There are many ways to start a family, and they are all beautiful and demanding at the same time. We're going to break down one of the more testing ways to have a child: surrogacy.
Even though it comes with added complications, surrogacy is an amazing way for couples who cannot conceive or carry a pregnancy on their own to have a child.
Let's go over surrogacy in Canada and everything that hopeful parents and a surrogate mother in Canada need to know.
What Is a Surrogate Mother in Canada?
A surrogate mother is a woman who carries a baby for a couple or individual who cannot conceive naturally on their own. Here are a few reasons someone may choose to use a surrogate mother:
- Fertility problems
- Advanced age
- A same-sex relationship that wants to start a family
- The mother cannot stay in her career if she gets pregnant
- Other health risks
In Canada, there are several restrictions on surrogacy. It is illegal to pay for a surrogate, human sperm, and eggs. Instead, only altruistic surrogacy is legalized. The only payment that a surrogate mother can receive in Canada is reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses.
This limits the work of agencies that match surrogate mothers with future parents. Unlike surrogacy services in other countries, agencies in Canada cannot charge for facilitating the match, payment, or overseeing the pregnancy.
However, there are still some surrogacy consultancies in Canada that help match surrogate mothers and future parents. They also connect them with lawyers to navigate the legal contract. However, these consultancies have to be extremely careful with the surrogacy laws otherwise they wind up facing intervention by the federal government which almost always results in business closures.
The time it takes to find a surrogate in Canada can vary from a few months to a year or longer. There is a surrogate shortage, so future parents should plan ahead. To match with a surrogate mother, future parents should hire a skilled lawyer who has experience with surrogacy laws.
Why Is Surrogacy Controversial?
Surrogacy can be an amazing gift, but there is also a lot of controversy around it. People who oppose surrogacy argue that it commodifies babies and female bodies, exploits women, and comes with dangerous health risks. Some religions also believe it is ethically wrong to use a surrogate.
In under-developed countries where they are not many regulations on surrogacy, there are horror stories about both the surrogate mother and hopeful parent's experience. However, in countries like Canada and the US where it is highly regulated, it's easier to ensure that the surrogacy process is ethical.
How Much Does a Surrogate Mother Cost?
Surrogacy in Canada can range from $25,000-$100,000. Depending on your situation, you may be able to take out a personal loan to pay for surrogacy expenses.
While compensating a surrogate is not legal in Canada, it is expected that the future parents pay the surrogate mother's expenses relating to the pregnancy. This makes the actual cost of surrogacy in Canada hard to determine since every pregnancy is different.
However, in general, surrogacy is more expensive than adoption and IVF. Fortunately, some surrogacy expenses are tax-deductible. Let's break down the costs related to surrogacy in Canada.
Keep in mind that it is illegal to pay an agency to match you with a surrogate in Canada. However, some consultants carefully maneuver around laws to offer this service, and they charge anywhere from $5,000-$20,000.
Attorney fees vary depending on the level of experience and expertise in surrogacy. Since surrogacy is a delicate relationship with many moving parts, it's worth it to pay more for a lawyer who knows how to navigate the entire process. Future parents should expect to spend between $10,000-$20,000 on legal fees.
Reimbursements to the Surrogate
This expense is also a moving target. Some pregnancies come with complications that require bed rest and more frequent check-ups, which will incur more expenses. Sometimes in-vitro fertilization does not work the first time, so each extra round also adds to the final total.
On average, future parents should expect to spend $30,000 on reimbursements; however, extra IVF treatments add around $3000-$5000 each.
Medical and Psychological Screening
Before matching with a family, potential surrogates go through extensive evaluations to make sure they're fit for the role. Sometimes there is also therapy involved. The whole process typically costs up to $1000.
Fertility Clinic and Embryo Transfer Costs
Surrogacy takes place either through in-vitro fertilization or artificial insemination. The average cost of the fertility clinic and all procedures is around $25,000.
How Much Does a Surrogate Mother Make?
Again, in Canada, surrogate mothers are not compensated since only altruistic surrogacy is legal. However, they typically get reimbursed around $2500 a month for all pregnancy-related expenses.
Pre-pregnancy expenses include:
To be reimbursed for everything, the surrogate mother must keep all receipts to track the expenses.
