[quote=theburmese]Hi. I’m new to the idea of surrogacy, and was hoping someone could point me in the right direction. I went through many rounds of IVF before finally getting pregnant 2 years ago with donor eggs. …
2. Has anyone used a surrogate in India? How did it go? And how do you go about finding a safe, reputable company?[/quote]
It can be very complicated, legally speaking, to bring a baby home from India (or any other country) when you use a surrogate, especially when you used donor eggs to conceive the baby. Sometimes it’s fairly simple and quick, and sometimes it’s more complicated, and sometimes it’s hellaciously complicated–and you won’t know in advance how it will be for you. US law currently is very backwards, and does not recognize that baby as being (1) your (the mother’s) baby or (2) a US citizen. If your husband is a US citizen and his sperm were used, and you can prove that by doing genetic testing on the baby to show he is the father, then the baby will be recognized as his (but still not necessarily as yours) and as a US citizen.
What that means in practical terms is that you will have to stay in India for at least several weeks after the birth, and possibly months, to complete the process of having your baby recognized as (1) your baby and (2) a US citizen (i.e., genetically related to your husband). That process will involve having genetic testing done and then, assuming it shows your US citizen husband is the father, doing more paperwork (which is required for a US citizen father to transmit citizenship to a baby born to a woman who is not his wife–i.e. the surrogate), and then waiting for the baby’s passport to be processed.
Here are some links about citizenship issues when having a baby abroad (through surrogacy or otherwise). These are straight from the US State Department, which is who handles these things, so it could not be more official:
Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship by a Child Born Abroad - note that the section in there that applies to surrogacy may be, depending on how the consulate wants to handle it, is birth abroad out of wedlock to a US citizen father–in other words they may not initially consider the child to be yours, just your husband’s, so you guys would have to do all the things listed under that section in order to get the baby a passport to come home.
Surrogacy, ART and DNA Testing | Embassy of the United States - this is straight from the US Embassy in New Delhi, about surrogacy in India. This warns you of some potential problems and then tells you, [B]step by step, exactly what you would need to do for it to go smoothly[/B].
Important Information for U.S. Citizens Considering the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Abroad
The other problem is having your embryos shipped to India safely, legally and cost effectively. That’s really two problems:
(1) getting them there–that’s a long trip and if something goes wrong with the tank they’re in, they will die; and
(2) being sure that the embryos your surrogate is being implanted with are the embryos you sent.
Mixups can happen, all the more so when things get complicated (such as shipping embryos internationally), and regrettably, some Indian clinics have been known to be a little cavalier with people’s gametes–literally, for instance, swapping out a patient’s eggs or sperm for donor eggs or sperm if they don’t think the patient’s ones will work, WITHOUT telling the patient. If the embryos that they implant in the surrogate are NOT yours, then the baby will NOT be genetically related to your husband and it may therefore not be possible to bring the baby home.
And even if it is your embryo, and your husband is a US citizen who has lived in the US long enough to transmit his US citizenship to a baby born abroad (see the links above for details on that), and the baby gets a US passport easily, I don’t know whether you would be able to bring the baby home by yourself; your husband might need to travel with the baby, since he would be its father but it is possible that until you get the baby back home you will not be recognized, for purposes of crossing the US border, as the baby’s mother. I’m not sure how that works but it’s something to look into.
I hope this doesn’t freak you out too much. It’s scary, but I just figure it’s better to know how all this works FIRST, before you go into it, so that you can weigh the pros and cons of your various options. One of the main things to compare is the true cost, since although the actual surrogacy part is much cheaper in India, there are all these extra costs:
The cost of shipping the embryos
Both of you having to fly to India, possibly more than once
At least one of you having to stay in India with the baby for several weeks, and possibly months, while the paperwork and genetic testing is done. Can you take that much time off work? Can you afford months of hotel and restaurant bills in India? Can you find good infant formula and safe water to mix with it, and if not, can you afford to have some shipped there from the States? If, say, your husband has to go home for work but also has to be the one who flies home with the baby, can you afford, in terms of ticket costs and time off work, to have him fly back and forth to India again?
The cost of genetic testing and legal fees.
Unanticipated costs: what if you or the baby gets sick during those weeks or months after birth that you’re living in India? Is there a good hospital nearby? How much does it cost? If you get sick and your husband’s back in the States working, who will take care of the baby?
And so on. I wish you guys all the luck in the world, whatever you decide to do!