What are the big differences between surrogacy in the US and Canada?
The United States is, together with Canada, one of the safest countries for surrogacy abroad. The favorable legislation non-residents find in many states is one of the main reason why foreign prospective parents travel to the U.S. and Canada in order to have their baby through a surrogacy process. What are the main differences between both countries?
Types of surrogacy allowed: Commercial vs Altruistic
Commercial surrogacy is legal in some states in the U.S., whereas other states allow only altruistic surrogacy and some forbid surrogacy altogether.
In Canada, as per the Assisted Human Reproduction Act passed in 2004, it is illegal for a surrogate mother or egg donor to be compensated for her services, except for the reimbursement of out of pocket expenses related to the pregnancy during the surrogacy process. The fact that surrogacy agreements must be 100% altruistic makes the number of women willing to be surrogate mothers to be a small one.
Waiting time to be matched
In both countries, you will need to wait to be matched with a surrogate because usually there are more intended parents than surrogates ready to be matched. In the U.S. a typical waiting time for finding a surrogate is from 3 to 6 months, while in Canada, due to the shortage of gestational surrogates the waiting time could be much longer, sometimes as long as a year.
Cost of surrogacy
- Health care system: in the United States, contrary to Canada, there is no national public health care service covering both the surrogate and the delivery, so if you pursue a surrogacy process in the United States you need to consider the costs of insurance premiums to cover the medical treatment during the pregnancy.
- Surrogate compensation: as previously mentioned, surrogacy in Canada is altruistic, this means that it is illegal to benefit commercially from surrogacy, however the surrogate is allowed to get reimbursements for expenses, as a result compensations in Canada are typically lower than in the United States. In US, on top of reimbursements, surrogates charge an amount for their service.
- Surrogacy agencies: In Canada, surrogacy agencies are not technically legal, they cannot match intended parents with surrogates because according to the law the responsibility to find a match is under the intended parents.
Despite legal limitations, Canadian agencies navigate the laws to support intended parents and surrogates during the surrogacy journey. The legal restrictions in Canada make the process, at some extent, less straightforward than in the US where a surrogacy consultant can manage the whole process.
On the other hand, as commercial surrogacy is allowed in the United States, there are a larger number of surrogacy consultant established in the country in comparison with Canada. Besides, they have a higher degree of professionalism at the same time that offer more complete packages that Canadian consultants, this makes that American agencies fees are typically higher than Canadian ones.
In the US and Canada, there are clear regulations and procedures for the intended parents to be registered as the legal parents of the baby, however the legal process may change depending on the State/Province where the surrogate lives.
On the other hand, unlike in some U.S. states, in Canada the surrogate holds the parental rights upon the baby’s birth, because there is no “pre-birth orders”.
As you can see, there are similarities but also important differences between both countries, and even if surrogacy is legal in some U.S. states and Canadian provinces, it’s important that you get in contact with a family lawyer and/or a surrogacy consultant specialized in fertility to learn more about the particularities about surrogacy in Canada and USA.