Finding a Surrogate in India
India has become one of the most popular destinations for international intended parents looking for surrogacy services. With excellent medical infrastructure, high success rates, and affordable costs, many couples from abroad are now choosing India to find a surrogate mother and fulfill their dreams of having a baby.
However, navigating the complex surrogacy process in India can be confusing for foreigners. There are many legal requirements, clinics to evaluate, and decisions to make. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about finding a surrogate in India as an international intended parent.
The Surrogacy Landscape in India
Surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002, with specialized surrogacy clinics and agencies providing full services to intended parents. India used to have very few regulations around surrogacy, which made the process easier and more affordable compared to most Western nations.
However, changes to India’s surrogacy laws in 2021 have prohibited international surrogacy arrangements. Only Indian couples who have been married for over 5 years can now undertake surrogacy in India.
Despite this, there are still options for foreigners looking for surrogacy in India if they partner with an eligible Indian couple. Clinics can arrange for a “shared” surrogacy journey, with the Indian couple acting as the official commissioning parents.
It’s critical to find an ethical, transparent clinic that follows all legal protocols. You’ll also need to plan for extra time and coordination working with the Indian couple as co-intended parents. But it’s still possible for many foreigners to pursue surrogacy successfully in India.
Choosing the Best Surrogacy Clinic
Your surrogacy agency or clinic will be your most important partner throughout the entire process in India. You need to find one that is ethical, professionally run, and meets all legal requirements.
Here are some factors to evaluate when choosing the right surrogacy clinic in India:
- Accreditation and Regulations – Make sure the clinic is accredited by the Indian Council for Medical Research. They should follow all regulations around surrogacy.
- Experience and Success Rates – Look for an established clinic with a long track record of successful surrogacy journeys and healthy births. Ask about their overall success rates.
- Services Offered – Look for a clinic that provides the full spectrum of services required, including IVF, embryo transfer, legal support, escrow account management, housing for surrogates, etc.
- Location – Some intended parents prefer clinics in larger cities like Mumbai or Delhi due to convenience. But excellent options exist around the country.
- Costs- Ask for a complete cost breakdown. Clinics in smaller cities often have lower fees. But don’t choose based on cost alone.
- Reviews- Check out reviews from past clients online. Personal recommendations from others can also be helpful.
- Staff qualifications – Ensure the clinic has highly trained fertility specialists, embryologists, and support staff.
- Post-birth services – Find out about the clinic’s support for post-delivery, DNA testing, passport acquisition etc.
Taking the time to thoroughly research and compare different surrogacy clinics in India is the most important step. A good clinic will make the entire process as smooth as possible.
Choosing a Surrogate Mother
The clinic you select will typically provide full support for finding and screening potential surrogate mothers. Here are some important factors to consider when reviewing surrogate profiles:
- Age – Indian clinics will only work with surrogates between 25-35 years old, when fertility levels peak. Look for a surrogate under 35 to maximize success chances.
- Health – Opt for a surrogate with an established track record of healthy pregnancies and births. Review her full medical history closely.
- Prior experience – Ask about how many prior successful surrogate pregnancies/births the surrogate has had. Experienced carriers tend to have higher success rates.
- Lifestyle – Look for surrogates with a clean medical history and healthy lifestyle – no smoking, no drugs, no major medical issues.
- Motivation – Understand why the surrogate wants to carry your baby. Financial security is usually the primary motivation.
- Personality match – While you likely won’t meet your surrogate in person initially, try to get a sense of her personality and values.
- Preferences – If you have preferences around diet, activities, rest, etc. during pregnancy, convey them so they can be matched.
- Location – Find out where the surrogate mother lives, as some intended parents prefer to house surrogates nearby.
Trust your agency to vet and match you with the best possible surrogate for your needs. However, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions to gain comfort.
The Surrogacy Process
Once initial selection and screening of a surrogate is complete, the medical process begins. This includes:
- IVF Cycle – The clinic will harvest eggs from the intended mother or donor and fertilize them with sperm via IVF. Resulting embryos are cultured for 3-5 days.
- Transfer – 1 or 2 selected embryos are then transferred into the gestational carrier’s uterus. This is a quick, non-invasive procedure.
- Pregnancy Test – Around 2 weeks after transfer, doctors will test the surrogate to confirm pregnancy. Over 90% get pregnant after the first transfer.
- Early Monitoring – The clinic will closely monitor surrogate and baby health from the start with regular tests and ultrasounds. Supplements and medicines are provided as needed.
- Ongoing Communication – Intended parents will get regular updates on progress, medical reports, and ultrasounds to stay connected from afar.
The IVF cycle, embryo transfer, and subsequent management of the surrogate pregnancy are all handled seamlessly by your chosen surrogacy clinic. You just need to plan travel for the embryo transfer stage.
There are some key legal steps required to pursue surrogacy as an international intended parent in India:
- Notarized Agreement – A contract regarding the surrogacy arrangement must be notarized in India, abiding by Indian laws.
- Marriage Proof – If a couple, your original marriage certificate will need to be submitted and verified.
