Because of the surrogate mother cost in California, many people who dream of becoming parents are looking to a seemingly unlikely place to fulfill their dream of becoming parents: India. In recent years, gestational surrogacy procedures have decreased in complication and made parenthood for countless couples a reality. This has also made the process more accessible to clinics which, in the past, would have encountered difficulty offering surrogacy options.
In the United States, the cost of hiring a surrogate mother in California can run close to $100,000.00. In India and other overseas locations, hiring a surrogate mother costs far less, averaging around $20,000 per pregnancy. The huge cost difference makes doing business with Indian surrogacy clinics very attractive to prospective parents. However, as with anything, you get what you pay for.
Surrogacy in India is legal, but it is entirely unregulated. This lack of regulation and accountability makes surrogacy much more cost-effective, but at the same time, the implications for entering surrogacy agreements in such circumstances are questionable, at best. Indian women entering contracts with surrogacy agencies are often exposed to almost predatory behavior on the part of the clinics. This not only puts the woman at risk, but it also puts the child the woman is carrying at risk, as well.
In many cases, surrogate mothers in India are required to live at the clinic during the course of the pregnancy. This allows the clinic to monitor and control the activities of the surrogate. In some cases, this control is extended to keeping the women from having contact with their families. And in many cases, Indian surrogates come from small villages and are poor and illiterate. They are often unable to read documents that they are coerced into signing, which robs them of many protections that surrogate mothers in California would take for granted. In one case, an Indian surrogate began hemorrhaging at the surrogacy clinic during childbirth and died en route to the hospital. The surrogacy clinic refused to accept responsibility for her death.
In addition to the moral concerns surrounding how surrogacy is conducted overseas, there are also legal concerns. In some surrogacy cases, the baby born in India to an Indian surrogate was considered stateless, meaning that neither India nor the country the clients were from would claim the child as a citizen. The process becomes very complicated because many countries have strongly differing definitions of parenthood and different criteria for citizenship.
It is clear that as the global market for surrogacy increases, global standards for citizenship and surrogacy need to be developed. Until this happens, it seems unwise to seek surrogacy in another country, regardless of the surrogate mother cost. In many cases, the bad far outweighs the good when entering overseas surrogacy arrangements.