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Grayson – What Happened Here?

While I was asked by several people to comment on this case, I have been reticent to do so. This was a case of a couple working with an agency that does not assist with the exit process or ensure a birth certificate is provided before their agency agreement is considered completed. Granted, this is a cheaper journey initially, but it can turn costly with additional travel and legal expenses.

In this case, the couple had a delivery of a healthy baby boy through Mexican surrogacy. From the information I have received from various parties, they worked with a clinic directly with a facilitator out of Canada. The clinic did a great job and based on the contract and obligations of the facilitator, he fulfilled his obligations.

Unfortunately, in Mexico, things are not fixed. It is a very hard journey for individuals with no experience in surrogacy (especially in Mexico) to navigate the various changes and requirements to achieve the birth certificate and the subsequent passport.

During the time Grayson and his parents were attempting to get their birth certificate, there was a player in the Civil Registry who was attempting to block birth certificates. This is clearly a human rights violation. Every person born has a right for that record to be created and issued. Unfortunately, as Grayson’s parents were working with an agency without feet on the ground in Villahermosa, this became a large challenge to navigate.

Here are the facts:
• There were three weeks between the birth and the issuance of the birth certificate.
• The couple was able to get their passport within days of the birth certificate being issued (by the US embassy in Mexico City).
• The US embassy quotes an average of four weeks from the time of arrival in Mexico City with all documents for return home. This has been reduced from the previous quote of 3-5 weeks issued early 2015. http://mexico.usembassy.gov/eng/citizen_services/passports-birth-report/surrogacy-art-and-dna-testing.html
• The couple started a “Go Fund Me” page (http://www.gofundme.com/BabyGrayson2015) asking for $7,500 (of that $3,951 was raised) for “unexpected legal and travel expenses”.
• The couple hired the attorney most other agencies use as part of their general pricing structure. In the case of this couple, a lower “package” was more attractive though legal expenses were not taken into account.
• The couple spoke with several news outlets and the story of their “stranding” and at least one of those outlets published the story a day after the issue had been resolved. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/08/americas/mexico-us-couple-surrogacy-snafu/
While I realize this was a very dramatic story at the time and very scary for those either on their journey or the couple themselves, the media attention and desire to create panic and cast doubt on the Mexico surrogacy journey was unfortunate.

Villahermosa, Tabasco remains one of the only places with structured surrogacy. It is always a set back to the future of surrogacy regardless of the country when there are negative stories. While it is important to share information, it is also important to keep perspective and share the regular, more common positive processes. I understand why this couple was feeling lost and panicked. I wish we as an industry would eliminate the option to exclude legal assistance for the exit process. It may bring more clients in with the lower costs but in the end, it is more time intensive and costly.

As a closing thought, don’t start a process without looking up basic information about estimated time frames. Raising money for “unexpected” travel costs when every government publication was saying 3-5 weeks (now four) because you are “stuck” for 3 weeks and a few days seems disingenuous.

Changes in Mexico – One Couple’s Journey

We have recently had a couple come home from Villahermosa after the delivery of their healthy baby girl. This is a couple I have been working with for many years as their needs changed from a donor only to a donor and a surrogate. They considered US but found MX to be a much more cost-effective option.

This San Francisco couple came to pick up their baby right after Villahermosa changed the requirements a bit for the issuance of the birth certificate. They prepared fully for their journey with all documents required to successfully exit Mexico (based on the knowledge of the time). They felt confident when they arrived that it would be a very smooth and simple process as it had been in the past.

Upon arrival at the hospital and meeting with our attorney, they started to learn that due to recent changes, they were woefully unprepared for the smooth, seamless transaction they had prepared for and expected. Many of the documents they needed to locate required translation and multiple apostilles (http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english/legal-considerations/judicial/authentication-of-documents/notarial-and-authentication-apostille.html). Due to increased regulations in Tabasco, more documentation was required to ensure an ethical process. This was unexpected but welcome by the surrogacy community as it ensures Tabasco remains a viable option for couples seeking affordable surrogacy.

Thankfully, our couple had a very supportive family who worked hard to ensure all documents needed from the US were obtainable and sent via overnight post. This required driving twice several hours and waiting at offices as well as doing research. On our end, we were able to quickly provide documents needed regarding the surrogacy process in Mexico. We are grateful to both the family of this couple and our partners in Mexico to move expeditiously to ensure the fastest submission of the newly required documents.

Though this was very stressful and unexpected for this couple, they handled it with amazing grace and patience.

We are happy to report that even with the unexpected complications arising from the recent changes in Tabasco, they had only 32 days in Mexico before getting passports and exiting the country.

Based on her process, I asked her to share an updated list of what couples should bring to Mexico or know ahead of time to help ensure a smooth transition home. I have her list below:

  1. Tip: download WhatsApp. Everyone seems to use this
  2. Tip: If you decide to stay at a hotel, choose one close to downtown as you will be communicating with the attorney quite a bit. We stayed at the Marriott which is very nice because it is connected to a Mall and right across the street is a supermarket. We used the photo store at mall for passport photo. (for the 2×2 picture, you need to request the Visa Photo)
  3. Items you need to have for Birth Certificate
    1. birth certificates apostilled by state department
    2. if married, marriage License apostilled by state department (if you want both names of birth certificate
    3. if you sent embryos from US to Mexico, copy of Import License
    4. a letter from fertility doctor on why you were not able to get pregnant and carry yourself (if female)

Extra Cost: Exam by doctor and vaccinations which are needed for travel. (1600 pesos)

It is important for everyone considering Mexico for surrogacy to understand it is a fairly new market. They are attempting to ensure they are as ethical and sustainable as possible. With this, they are likely going to continue to revise the required items throughout the next 1-3 years. It is very possible you will arrive (as this couple did) feeling very prepared only to discover there are additional, unexpected requirements. Prepare for the unexpected and if you are stress-adverse, Mexico may not be for you. It is stable (or appears to be to the best of any knowledgeable opinion) as it has a legal framework but that doesn’t mean things will not refine further than they are now. In the US, they redefine requirements for contracts every couple of years in an effort to make surrogacy more sustainable and ethical. An adjustment in requirements is a sign of an effort to make the current law more long term and palatable to adversaries. Mexico would not be revising document requirements if the effort was to simply close as many US alternatives have.

Shared Responsibility Program

While we don’t feel “Baby Guarantee” is ethical or appropriate as there is no way to truly guarantee success, we do offer a Shared Responsibility Guarantee.

We charge our agency fee only once and will work on your behalf until you achieve the desired outcome. If you are not successful on your first transfer, the cost of additional transfers are quite low and with our success rates, most couples are successful on their first or second transfer.
You are responsible for the actual costs relating to your journey but there are no mark-ups and as we only ever receive the one agency fee as compensation for our work; we are greatly motivated to keep your journey as short and successful as possible.

You will never receive a request for more money for our work unless you choose to have another surrogacy journey with us after you have already gone home with your first baby or babies.

Learn about our Giving Back Program

At Surrogacy Beyond Borders, it is important that all parties of this process from the Intended Parents, to the Donors, to the Vendors and our Surrogates are all being treated fairly and ethically.

A surrogacy arraignment, while designed to benefit mainly the Intended Parents, should also be positively life changing for the Surrogate giving life to the couple. With this in mind, our housing and the benefits offered our Surrogates ensure their journey with you is impactful in the most positive way possible.

All of our surrogates are unmarried single mothers to ensure we are not splitting up families. Each surrogate is invited and encouraged to bring their small children with them into housing to ensure the children are not missing their mothers during this journey. Each house has plenty of healthful food readily available, is located in a very safe and secured neighborhood, and is within five minutes from the hospital and clinic.

Additionally, surrogates are invited to participate in our weekly English lessons and we have a therapist visit the house weekly for sessions with each of the women to ensure they are dealing with any feelings they may be having.

Children are all enrolled in school and we ensure their health expenses are covered in case of illness. The children in the home are offered the same care and attention as the surrogates to ensure their lives are made better by this process.

Many of our staff come from surrogates in our program who decide they are interested in participating more with the company. We find this is a great way to bring in experienced staff who know the ropes and also provide a career after surrogacy. If they do not join our team when they are done with their journey, we provide assistance with job placement.

Most of our surrogates have plans to return to college after their surrogacy journey with the fee they receive. If you would like to see comments and thoughts from some of our current surrogates, please view our blog. We have had some of their letters translated and posted to help Intended Parents understand our Surrogates.

Voices of Surrogates in Cancun Mexico – Surrogacy Beyond Borders

We have asked some of the surrogates in our home to write letters about how they are feeling and why they chose to become surrogates. I always find it interesting why someone would decide to agree to being a surrogate and carrying a child for another family. Some of the women chose to write letters to the couples they are working with as they feel connected to them.

Each woman remitted their comments in writing in Spanish which we had translated before posting here. If anyone is interested in seeing the actual letters (in case there are some nuances lost with the translation) please let me know.

Smiling young business woman working with laptop

Surrogate Katherin:

First of all, it is an honor for me to be a surrogate mother. At the beginning, I thought about it a lot and, after thinking about it well, now I know I want to share this joy with the families. To a person or a couple having a baby is the most wonderful thing. To see him/her smile all the time, listen to his/her first words, I cannot express with words how beautiful it is to have a baby. And I can guarantee you chose the right person to be your surrogate mother. I am going to look after myself as much as I can and eat healthy so that your baby can be strong and healthy.
In the house we live they give us a welcoming household, they provide us with what me and my children need. Thank God they let me keep them. As it is because of them that I am happy, and being happy myself, your baby will also be happy.
I decided to be a surrogate mother because I like the idea of you guys feeling this joy that, for one reason or another, you could not feel yet. And because I have two beautiful children, who I have to raise myself. I would like to thank you for choosing me, and I hope this process we are starting will reach its final goal: to see a healthy and strong baby in your arms.

~Katherin

Surrogate Marlin:

First of all I would like to say hello and congratulate you on your baby girl. I have to begin by saying thank you for the opportunity you are giving me to be part of your dream of becoming parents, for being able to share your happiness with me and for choosing me as the person in charge of giving you this great joy. Joy that, I can guarantee, is the greatest feeling on earth. So, thank you for sharing this with me.

