People consider international commercial surrogacy for a variety of reasons. Many have questions about whether it is the right option for them.

Some people are unable to have a child due to infertility or other health issues, or because of discrimination against their sexual identity, orientation, or marital status. These barriers may limit options for adoption or using reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization.

The journey to create a family has taken many intended parents outside their own country in search of surrogacy arrangements. Yet, as commercial surrogacy increases in countries outside the United States, so have examples of dishonest clinics, agencies, attorneys, and other go-betweens exploiting the hopes of those wanting a child.

Issues Intended Parents Face

In some cases, intended parents are subjected to fraud and overcharging. More often, they are denied basic information.

For example, they may not be made aware that laws in their country can differ from laws in the country where the child is born with respect to parental rights, legal determinations of the “best interests of the child,” the child’s citizenship, and the legality of surrogacy agreements. These differences can result in confusion, extensive administrative paperwork, unexpected expenses, and delays returning home.

Other issues intended parents might face when considering international commercial surrogacy include:

  • Clinics and agencies requiring large financial payments with no guarantee of a child.
  • Clinics limiting the amount of contact with/information about gestational mothers and egg providers – before, during, and after pregnancy – even if some relationship is desired.
  • Clinics and agencies withholding information about payment to and medical treatment of gestational mothers and egg providers.
  • Clinics and agencies offering expensive “deluxe” services, such as implanting embryos in multiple gestational mothers at once in order to guarantee a child, by a certain date, but not providing accurate information about what happens to fetuses, or children born, in excess of the arrangement.

Working With Go-Betweens

Complete and reliable information is absolutely necessary to help intended parents avoid coercion and heartbreak while pursuing their goal of forming a family.

While many go-betweens genuinely want to help intended parents create a family, much of the information available to the public on international commercial surrogacy is offered by go-betweens with a financial stake in these arrangements.

This information can be misleading, designed to reassure intended parents and discourage questions, even about practices they might find troubling. It can, therefore, be difficult to get a full and accurate picture of the different health, financial, and human rights issues.

Surrogacy360 aims to bridge information gaps by documenting how international commercial surrogacy is practiced and how it affects everyone involved in the surrogacy relationship.

We hope all parties will join our efforts to promote best medical practices and transparency. Without collective involvement, there is no way to ensure that expanded reproductive options are available for everyone — and, at the same time, guarantee sound medical care and fair work conditions for those who make these options possible.


Top photo: Rob Bertholf (cc)