Growing Families initiates International Advisory Board

Growing Families has established an International Advisory Board to assist in providing leadership and minimum standards in the international donor and surrogacy environment

The background here is that cross-border surrogacy & egg donation are increasing, due to lack of affordability in source countries, lack of surrogate availability or lack of laws supporting these arrangements

The Hague Conference on Private International LawParentage/Surrogacy project, first convened in 2015, has made slow progress towards a convention and/or protocol to assure legal parentage for those born viaInternational Surrogacy Arrangements (ISAs). Apart from Growing Families, no organisation is currently providing an independent leadership role. An international HCCH instrument may be a decade away.

Foreign jurisdictions are constantly updating their laws in this area. In the last year alone, Spain, Russia, Thailand, Uganda & Ireland have introduced or proposed radical changes. Meanwhile, vulnerable surrogates and intended parents continue to engage without sufficient oversight of the legal, psychological, medical and human rights implications

Russia’s attacks in Ukraine have put unprecedented pressure not only on surrogacy in Ukraine, but globally, with countries allowing surrogacy struggling to meet demand for surrogates.

Jurisdictions offering well regulated surrogacy are few, leading to Increased engagement in emerging or unregulated destinations; Stretched capacity/long wait times in all destinations; Increased uptake of hybrid programs; An increase in surrogates being recruited across international borders (eg into Greece, Albania, North Cyprus & Georgia). Intended parents and surrogates continue to engage without adequate prior psychological assessment, leading in many cases to avoidable stress

This International Advisory Board meets quarterly and is designed to share knowledge of ‘on-the-ground’ issues; take a leadership role in harm minimisation; advocate with surrogacy providers for minimum standards in surrogate and intended parent psychological screening & care; and better prepare for geo-political, legal and market developments.

Membership countries were selected to ensure that most countries offering surrogacy programs to foreigners have a voice. Board members were invited based on their long experience working with foreign intended parents in their jurisdiction. The board comprises lawyers, IVF specialists, past surrogates and industry experts.

Members include: Leon Altamirano (Mexico) Ms Nino Bogveradze (Georgia); Ms Olga Danchenko (Ukraine), Ms Uliana Dorofeyeva (Slovakia), Sam Everingham (Growing Families) Dr Ashim Kumar (USA); Dr Clifford Librach (Canada); Roy Nir (Israel) Ester Nunez (Argentina); Mark Semple (Colombia); Lisa Stark-Hughes (USA); Maria Vastaroucha (Greece) Rich Vaughn (USA); Cindy Wasser (Canada)