At first glance, surrogacy can seem like an intimidating process with many complex medical steps and surrogacy laws varying from country to country. Therefore, understanding the pros and cons is crucial to make an informed decision to protect your interests.
When considering surrogacy, one of the first questions that will pop up is “Where?” If you use Google, Yahoo, or any other search engine to find where to set up a surrogacy, you will get a bunch of seemingly interesting options, but are all of them safe and legally secure for you and your family? Unfortunately, the answer is no!
Nowadays, several countries have legally recognized surrogacy, including the US, Canada, Ukraine, Greece, Portugal, and the UK. However, there are also several unregulated countries in which the surrogacy laws are evolving, and they should be avoided.
Canada is one of the few secure and well-established destinations worldwide to conduct an altruistic surrogacy process with a supportive legal framework in most provinces. To help intended parents learn more about this option, we spoke with Sally Rhoads-Heinrich, the founder of Surrogacy in Canada Online (SCO). SCO is one of the leading surrogacy agencies in Canada and has been assisting intended parents and surrogates with information, referrals, and support since 2001.
Is surrogacy legal in Canada?
Yes, surrogacy is legal in Canada. The Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) is federal legislation that sets out the activities that are permitted and those that are prohibited altogether. Intended parents need to know that the AHRA permits surrogacy, but a surrogate may only be reimbursed for her reasonable out of pocket expenses related to the surrogacy process. Compensation or an offer of compensation to a woman acting as a surrogate is prohibited under law and subject to serious penalty. If a woman has had her own children and wishes to carry a child for another family, becoming a surrogate mother in Canada is a legal and viable option.
How much do surrogacy laws vary from province to province? Which provinces are the most surrogacy-friendly and which should be avoided?
Canadian surrogacy law is federal, so it is the same in every province and territory—it’s legal to do surrogacy. However, Quebec is the only province that does not recognize surrogacy contracts; you can do surrogacy in Quebec, but if there is a dispute among the parties, the courts will not recognize the surrogacy contract. There are also differences among the provinces with respect to birth certificates, so you’ll want to consult with a Canadian fertility lawyer about the process of applying for your child’s birth certificate.
The majority of surrogacy arrangements happen in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, where intended parents can quickly get birth certificates for their children (which can be important for international intended parents who need to apply for a passport for their child to travel home).
What’s the cost of surrogacy in Canada?
We recommend intended parents have a budget of $80,000 for a gestational surrogacy arrangement in Canada. (If you already have frozen embryos, we recommend a budget of $60,000). We have a detailed cost chart here.
What are the main differences between surrogacy in Canada and the US?
Surrogacy in Canada is altruistic, meaning surrogates cannot receive a fee for carrying a baby. In the US, surrogacy is commercialized, meaning surrogates can receive fees for the baby they carry. Commercial surrogacy agencies are also prohibited in Canada, so we have surrogacy consultants. Surrogacy consultants can introduce intended parents and surrogate mothers to one another, but they cannot “pair” or “match make” like a US agency can.
How secure is it for international intended parents to pursue surrogacy in Canada? What is the first step to getting started with an international surrogacy in Canada?
Canada is a very safe and secure option for international intended parents. The first step is to consult with a fertility lawyer both in Canada and in their home country.
How does marital status or sexual orientation affect the surrogacy process in Canada?
In Canada, every person has the right to become a parent via surrogacy regardless of their ethnic origin, religion, age, marital status, gender, or sexual orientation.
What is your number one piece of advice for intended parents who want to pursue surrogacy in Canada?
Intended parents should focus not just on what their surrogate can do for them but what they can do for their surrogate! Altruistic surrogacy is very different from commercial surrogacy—surrogates are primarily motivated by experiencing the journey and the relationship with their intended parents. It’s important to form a relationship with not just your surrogate but her family (partner and children) as well because they are also helping you have your family. We often say in Canada that surrogates do it for the relationship with their IP’s, not for the money.
For more information, you can get in contact with Sally through her website at www.surrogacy.ca
Keep in mind that although Canada is among the most secure countries in which to undergo a surrogacy process, you must seek legal advice both locally and in your home country (for international intended parents) to be sure that you don’t break any regulation and to set you up for the process ahead.