With my work with Surrogacy Beyond Borders, this is my wheelhouse. I personally prefer surrogacy in Mexico for a variety of reasons but it does not mean it is devoid of issues. There are logistical, legal and experience issues Mexico faces as it gains popularity as a surrogacy destination.

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Mexico – Commercialized surrogacy has been active for about two years in Mexico. There are two areas where surrogacy is legal. At present, the only state where surrogacy is defined and legal is the state of Tabasco (http://mexico.usembassy.gov/eng/citizen_services/passports-birth-report/surrogacy-art-and-dna-testing.html). This does not prohibit embryo transfers in other states but it does require babies born via surrogacy to be born in Tabasco. There is a well defined law which creates a strong legal framework making the Intended Parents the legal guardian and parent of any child born through surrogacy. Mexico City is currently considering a law allowing for commercialized surrogacy as well. This law has been approved by the government but is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Positives of Mexico
  • There is a well defined legal framework. In Tabasco, the law is very clear in it’s allowing of Intended Parents to be the legal parents of any child born through surrogacy. This has been the case since 1997 when a government official created the law in an effort to have a child himself. Though commercialized surrogacy has not been common until about two years ago, the courts are accustomed to this process as Mexicans have been utilizing theses services since 1997. 
  • There are no restrictions on LGBT Intended Parents. In Tabasco, there is no exclusion on single or LGBT parents. When the baby is born, the name of the genetic link appears on the birth certificate. There is no need to have the surrogates name appear (unless required by the Intended Parent’s government like in the case of the Netherlands or Sweden). In the case of two men, the semen provider’s name will appear on the birth certificate and the mother’s name will be left blank. If the couple lives in an area allowing for gay marriage, they can perform a step-parent or second parent adoption and both appear on the birth certificate. 
  • Medical care is pretty advanced in Mexico. Though Mexico is still considered a third world country (http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/third_world_countries.htm), there is great access to wonderful health care. So long as your surrogacy is occurring in a major city, your surrogate and the baby should have access to medical care similar or better than that in the States. This doesn’t mean every hospital in Mexico is as good or better than the states but does mean that a surrogacy in the US could end up a rural or smaller and less equipped hospital in the states while most agencies in Mexico use only big and advanced hospitals. On a personal level, I broke my tibial plateau in two places while visiting our housing in Cancun and ended up in the hospital we use for surrogate care. I was shocked at the advanced level of care I received and though I wasn’t thrilled to have a broken leg, I am happy I went through it so I could feel confident about the care provided in Cancun. 
  • If privacy is what you want, privacy is what you will get. Due to confidentiality and the method of legal agreements, your journey will remain your own. You do not have to face the possibility of seeing your journey broadcast on Facebook or any other social media. 
  • You can select housing for your surrogate. Some agencies (including Surrogacy Beyond Borders) offer surrogate housing. This can be very important as access to healthful food, prenatal vitamins, health care, transportation or a safe environment can be a challenge in Mexico. In the US, housing isn’t practical due to expenses and different culture. Knowing where your surrogate is and that she is living with staff who work for you can help with anxiety throughout the process. 
  • Transparency is possible in Mexico. Where some other international options are less than transparent, Mexico seems to be a location where you can expect similar visibility to the US. Doctors will generally be open with you and share reports quickly. You can visit the surrogates, speak with them openly, share contact details should you wish and some agencies offer escrow management for your money during the process. 
  • Proximity is better for US Intended Parents – For couples in the US, international surrogacy has been a world away. Going out of the US has meant flying 20+ hours each way to visit a clinic, your surrogate or pick up your baby. With Mexico, it is just a short flight with less expense. 
  • Insurance may be offered – Insurance for complications with your surrogate is available in Mexico. Check with your agency if it is offered with their program. This can ensure your costs stay low and that your surrogate will have access to great care throughout her pregnancy without sticking you with the cost. 
  • The cost of Mexico is much lower than the US. Many agencies quote surrogacy only services around $35,000 (not including Intended Parent travel, passport fees, and embassy fees). Surrogacy Beyond Borders offers fees from $42,000 inclusive of surrogate housing for surrogate only or up to $80,000 for the most expensive service including a US donor, embryo creation in the US, egg splitting (if requested), HIV treatment, and gender selection. The standard Surrogacy Beyond Borders couple using a donor and surrogate can expect to pay around $60,000. Compared to the US cost of 120k – 160k for a surrogate and donor cycle, Mexico can be a much cheaper alternative. Also, costs of travel to Mexico for US couples is much less than travel to India or Nepal. 
