“After at least two international trips and extended stays in a foreign country at American-style hotels, and lost wages for up to three months while you wait to return home after the birth, the costs often average out to being comparable,” said Jon Anderson.
Another woman I met through Morrigan, A.B., was in the middle of what she calls “the hectic bureaucracy of Indian laws.” She laid out her costs as follows: $54,000 already paid to various agencies, egg donor services, and IVF clinics, and another $39,000 to be charged for further IVF treatments, surrogate care, embryo shipment, two flights to Delhi, and completion of Indian paperwork to okay the baby for U.S. citizenship. These numbers don’t yet include the cost of the genetic testing, hospital costs during and after birth, hotel stays, or additional extra paperwork. She estimated that her grand total would be over $100,000. Exhausted by the process, she recently decided to give up despite having spent over $50,000.
Morrigan went through several hoops and delays after birth awaiting her visa approval. She said that while securing citizenship for an American baby born through international surrogacy is messy business, it was easy compared to the other challenges she faced in the surrogacy process.
“Most times, you have to get the child’s birth certificate by going to the consulate and proving through a DNA test that the child is genetically related to a U.S. Citizen,” she explains. “Once that’s verified, you apply for your passport and other travel necessities. Once in the country, you must go to the foreigners registration office (FRRO) where you prove that you have paid all your bills in India, to the surrogate, the hospital, the clinic that provided the IVF, and even the hotel where you are staying. If people are not paid, you don’t get to leave.”
International Fertility Centre, Morrigan's second company in her surrogacy journey, covered all medical and pregnancy costs in their package and facilitated the entire procedure. She said the entire process, despite hang ups, cost her around $70,000.
“We’re paying our surrogate $12,500, which will allow her to buy a house and put her daughter through private school up to the eighth grade,” Morrigan said. “We made sure the money would be under her name.”
Morrigan had to specifically enforced this because the patriarchal society in India often relegates the payment to a women’s husband. Sometimes, the women participating in commercial surrogacy never see the money at all. Critics of this type of overseas surrogacy say that this process exploits poor women by using their bodies, when they may not understand the full implications of pregnancy, birth, and what responsibilities they are actually undertaking—and therefore not able to give full consent. Morrigan disagrees with this.