Surrogacy in Canada is desirable because it’s altruistic. Or is it? We all know that regardless of the regulations in Canada, many surrogates are getting compensated. It’s a reality that nobody really cares about archaic laws that don’t represent the women actually offering their bodies for others. My thoughts on compensation are pretty clear. I’ve been open from the beginning that I believe all women who offer to be a surrogate should be compensated accordingly. But this blog isn’t about my opinions on our current federal government’s shortcomings. What I really want to flip the script on today, is why international couples come to Canada and why I still accept them into our programs, while infertility in Canada continues to rise at an alarming rate.
Imagine for a moment you live in a country that has decided for their citizens who is allowed to conceive through surrogacy and who isn’t. Imagine it’s completely banned all together. Why? Because some governments still believe they should have control over a women’s right to choose what to do with their body. It is still frowned upon in many countries for gay couples to get married and or have children of their own. So, as we enter 2023, we see some things never change to meet the evolving times. We believe that people in countries where surrogacy is illegal, should have the opportunity to come to Canada and try to grow their family. Surrogacy is not taboo anymore. It can be done in a safe environment, and it can be commercialized in a way that allows for all parties to benefit. But for now, we have to depend on the kindness of women. Canada is a desirable place to attempt surrogacy because the current regulations mean couples can feel safe because we are the peace-loving country where dreams come true. Or at least I can only assume that’s what outsiders think of Canada. But in Canada it is desirable for Intended Parents to come to Canada to find a complete stranger to carry their baby, not just because they can have a close relationship with her, but for many other reasons people continue to debate. One reason – free health care. In Canada, women have coverage for anything related to a pregnancy – regardless of who’s baby she is carrying. Once a baby is born, international couples assume care and costs, but for the most part that is minimal if baby is full term and only stays in hospital for the normal 24-48 hours. In the USA, the main difference is that health care is privately paid through the agencies. Many voices in Canada believe that Intended Parents do not have the right to come to Canada and burden our health care system, but the debate isn’t about their rights. Our healthcare system is designed in such a way that any woman needing pregnancy care gets it without question. Health care professionals do not have a right to ask how the pregnancy came to be.
Reason two – less expensive than our US neighbours. Costs are a huge reason for coming to Canada for surrogacy as opposed to some USA states. It has to be – because in the USA you can find a surrogate as soon as 3 months vs. our very long wait, and no guarantee in Canada. Why would you come to Canada and start the process of making embryos without a baby being a promised reality? Probably because it’s just too expensive in the USA. In other countries like Ukraine or Columbia, surrogacy is more cost-effective, but the downside is that couples worry about the social and political unrest that could erupt. These countries feel less safe for surrogacy. In the case of the Ukraine, this concern was tested and proven. Many couples struggled to get their new babies out of the Ukraine as war broke out in 2022. It was an extremely tense situation.
So, is the altruism as important to international Intended Parents (IPs) as Canadians believe? Initially I think it is, but after waiting and realizing their dream may not come to fruition in Canada, I believe many Intended Parents will jump at the opportunity to go somewhere else if they can be guaranteed a surrogate. I’ve seen many of our IPs grow frustrated with our regulated system that relies on the kind nature of women to volunteer their bodies. It leaves us with little, to no control over the number of women who commit to surrogacy. This is the hard reality of surrogacy in Canada.
But yet, I truly believe that the factors I’ve mentioned above will continue to bring Intended Parents in from other countries. I will continue to help a select bunch who I feel are good candidates to find someone to help them here. But as the need for surrogates in Canada grows rapidly, I don’t know if Canada can sustain our international need indefinitely. Times are tough for the average household and women aren’t volunteering to help at the same rate they used to. I’m sure the reasons are plentiful, but the demand for surrogates has become unprecedentedly high in a time when women are putting their own families first.
While it’s enticing for international couples to find a surrogate in a country that doesn’t legalize payment for such, they may find themselves waiting years to potentially speak with someone, with no guarantees she will choose them. So, it begs the question… will international couples continue to see Canada as an option in the future?