International Surrogacy & ART Arrangements
International surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology (ART) arrangements like egg donation, have been increasing in popularity and frequency in the last several years. Some countries are even becoming “destination countries” for this type of “medical tourism” or cross-border reproductive care.
There are two types of international surrogacy cases: (1) incoming cases (meaning a child is born abroad and brought into the United States to live with the intended parents); and (2) outgoing cases (meaning a child is born in the United States and is leaving the United States to live with the intended parents abroad).
Incoming Surrogacy Cases. Incoming surrogacy cases are fairly unregulated, and some of the practices that have developed abroad within this “industry” are quite scary. Many issues have arisen for children born of these arrangements. There are news stories of children being left stateless, parentless, or both in the destination countries. There are stories of intended parents being stranded in a foreign country because the local courts will not recognize their parentage of the child they created. There are also grave concerns about the exploitation of impoverished women who are surrogates and egg donors in destination countries.
Often U.S. citizens travel abroad for surrogates and fertility treatments because they think it will cost less. This is not always true, especially when you factor in the attorney fees the intended parents may have to pay to address the U.S. immigration status and citizenship of their child. The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) strongly warns any individual considering an international surrogacy or ART arrangement to consult with a U.S. attorney first, one who is experienced in these matters and practices immigration law. There are several attorneys in AAAA who focus on this unique area of law. Search for attorneys with a specialty in “intercountry adoption” in our Directory.
An attorney with this experience should speak with you about the different destination countries, reputable fertility clinics and coordinating programs, and how to ensure that the arrangements are conducted ethically and morally for all participants. They should also discuss strategies to ensure that the child born has secure parentage and will have some type of immigration status or citizenship in the United States after birth.
Outgoing Surrogacy Cases. As for outgoing surrogacy cases, some foreign individuals come to the United States for surrogacy and fertility treatments because of the state-of-the-art technology and sometimes because surrogacy is forbidden in their country of residence. These individuals should of course have an attorney in the United States in the state where the surrogate resides. Foreign intended parents are also strongly cautioned to retain an attorney in their home country to address the child’s parentage and citizenship in the home country; in fact, many U.S. surrogacy attorneys will require any foreign intended parent-clients to have this type of consultation prior to proceeding with the case.
International ART Arrangements Other Than Surrogacy. International ART arrangements other than surrogacy, such as when a U.S. citizen travels abroad for egg donation and/or in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer, can also create complex immigration and parentage issues, depending on the countries involved. Anyone considering an ART procedure above should consult with a U.S. immigration and ART attorney, prior to any medical procedures taking place. Search for attorneys with a specialty in “intercountry adoption” in our Directory.
AAAA is deeply committed to the protection of all participants involved in international surrogacy and ART arrangements, including the intended parents, the surrogates, the donors, and the children born as a result of these arrangements. AAAA has been participating in an extensive study period to help The Hague Conference on Private International Law in Holland decide whether it will recommend a treaty to regulate intercountry surrogacy, as it did with intercountry adoption in 1993.
Here are some useful links for individuals considering international surrogacy or ART: