So…what’s the deal with gestational surrogacy?
Unlike in other parts of the world, surrogacy in Canada is entirely altruistic–meaning that a surrogate can only carry a pregnancy unselfishly, and not for any sort of compensation. The laws that govern surrogacy in Canada stem from the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, 2004 or the AHRA. The law states quite clearly that any compensation of a surrogate could result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Reimbursement of our surrogate’s costs (as outlined Health Canada’s guidance document) is considered acceptable.
In addition to altruism, the federal government stipulates that a surrogate must be over 21 years old and an egg donor must be over 18. Many clinics and agencies will also have their own rules about who can be a surrogate (age, BMI, health conditions, etc.) We are looking for someone who is in their mid-to-late 30s, very healthy, has had successful pregnancies in the past, has built a wonderful family and support system, and loves being pregnant! Our preference is someone who has never been a surrogate before, and doesn’t live too far, so that we can participate in the journey as much as possible.
Unfortunately, your embryo does not magically appear in your surrogate. Surrogacy demands IVF (in-vitro fertilization) where eggs are retrieved from a woman’s ovaries and sperm is provided by a man. The egg is fertilized by the sperm outside of a woman’s uterus and then inserted into the surrogate via a small catheter. We will obviously delve into this in more detail as we go through the process ourselves but for now we will say this: IVF involves lots of medication, needles, ultrasounds, and visits to the doctor by both you and your surrogate.
Lastly, it is important to note that legal parentage is dependant on provincial laws. We’ve been advised that the best places in Canada to have a child born via surrogacy are Ontario or British Columbia. In these provinces, a birth registration is a relatively simple process. Other provinces have different processes and we recommend speaking to a lawyer before deciding on a particular surrogate.
To summarize, surrogacy in Canada is not a walk in the park. It has legal (both federal and provincial), medical, and significant financial implications. We know the journey we are in for will not be an easy one, but it is one that we are proud to share with you. We know how much a blog like this would have helped us in our journey, so we hope we can pass this knowledge on to you.