On the other side, I would like to say I feel very happy in the agency house, as they are treating me very well. They are doing all that is in their power to look after me: the medical service is adequate, efficient and kind when needed. I think I would not be as happy if it wasn’t for my two little ones being close to me. The fact that they are happy makes me feel relaxed and happy too. Which makes your baby happy too, so that she can grow in a relaxed environment. I can guarantee I am living a very relaxed period here thanks to all the care they provide.

I would like you to share these feelings with me, so that it becomes part of your wonderful parenting experience too. If this was not the case though, I would like to say that having a life inside me is a wonderful and fascinating feeling, which, thanks to your generosity, I have the chance to feel again, and the greatest thing of all this is that, once this comes to an end, I will be able to share this joy with you guys too.
I am already doing all is in my power to look after myself and your little one, so that she will grow and develop in a relaxed environment, healthy and strong.

I would like to say the decision of being a surrogate mother was tough at the time, making that decision was a lot of effort. However, after thinking about it a lot and analysing my own way of thinking, as well as the latinos way of thinking regarding maternity and children, I abandoned all bias and saw the reason why I would make such a decision. Actually, after experiencing myself the joy of being a mother with my two little angels, who can be little devils sometimes, and, after speaking with the agency representatives, I felt like I could share the happiness of being able to give to someone else this opportunity, challenge, responsibility, sadness sometimes, doubt sometimes, tears and most of all, I could be proud of leaving a sign in this life.

I think that, when you are looking for something with passion and you really desire it, that is priceless and there is nothing that generates more pride and satisfaction than reaching your own goals, and fighting to reach them. And when the goal is to make sure the union of two human beings becomes true in a new little human being, who is going to be part of you and the person you love, eventually this big effort becomes priceless. I am sure that, year after year, seeing that creature growing up and realizing that every thing she touches and sees will be something new and wonderful, and seeing those pure eyes which no one else has, and, which have not seen evil, rage or selfishness, you will realize those eyes are so pure that only you guys will understand. Because you will see yourselves in those pure and wonderful eyes, and they will be the most wonderful thing you will ever see.

When eventually I decided to be a surrogate mother, I thought it would be difficult, but the thought that a couple that I do not know puts me in charge of taking care of its dreams makes me feel proud of the decision I made.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity of being your surrogate mother and I feel very happy to feel these moments for you, and, one day, with you. Thank you for allowing me to keep my two little ones close to me and for the opportunity you gave me in this Caribbean paradise, full of beaches and flavoursome aromas, such as fresh air and the smell of the sea. I know that your baby is enjoying the same as me and can smell the same that I smell, so I guess she is happy.

I feel happy because I was able to forget about selfishness and bias, as eventually your happiness will be my greatest reward.

Yours Sincerely,
Marlen

Surrogate Aurora:

Hi,

The fact that I decided to be pregnant of a child who is not mine does not mean that, throughout pregnancy, I may develop feelings for the baby. The reason why I do this is that I would like to feel a little creature grow in my belly, and, also I know that once he/she is born, the baby will be in a family who is excited to welcome this life, a human being they will share wonderful moments with, and who will fill their own hearts with love, like it happened to me. I also have a child, and this is one of the reasons why I am working on this “life” project. He is living in the house with me, the other mothers and children. He is feeling comfortable in participating in this project and this is important to me. Because I needed to share more moments with him, and for my future and for the one of my own child, I am hoping this life project will be completed soon. To reach the goals I have in mind as a human being in general, and being the person I am.

I feel good in the house, I get on with the other people in the house. The tasks we are given, I do them with enthusiasm. This is the way I think people should live, with no stress and enjoying this project, which will make the parents of the baby or babies very happy.

Well, this is part of what I am doing in this project. Thank you for your attention.

Surrogate Claudia:

Hi!

My name is Claudia. I am 29 years old and I am a mother of two, a boy aged 15 and a girl aged 8. I am a single mother and my experience as a mother, I can say it is unique. As I know well how a new creature changes everything in your life, he/she changes your way of thinking, of acting, up to changing your own life. Because not only it will be you, but also another person, who is going to depend a lot on you. Having a baby fills your life in many ways. It fills you with love, with patience, with an immense joy that does not fit in your chest (meaning “heart”). And you never stop learning. They fill you with love, they bring joy to your day, and when you feel you can’t take it anymore, because you had a tough day, they always do something to turn that tough day into joy. For this reason, and many more reasons, which will take me too long to write, I decided to be a surrogate mum. To help people become parents, for them to enjoy a little happiness, to make their dreams come true. It is a truthful and lovable act for me to be able to help you guys. And I am aware this requires a lot of care, which I will make sure I take, for your baby to be born as healthy as possible. Whilst he/she is with me, I will take care of him/her. So that when you will be holding him/her in your own arms, your baby will be filled with love, and this way he/she will come to your arms. I know this baby will fill you in a thousand different ways, and I would like to be part of this, by helping you to become parents. For you to be able to hear one day that your children will be born.

Your Sincerely,
Claudia