surrogacy. For example, if you are a Canadian, recognition of parentage and passage of Canadian citizenship to your child are relatively simple; genetic link is not a requirement, and therefore DNA test of your child is not necessary. However, if you are an American citizen, you may have to submit the result of DNA test, along with other documentations such as hospital records and surrogacy contract, to prove your genetic relationship to your child in order to be issued a CRBA. In addition, if you have a partner who is not listed on your baby’s birth certificate, you may have to amend the birth certificate through Amparo process in Mexico or have your partner adopt the child in your home country. If you lack the citizenship in the country you reside, this may introduce additional legal complications.

The law is constantly changing, so it’s important for you to understand the legal aspects of surrogacy in Mexico and in your own country. To do this, you may want to consult an immigration or family lawyer in your home country to make sure the child you have through surrogacy can be safely brought back to your country with you being the legal parent.

Checklist 8: Am I prepared emotionally for the up-and-downs of my surrogacy journey?

Surrogacy journey is an adventure, with a reward at the end of the road that is worth anything. Its road, however, is not linear, and it will have a lot of up-and-downs. Some intended parents wait for months in frustration while waiting for a surrogate match. When an embryo transfer fails, it brings an indescribable disappointment that an intended parent has to overcome. I, myself, had to go through months of taking supplements and changing my lifestyle in order to improve my sperm quality and make a deposit at a clinic in Mexico City, only to fall into a disagreement with my agency and be forced to switch an agency. A surrogacy journey is an emotional journey, and sometimes, I think that you need to have a nerve of steel to complete the process. You need to be patient and optimistic, and you have to ask yourself if you have enough room in your heart to take on this journey.

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