- Evidence of Infertility – Proof from a doctor of a medical need for surrogacy is required.
- Liability Insurance – Intended parents must purchase a liability insurance policy to cover surrogate care.
- Court Order – Before the baby’s birth Indian courts will issue an order naming the intended parents as legal guardians.
- Passport – The court order allows intended parents to acquire a passport and exit visa for the infant.
- Exit Clearance – A certificate from the Indian consulate is needed to permit the baby to exit India.
Reputable surrogacy clinics will handle all legal formalities efficiently. But you need to provide necessary documentation, get the proper insurance, and plan to stay in India for 2-3 months after birth to complete all procedures.
Surrogacy Costs in India
Surrogacy in India is significantly more affordable compared to other countries worldwide, often less than half the price. Here are typical costs to expect:
- Surrogate compensation – $15,000 – $20,000
- IVF procedures – $6,000 – $10,000
- Medicines – $3,000 – $5,000
- Legal fees – $2,000 – $4,000
- Clinic expenses – $10,000 – $15,000
- Housing for surrogate – $2,500 – $3,500
- Insurance – $1,500 – $2,500
- Documentation – $500 – $1,000
- Total – Around $40,000 – $60,000
Extra expenses arise if using an egg donor, if multiples are born requiring longer neonatal care, or if pregnancy attempts take multiple cycles. But overall, surrogacy in India costs a fraction of what it does in most Western countries.
Why India is a Top Surrogacy Destination
Here are some of the key reasons why India has become such a popular destination for international surrogacy:
- Advanced fertility treatment – India has state-of-the-art IVF clinics delivering results equal to top global facilities.
- Experienced staff – Indian clinics have very experienced teams who have facilitated thousands of surrogate births.
- Surrogate availability – India has a large pool of women interested in being surrogates at very affordable costs.
- Legal expertise – Established clinics have in-house teams handling all legal arrangements efficiently.
- Low costs – Surrogacy in India costs a fraction of comparable treatment in the U.S. or other countries.
- Friendly environment – Delhi and Mumbai have very modern, welcoming environments for foreigners.
- Post-birth support – Clinics provide everything needed for the newborn before discharge and travel.
By partnering with the right clinic, intended parents can minimize stress and achieve their dream of having a baby via surrogacy in India.
Finding the Right Surrogacy Agency
A good surrogacy agency provides the experience, guidance, and support that intended parents need every step of the way. Here are tips on choosing the right agency in India:
- Get referrals – Talk to others who have completed surrogacy successfully and ask who they recommend.
- Check credentials – Ensure the agency is licensed and fully accredited.
- Review costs – Get transparent pricing in writing for all services. Avoid places charging significantly less.
- Judge responsiveness – Do they respond promptly to your inquiries? Good communication is essential.
- Assess experience – Look for an agency with 10+ years of experience and hundreds of births.
- Ask about screening – Ensure thorough background checks and health screenings of surrogates.
- Get legal help – They should handle all contracts and documents and liaise with clinics.
- Learn about support – What post-delivery and travel planning help do they provide?
By finding an established surrogacy agency you trust, you can minimize stress and make your journey easier.
Questions to Ask any Surrogacy Clinic
As you evaluate potential surrogacy clinics, come prepared with questions to find the best fit. Here are some important queries you should ask:
- How long have you offered surrogacy services? How many successful births so far?
- What are your overall surrogate pregnancy success rates?
- How do you screen and select surrogate mothers? What is the profiles of available surrogates?
- Do you handle all legal contracts and procedures required?
- What IVF, medical specialists, and other staff will be involved? What are their qualifications?
- What options are available for acquiring eggs/sperm if needed?
- What is the step-by-step process after being matched with a surrogate?
- How does the embryo transfer process work? Do you provide support with travel and accommodation?
- What post-transfer care, testing, and monitoring is done during the pregnancy?
- How often will we receive pregnancy updates and ultrasounds?
- What accommodations and care are provided for the surrogate mother?
- What happens if pregnancy attempts are unsuccessful? Do we get refunds for failed cycles?
- What is the total cost estimate including all expenses? Are there any hidden fees?
- What support is offered for the birth, discharge, passport, and travel home with baby?
Being informed will help ensure you end up with the right clinic for a smooth surrogacy process.
Deciding on Delhi or Mumbai for Surrogacy
For international intended parents, Delhi and Mumbai are the two major destination cities for surrogacy in India. Here’s an overview of each:
- More affordable costs for treatment usually
- Excellent top clinics like New Delhi IVF and Swami Satyanand Hospital
- Very modern city with good infrastructure
- More pollution than other areas
- Direct flights from most locations worldwide
- Higher costs on average but many top clinics
- Leading clinics like Rotunda-CERC Centre, Bloom IVF, and Mumbai Fertility Clinic
- Cosmopolitan atmosphere very welcoming to foreigners
- Better air quality than Delhi
- Heavy traffic congestion is a downside
- Excellent global flight connections
Review leading clinic options in both cities. Talk to your agency about whether they have a recommendation between Delhi or Mumbai for your circumstances.
