There are lots of reasons that UK intended parents look to the US for surrogacy and the decision is deeply personal and dependent on what key criteria need to be factored in.
At Brilliant Beginnings we are excited that the law commission is reviewing surrogacy law here in the UK. This is likely to take years to come to fruition however, the current law means that the woman who gives birth to a baby is the legal parent at the birth, and her spouse would be the other. The parental order process extinguishes this responsibility and grant the intended parents with legal parentage. This is a post birth process however, and means that everyone feels a sense of uncertainty until completed. Everyone in the team (surrogates and intended parents) have to trust that they will follow through on their intentions. In reality things rarely go wrong if surrogacy teams have spent time setting things up properly, for many the uncertainty is just too much however.
The US offers much more clarity, and whilst it is state specific, laws are generally favourable to surrogacy. They offer certainty for all involved, through legally enforceable agreements and defined routes to legal parentage either before or shortly after baby is born. This offers intended parents far more certainty, but importantly does the same for surrogates, and this is one reason why there are more surrogates in the US.
All surrogates are amazing, and it is important to make it clear that the vast majority of women deciding to be surrogates do so with one goal in mind. To give the gift of parenthood to someone else. This is no different in the US or UK, however in the US there are simply far more women deciding to do so than in the UK. This is for a variety of reasons; awareness, legal certainty and excellent support from established organisations to name a few. This all means that whilst it can be very difficult to find a surrogate here in the UK, intended parents can look to the US and find out with a good degree of certainty how long they might need to wait for that amazing woman to help. For many intended parents the thought of a wait of undetermined time here in the UK is just too much considering what they have often already been through.
Surrogates in the US get compensated for being a surrogate in addition to reimbursement for expenses (which is the position here in the UK). The amounts involved do vary, and budgeting for these is important. It is not the case however that this is the sole, or even primary motivator for women considering being surrogates. Their motivations are invariably the same as those of women here in the UK. Intended parents should not feel that paying this extra in any way detracts from the amazing thing surrogates do.
In reality it is unlikely that intended parents will be able to visit a surrogate in the US as regularly as they would be able to within the UK. Intended parents keen to see and visit the surrogate regularly, and attend all scans and appointments during pregnancy will have to think carefully about the logistics of this. For clinical appointments there are many ways to manage this, and there are US clinics that are well versed in looking after international intended parents. This is a big compromise that many intended parents make however, and likewise is something that needs to be clear from the outset to ensure that the surrogate’s preferences here are also met. This does not mean there is no relationship however! Many of the intended parents going to the US that we support at Brilliant Beginnings have close and continued relationships with the women that have helped them, and it is wonderful to see how distance can be overcome in so many wonderful and touching ways.
Standards of clinics vary both in the UK and in the US, and it can be difficult to find a clinic that is well versed in surrogacy, and has good success rates. The important extra dimension in the USA, is that the clinic has experience with international intended parents too. For intended parents looking for an egg donor to help them, USA donors are compensated, there is a lot of choice, short waits, and often the opportunity to meet the donor. In the UK there is significant variation between areas, and intended parents will often have to wait months for a donor, with the choice being far more limited.
These are higher in the US than the UK. There are a number of different factors that contribute to this, health insurance, surrogate compensation to name a couple. It is really important to us that we can help intended parents have an accurate picture of these. For a more in depth look into costs and indeed any of the differences, and things to consider for a surrogacy journey, Brilliant Beginnings offers an Options Review meeting.
See more details on this here. Keep an eye on our Facebook page, and website for more information.
We also run frequent free to attend events focussing on different routes. Register here for our upcoming US event.
To find out more about BB, how we work, our team or ask any questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7050 6875.