Negatives of Mexico
  • Mexico has a present reputation issue. Not only do many people see Mexico as unsafe but it has also been hit with recent scandals and stories of couples losing money with one particular agency. I imagine Mexico will get past this at some point but it does cast an ugly shadow.
  • People are rushing in with little or no experience. Due to proximity and relative ease, many new players are coming into Mexico to jump on what looks to be a big influx of business. Unfortunately, new an inexperienced companies run the risk of making mistakes which can make more negative waves. 
  • In Tabasco, only altruistic surrogacy is technically legal. The law in Tabasco relates to altruistic surrogacy which means the companies (including Surrogacy Beyond Borders) offering commercial surrogacy must utilize payment structure to surrogates to ensure the couple themselves are not paying the surrogate for her services. There are a few ways to do this but it does run the risk that loop holes allowing for the commercialization of surrogacy could close. It is important that any agency you choose has a reasonable and sound way of dealing with this. A surrogacy contract with a surrogate CANNOT mention compensation. If it does, the court will not allow it. 
  • As commercialized surrogacy is relatively new in Mexico, things could change. While we don’t expect a change or tightening of laws in Mexico, it could happen. The good news in Mexico is they seem to be heading toward better equality and more progressive views. While gay marriage became legal in Mexico City in 2009, there has been another state recently added to that list (http://www.ibtimes.com/mexican-state-legislature-becomes-first-approve-gay-marriage-1676064). Additionally, Mexican courts in Villahermosa (the city in Tabasco where most births take place) seem to be taking steps to make surrogacy contracts more easily executed. The upcoming addition of Mexico City for legalization of surrogacy also points to Mexico not changing to the more restrictive. None-the-less, there are no guarantees and it is possible for Mexico to go the way of either India or Thailand. 
  • Language barriers can be frustrating. While in India, most medical professionals speak English, this is not necessarily the case with Mexico. While it is unlikely you will have a Spanish only speaking IVF doctor, the doctor managing the care of your surrogate or delivering your baby could be only Spanish speaking. If you do not speak Spanish, the pick up process while you are in Mexico and the medical aspects might be frustrating. 
  • Exit processing times from Mexico are longer than India or the US and can vary. While I have personally seen the exit process take 3-4 weeks, the embassies are quoting about 5 weeks due to DNA processing times. You will not be able to travel from Tabasco to Mexico City (where most embassies are located) for at least 10 days past birth (more if there are medical issues requiring NICU). Your process with the embassy will not start until you arrive in Mexico City and meet with the embassy. This adds to your time and can mean you will end up in Mexico for 5 weeks (three weeks longer than India’s 2 week estimation). Make sure your agency has a relationship with your embassy and you know WELL in advance what documents you will need. It will help to speed up the process as much as possible. 
  • Selective reduction isn’t possible unless there is a medical reason. Abortions are illegal in most states in Mexico. The primary place to terminate a pregnancy should you find a need (God forbid) would be in Mexico City. A medically necessary pregnancy can be affected up to 20 weeks but an elective pregnancy must be completed by 12 weeks (before you can reasonably know of any medical issues). Reducing the number of fetuses is not allowed unless it is a health threat to the carrier. This means, do not transfer more embryos than you are comfortable with and keep in mind embryos can and sometimes do split. 

mexico

Mexico seems to be a great and exciting new frontier for surrogacy options for Intended Parent(s) of all types all over the world. It will be interesting to watch and help shape how it develops. I have personally chosen to provide surrogacy from both here and the US because they feel the most stable to me without restricting LGBT rights. I founded Surrogacy Beyond Borders in January of 2014 after 7 years of offering surrogacy in the US in an effort to offer affordable surrogacy services for my clients. There are some great agencies out there and there are some well intentioned agencies who might just not have the background for the venture. Make sure when you choose an agency to do your research, speak to past and current clients (not just one, ask for two or more) and make sure your money is being handled in a way you feel is safe.

With my work with Surrogacy Beyond Borders, this is my wheelhouse. I personally prefer surrogacy in Mexico for a variety of reasons but it does not mean it is devoid of issues. There are logistical, legal and experience issues Mexico faces as it gains popularity as a surrogacy destination.