Outsourcing Your Surrogacy to a Foreign Country

Victoria Ferrara

9/4/14

A recent article featured in the Los Angeles Times quoted a young woman, Myleen Sjodin, who had recently arrived back in the states after her daughter was carried and birthed by a surrogate in India. She said: "Our goal is that other intended parents don't get manipulated. I love Indian culture and we thought we were getting a good deal, but in the end we've paid nearly as much as doing it in the U.S."

Since 2002, when its highest court declared surrogacy to be legal, India's surrogacy industry has grown in leaps and bounds. Today, India's infertility industry is an estimated US $2.3 billion annually. 

Many couples residing outside of India have been attracted by the lower costs and absence of regulation of surrogacy that India has become known for in the field.  However, intended parents should be wary of the many problems and uncertainties that come with pursuing surrogacy abroad.

Myleen and Jan Sjodin, a couple from Toronto, decided to become first time parents using a surrogate in India in an attempt to save on the higher costs associated with surrogacy in the United States. After receiving additional deductions for several referrals sent to the Doctor from Myleen, the couple's bill came to about $12,500. 

Three short weeks before the birth, the Sjodins were blindsided when the doctor's office claimed that the initial agreement reflected only the base price, and that the "final bill" included a price increase of $7,000. Already nervous and emotionally fragile because of the impending birth of their first child, the Sjodins paid the bill, not knowing what else to do.

On another occasion, the same doctor presented the Sjodins with a bill from the hospital where their daughter had been delivered, which the Sjodins later discovered was three times higher than the rate prevailing in the market. The doctor had not even paid the outside hospital bill as was required under the parties' agreement. 

In India, where regulation of the field is sparse, medical boards rarely sanction their own members and lawsuits can creep on for years and years. The Sjodins, anxious to put an end to their saga, paid the hospital directly, retrieved their daughter and headed home. But the nightmare did not end there. When the family tried to leave India, the doctor's team interfered with their efforts to obtain visas, adding significant delays and expense.

Jan Sjodin described the experience: "We were robbed of our joy as first-time parents."   And Myleen says: "They jacked up [the price], knowing intended parents are quite desperate.  I was extremely nervous, scared, and angry."

The lesson to be learned from the Sjodins is that while pursuing surrogacy abroad may appear to be cheaper, it comes with added costs and stress often unanticipated by eager intended parents.

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