Expenses during pregnancy include everything listed above as well as things like maternity clothes, wellness treatments like acupuncture, vitamins, groceries, and pregnancy supplies. Experienced surrogates will also charge for more things during pregnancy, such as organic food, than first-time surrogates.
Reimbursement does not end when the baby is born. Post-partum recovery time is also covered by the hopeful parents. This can include medical treatments, lost wages, vitamins and supplements, hygiene supplies, and more.
What Are the Different Types of Surrogacy?
There are two different types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. Let's break down both options.
With traditional surrogacy, the surrogate mother donates her own egg, making her the biological mother of the child. The egg is fertilized with the father's sperm via artificial insemination. Since the surrogate is biologically connected to the child, there can be more legal complications with traditional surrogacy.
This option is typically used when the mother does not have fertile eggs or when a same-sex male couple needs an egg donor.
This is currently the more popular surrogacy option because both the sperm and egg come from the parents or are donated from someone other than the surrogate. The surrogate mother's role is only carrying the pregnancy.
This option is used when the mother has healthy eggs but for various reasons cannot carry a pregnancy. It may also be used for same-sex male or female couples who need an egg or sperm donor.
Do I Need to Have Certain Requirements to Hire a Surrogate Mother?
You cannot choose to use a surrogate just because. You must be able to prove that a surrogate is needed. The following examples are some reasons someone may choose to use a surrogate:
- Some women are born without a uterus or had it removed
- Some women do not have fertile eggs
- All other fertility treatments, such as IVF, have failed
- Health risks, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which make pregnancy unsafe
- Single adults who want a child without a partner
- Males who may have fertility problems
- Same-sex couples who want biological children
In Canada, the only things that disqualify you from seeking an altruistic surrogacy are reasons relating to convenience and fear of pregnancy.
Are There Any Legalities Surrounding Surrogacy That I Need to Know About?
It's incredibly important that you hire a lawyer to help you navigate surrogacy. You should not begin the fertility procedures with a surrogate mother until a legal agreement is made with both parties. Here are things to consider:
- Parental rights
- Pre-Natal obligations
- Reimbursement of expenses
In Canada, the surrogate mother does have legal rights over the baby when it is born that then get transferred to the intended parents. This means that she can technically change her mind and try to keep the baby. However, the intended parents can sue for custody and more than likely win because of the signed legal contract.
However, there is no legal precedent for this in Canada since a surrogate mother has not tried to claim the baby before. In countries where there are plenty of surrogacy regulations, this is an extremely rare occurrence since surrogate mothers undergo extensive psychological evaluation beforehand.
What If I Change My Mind While My Surrogate Is Pregnant?
The intended parents can technically change their minds as well. It is unlikely that they will get any money back, but they can stop covering the expenses. If they abandon a surrogate mother at any point during the pregnancy, she maintains parental rights.
Unfortunately, these cases usually end up with the child being put up for adoption.
What If I Want to Become a Surrogate Mother?
To become a surrogate mother, you can apply with consultancies like Surrogacy in Canada.
Whether or not a surrogate gets maternity leave depends on her employer, but for the most part, surrogate mothers can get maternity leave.
Do surrogates get to choose their parents? Sometimes a surrogate chooses to carry a baby for friends or family members, and other times they are matched with people they don't know. A surrogate is never forced into a match that they don't want.
Screening Requirements for Surrogates
Some of the typical requirements to become a surrogate mother include:
- Being between ages 21-49
- No criminal history
- Pass health exams and be in great physical, mental, and emotional health
- Must have at least one previous birth
- No history of pregnancy complications
- Must have a permanent residence
To become a surrogate in Canada, you must also be a Canadian resident and agree not to leave the country after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
What Are Some of the Best Resources for Finding a Surrogate Mother in Canada?
Here are some resources you can check out to find a surrogate in Canada:
These resources will help connect you to potential surrogates to carry your future child.
Surrogacy in Canada
Whether you're a hopeful parent or wish to become a surrogate mother in Canada, we hope that this article has provided you with the most comprehensive understanding of the processes, responsibilities and legalities surrounding the topic. It is an amazing way to bring a child into the world and create a family.
Do you want to know more about the cost of raising a child in Canada? Insurdinary can help. Be sure to check out our article, and determine if it's the right step for you.