Growing Families Advisory

Warning on the importance of engaging in ethical international surrogacy arrangements

Growing Families supports the European Parliament’s recent resolution amending its directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, including any trafficking which takes place as part of surrogacy arrangements.  Surrogacy can and should be conducted ethically, and Growing Families opposes any form of surrogacy which risks trafficking of women. 

In February 2023, Growing Families set up an International Advisory Board with leading industry experts and legal professionals from around the world, with the aim of making surrogacy and donor IVF safer for all. Our Board developed a set of Ethical Standards for International Surrogacy Arrangements (available here) which include ensuring: 

  • Intended parents do not engage in politically unstable or conflict-affected jurisdictions  
  • Surrogates give fully-informed consent, are appropriately supported and receive excellent medical care 
  • Surrogates are able to live safely and securely (with their families) in the country where the gestation and birth will occur.  
Read Our Board’s Ethical Standards for International Surrogacy Arrangements
Read

In the overwhelming majority of international surrogacy cases, this occurs. International surrogacy arrangements are typically made between parents in one country working with a surrogate in another, based on a supported legal arrangement in which all parties give informed consent. Where conducted ethically, international surrogacy is a responsible process which enables the birth of much-loved children. 

Growing Families warns intended parents considering international surrogacy to avoid multi-jurisdictional surrogacy arrangements in which the surrogate does not normally reside in the country where the surrogacy is taking place

However, Growing Families is concerned about surrogacy providers, particularly some in Europe, which rely on ‘travelling’ surrogates brought in from other countries for fertility treatment and/or taken to a country they do not normally live in to give birth. Such surrogacy arrangements carry a significant risk of exploitation, given surrogates’ freedom of movement is restricted, and surrogates may be unfamiliar with and often do not speak the language of the country where they are having fertility treatment or giving birth.  There is also a risk of significant legal complications for the children born, given the complexities of complying with different systems of law. We are seeing significant problems obtaining birth certificates and passports for the small numbers of children being born as a result of such arrangements.  

Growing Families warns intended parents considering international surrogacy to avoid multi-jurisdictional surrogacy arrangements in which the surrogate does not normally reside in the country where the surrogacy is taking place unless they are absolutely certain of the ethics and legality of the arrangement. They should be aware that such multi-jurisdictional arrangements are not the norm for international surrogacy, and they carry significant risks.  Intended parents should always ensure that they:   

  • understand how their provider recruits and cares for surrogates
  • are confident any proposed surrogate has local support
  • can maintain regular contact directly with their surrogate during pregnancy 
  • can seek specialist advice before engaging in any international arrangement 
  • avoid politically unstable or conflict affected jurisdictions.