Flying time is only 2 hours between the cities, so you could also plan to split your time between both as needed.
Planning Your Trip for Embryo Transfer
You’ll need to fly to India for a stay of around 7-10 days during the embryo transfer phase. Here are some tips for planning your visit:
- Check visa requirements – You may need to obtain a Medical Visa for entry rather than a Tourist Visa.
- Book flexible flights – Dates could shift, so keep flight plans open and changeable.
- Allow extra days – Its best to go over 1 week to allow for any unexpected delays.
- Select hotels with airport transfers – Look for hotels that provide seamless pickup/drop-off.
- Inform your clinic – Give them your detailed travel plans so they can coordinate efficiently.
- Confirm appointments – Ensure embryo transfer and accompanying visits are fixed before flying.
- Rest post-transfer – Plan activities that don’t require too much exertion afterwards.
Streamline logistics with your clinic for a smooth, stress-free trip focused solely on the critical embryo transfer step.
Involving a Local Facilitator
Some intended parents work with a local “facilitator” while in India for surrogacy. They can provide very helpful support with:
- Navigating the clinics/agencies/hospitals
- Managing payments and tracking costs
- Helping fill prescriptions, attend check-ups etc.
- Organizing hospital admission and discharge
- Supporting document acquisition
- Providing language translation when needed
- Guiding intended parents around the city
- Assisting with hotel stays and transport
While not essential, a good local facilitator makes the process in India much easier for foreigners. They save you time and stress. Do extensive research to find one with excellent references.
Obtaining a Birth Certificate and Passport
After delivery of your baby in India via surrogacy, there is still some important paperwork required:
- Birth Certificate – The hospital will issue this document within a few days of the birth.
- Exit Visa – The foreign office must approve the baby exiting India back to parents’ home country.
- Passport – The baby will need a passport from their parents’ home country, requiring an application process.
- Document Checks – Hospitals will verify all paperwork is in order before hospital discharge.
- Certificate from Indian Consulate – This confirms you can travel with baby and acts as a visa.
Make sure your agency assists with securing the birth certificate quickly and then guides you through remaining steps. Passport acquisition can take 4-6 weeks.
Planning Your Return Home
Once you have the baby’s passport and clearance to travel, you can start planning the long flight back home. Tips include:
- Fly direct if possible – Opt for direct flights or minimal connections and stops if you can.
- Discuss bassinets – Inform the airline you’ll have an infant and request attachable bassinets.
- Check baggage allowances – You may get extra baggage allowance for baby supplies you’ll need.
- Prepare formula/food – Have enough ready-to-use formula and baby food for the whole journey.
- Pack sufficient diapers – You’ll need lots of diapers and regular changing opportunities.
- Keep baby calm – Bring some baby toys, books or music to try and keep baby relaxed.
- Get help boarding – Airlines can often provide early boarding, strollers, and other assistance.
While long flights with a newborn can be challenging, thorough planning and preparation will make the journey smoother.
Why Hire a Surrogacy Consultant?
Some intended parents work with specialized surrogacy consultants to help guide them through the complex process in India. Reasons to consider one include:
- Expert Guidance – They have deep expertise that you likely lack for navigating every step.
- Time Savings – They handle countless details and coordination so you needn’t spend full-time on the process.
- Problem Solving – Good consultants use their connections and knowledge to tackle any issues promptly.
- Negotiation – They can negotiate pricing and packages saving you thousands in some cases.
- Options & Advice – A consultant will explain all options fully and provide recommendations tailored for you.
- Objective Counsel – They offer unbiased guidance, with your needs in mind rather than a clinic’s.
- Queries & Support – A consultant is available to answer any questions before, during, and after the process.
The best consultants become trusted advisors and experts guiding you to the optimal decisions each step of the way.
Choosing an Egg Donor and Sperm Donor
Using an egg donor, sperm donor, or both may be necessary depending on your infertility conditions. Here are key selection factors:
- Background – Review profiles for education, career, skills, interests that resonate with you.
- Ethnic match – If a heritage/race match is important to you, specify this.
- Health history – Ensure they have no major conditions that could impact fertility or health.
- Prior donations – Look for those with proven successful past donations preferred.
- Physical resemblance – Some clinics provide childhood photos to match hair color, eye color etc.
- Personality – Understand motivations for donating and personality based on profiles.
- Location – If you have a country preference for the donor that can also be accommodated.
Take your time reviewing multiple donor options that your clinic presents. You want the best possible biological match conveying the traits most important to you.
Picking the Right Surrogacy Package
Surrogacy clinics offer different package options based on what services are included. Here are the advantages of comprehensive packages:
- Fixed pricing – An all-inclusive package locks in total costs upfront.
- No surprise fees – With everything bundled, you avoid fees for extras popping up.
- Simplicity – Complex a la carte pricing is eliminated for transparency and ease.
- Budgeting certainty – You’ll know your exact outlay from the start.
- Complete services – Optimal packages include every stage of the process fully covered.
- Risk reduction – Clinics often guarantee certain number of IVF cycles to reduce risk.
- Peace of mind – Knowing costs and plan ahead