Not many Americans realize it, but we are blessed in our country to have many states that recognize gestational surrogacy as a legitimate and legal means of building a family. In many countries, even developed European nations, surrogacy is either illegal or so restricted that it’s virtually impossible to achieve. This leads many hopeful parents from other countries to utilize American surrogacy services to grow their families.
When surrogate mothers are accepted into the role of surrogacy, they can choose to work only with local intended parents, or they can accept a long-distance arrangement. Many surrogate mothers are now even happy to work with international intended parents. However, working with people from another country can raise questions beyond the normal uncertainties of surrogacy. Although it may take a bit of extra effort, most surrogate mothers report that working with international intended parents is every bit as rewarding and joyful as working with local or domestic intended parents.
Location, Location, Location
The biggest question asked about an agreement between an American surrogate and international intended parents is usually, “Where will everything take place?” The answer is, as you can guess, wherever the surrogate lives. It is the surrogate who is pregnant and relying upon her support system for many months, so it is the intended parents’ responsibility to travel if and when desired. Some couples travel more than others, and some even temporarily move to America to be closer to the surrogate!
Kristina, a surrogate who worked with intended parents from Scandinavia, explained that her intended parents visited once to meet her, once for the unveiling of the 20 week ultrasound, and then stayed in a subleased apartment for two months before the birth to ensure they wouldn’t miss it. They chatted through text messaging and email frequently as well. According to Kristina, it allowed for a wonderful relationship of mutual respect and shared excitement.
One of the most common reasons that surrogates might shy away from working with international intended parents is the perceived communication gap. Some agencies provide translators, but in truth many international intended parents can speak English. If language proves to be a true barrier, technology makes it simple to use written communication and an automatic translator to still talk effectively.
Another surrogate mother shared her story of working with a couple from Belgium, and she explained that she taught her intended parents bits of English while they taught her French. In fact, she said it was an incredibly enriching experience for her and her own children, who loved being able to learn about a new culture. In her own words, “Working with a family of different culture, background, and lifestyle has been a fulfilling reward for my entire family. With mutual respect of one another’s needs and acceptance of each other’s personalities and characteristics, we have found balance in our relationship.”
Overall, working with international intended parents can be a rewarding experience without any of the pitfalls that surrogates may fear.