Surrogacy Goes Global With Concierge-Like Ordering Service

Filed under: In The News, Infertility

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Where in the world would you like your surrogate to be from? An online service lets you pick and choose. Credit: Getty


Remember when nesting for baby meant selecting the nursery decor, layette and cutesy crib mobile, and meticulously following the directions for assembling the stroller?

Well, now wannabe parents are assembling the actual baby through a smorgasbord of global surrogacy options that read like a restaurant menu: Surrogate mom from Bulgaria. European egg donor. Italian sperm donor. Assembly takes place in Los Angeles. Packages start at $32,000. Say what?

Turns out, as more infertile and gay couples and single women turn to surrogate mothers and egg and sperm donors to make a baby, a new international industry is emerging to produce kids on the cheap and outside of restrictive laws, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The newspaper tells the story of birth mother Katia Antonova, a surrogate who immigrated to Greece from Bulgaria, who is a waitress with a husband and three children of her own. She will use the money from her surrogacy to send at least one of her own children to college.

The baby's parents-to-be -- an infertile Italian woman and her husband (who provided the sperm) -- will take custody of the child this summer, on the day of birth, the newspaper reports.

The wizard behind the curtain orchestrating all this is Rudy Rupak, chief executive of PlanetHospital, a California company that calls itself a "the leading pioneer in medical tourism," meaning, it searches the globe to find doctors who will perform medical procedures ranging from breast augmentations to sex changes to surrogacy, according to the company's website. The site adds that the service helps individuals, corporations and insurers save time and money on the cost of health care through its vast network of "high caliber overseas surgeons and hospitals."

The costs for surrogacy start at $32,000 and range to around $68,000, versus up to $200,000 for a U.S. surrogate, PlanetHospital's site reports.

A sample birthing package from the PlanetHospital: "Four Transfer Attempts and Indian Donor Egg: $35,600."

Rupak is a pioneer in a controversial field at the crossroads of reproductive technology and international adoption, the Journal reports. Prospective parents put off by the rigor of traditional adoptions are bypassing that system by producing babies of their own, often using an egg donor from one country, a sperm donor from another and a surrogate who will deliver in a third country to make what some industry participants call "a world baby," the newspaper says.

"We take care of all aspects of the process, like a concierge service," Rupak, a 41-year-old Canadian, tells the newspaper.

Clients tend to be people who want children, but can't do it themselves, including families suffering from infertility and gay male couples. They may also have trouble adopting because of age or other obstacles, Rupak tells the Journal.

Overseas surrogacy has other advantages, the Journal reports. Surrogates in some poorer countries have little or no legal right to the baby. In Greece, a surrogate can be prosecuted for trying to keep a child. By contrast, some U.S. surrogates have tried to legally claim the children they've carried.

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