Surrogacy has quickly gained traction after it evolved in the Western world. The United States and Canada are countries that have most often been affiliated with surrogacy. The practice has grown and spread to other regions of the world.
This spread resulted from the widespread recognition that surrogacy can help grow families, while the myths around the process have concurrently been debunked. This article focuses on how the practice of surrogacy is progressing in India, Kenya, and Ukraine.
Surrogacy within India has been growing increasingly popular amongst intended parents from industrialized countries. This popularity stemmed from the relatively low costs and easy access that was offered by surrogacy agencies in India.
Intended parents spent an average of between $10,000 and $25,000 for the complete package, which is significantly lower than the amount charged within Western Countries.
However, an Indian surrogacy law passed in December of 2018 made commercial surrogacy illegal, allowing only altruistic surrogacy for needy couples that were experiencing fertility challenges.
The law also implemented stricter requirements such as only allowing surrogacy for couples married for five years or longer, and only those with a doctor’s certificate that ascertained infertility.
India also restricted women to
- serving as surrogate mothers only once,
- depending on their marital status, having a biological child, and
- being a close relative to the intended parents.
Subsequently, India banned
- same-sex couples,
- live-in couples,
- and single people from surrogacy.
These changes highlight the dawn of a new era of surrogacy in Asia since other countries like Nepal and Thailand have taken up similar legislation and enforcement.
After the United States, Ukraine is the second most popular destination for foreign couples that seek surrogacy services. Unlike the proceedings in India, commercial surrogacy is legal in Ukraine.
Reports from DW indicate that more than 2,000 pregnancies are carried to term annually for foreign intended parents. Fertility clinics and renowned surrogacy agencies like BioTexCom have fielded a myriad of calls from intended parents outside Ukraine, desperately requesting updates on the surrogate mothers they enlisted.
Some fertility facilities have assured parents of the well-being of their surrogates, ensuring that women who flee will return for births. These facilities have some leverage, granted that surrogate mothers are paid in installments.
BioTexCom has taken the initiative to build a bomb shelter that protects surrogates and infants that are affiliated with the agency. However, this has done little to calm the fears of intended parents, since many fertility clinics are located in Kyiv, a hotbed of violence that has been repeatedly targeted by Russian troops.
Many intended parents have no alternative but to find a way into Ukraine to collect newborn babies. This is because Ukrainian law necessitates the physical presence of both parents to process the paperwork that recognizes a couple as legal guardians of a child. These circumstances have jointly made for an uncertain future for surrogacy in Ukraine.
Despite having no specific laws that govern surrogacy, Kenya has been successfully offering surrogacy to African intended parents for a long time. However, the Kenyan constitution protects the right to form families and be part of one, further describing the family as a fundamental basis of social order.
Suitably, the capital city of Nairobi has a large number of IVF clinics run by successful IVF professionals from India among other nations.
After the recent challenges with surrogacy in Southern and Southeast Asia, several agencies have turned to Kenya and similar destinations for relatively low-cost surrogacy. While the lure of low-cost programs is attracting foreign couples to the region, there are some lurking risks. These include the general appraisal of medical facilities in the country as poorly planned and mediocre to an extent.
This realization has prompted surrogacy agencies like SENSIBLE to issue an advisory about surrogacy in Kenya. The agency advises clients to be cautious of options in Kenya and to alternatively consider other options such as Eastern Europe and low-cost options in the United States. Reports indicate that the latter options are safer and realize higher success rates.
This advisory extends surrogacy at its core and extends to other prevailing conditions in Kenya. A same-sex couple is a controversial topic in the nation, and much of the social culture views the topic from an anti-homosexuality viewpoint. Therefore, foreign couples seeking surrogates in Kenya should heed some helpful cues.
Same-sex couples traveling to Kenya should exercise strict discretion which extends to public spaces. It is wise to not represent oneself as a same-sex couple within the country. Similarly, surrogate agreements should involve one partner and the surrogate, and intentionally not mention the sexual orientation or relationship status of the intended parent.
Furthermore, there are upcoming regulations that will affect people pursuing surrogacy in Kenya in the future. There is an Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill that is still pending. The legislation would limit Kenya to altruistic surrogacy agreements only, following the template used to regulate surrogacy in more advanced nations like Australia, the UK, and other European nations.
The 21st century has realized significant evolution and changes in surrogacy. The instances in India, Ukraine, and Kenya indicate that surrogacy is becoming more regulated and scrutinized.
There is much to come since other regions and populations are rising to the occasion of using surrogacy to grow their families. You can get in touch with a surrogacy community to find out more about how the sector is evolving.