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.