Couples from Europe, Latin America, and beyond have brought their embryos to America's shores--and particularly to surrogate mothers in Illinois. This "new twist in global fertility tourism" is largely an effect of differing national laws surrounding paid surrogacy: The state of Illinois is particularly receptive, and would-be moms and dads from around the globe have responded. Inquires, according to one director, have recently skyrocketed. "There's such pride in knowing that I did this for somebody," one woman tells the Tribune, pregnant with her second transnational baby (this one from Spain, the first having been from Serbia).
In the last five years, would-be parents from as far as Istanbul and Uruguay have turned to healthy young mothers from Illinois to carry their children.
The babies are born U.S. citizens, surrogacy agency officials say, but that's not a primary motivation for the parents, who typically come from European and Latin American countries where surrogacy is illegal or unavailable. The parents have exhausted other options and are willing to pay about $50,000 to $100,000 -- part of which goes to the surrogate -- to have biological children.
No one tracks how many of the estimated 1,400 babies via surrogacy in the U.S. each year are carried for international parents, but one of the larger U.S. agencies, the Center for Surrogate Parenting in Encino, Calif., estimates that about half of its 104 births in 2010 were for international parents.
In Illinois, which has had one of the most surrogacy-friendly laws in the nation, at least two dozen international babies were born to surrogates in 2010, according to a Tribune survey of major agencies. The only other states that explicitly allow contracts for paid surrogacy are Arkansas, California and Massachusetts.
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