By Austin Dease
Surrogacy, Mexico, and simplicity are rarely seen on the same page. If you’ve been paying attention to any new headlines in the surrogacy world as of late, you may have noticed that Mexico is experiencing a number of issues surrounding international surrogacy.
While the country itself is often considered to have a fairly stable economy, as it’s a part of the G20, questions began to arise in 2016 as to whether or not surrogacy tourism was something the country wanted to support.
The saving grace of surrogacy
“Surrogacy [in] Mexico can be difficult to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with how the country’s laws work,” says a spokesperson for ilaya– a prominent name in reproductive medicine that partners with firms for surrogacy in Mexico.
Many solo intended parents have made headlines since 2016 when international surrogacy programs in Mexico’s city of Tabasco suddenly shut down, resulting in delays getting the child back home and thousands of dollars lost to lengthy legal battles.
Amid concerns of corruption and exploitation embedded in the surrogacy programs of other countries like India and Thailand, Tabasco’s government decided to put a pin in the hopes and plans of many.
Much like the United States, Mexican laws vary by state. Each state is allowed to decide how certain legislation will be enforced, distinct to that of federal law. Of these laws unique to the states themselves are laws concerning surrogacy. Because surrogacy is not federally regulated in Mexico, individual states are allowed to put in place their own laws concerning the practice.
And again, much like it’s neighbor to the north, Mexico’s laws regarding surrogacy vary greatly from state to state, as well as undergo dramatic changes from year to year, making it murky waters for anyone who is largely unfamiliar with the country, it’s laws, and even surrogacy itself.
How Mexican surrogacy works
Most of the legal battles and alienating legislation that has made the news of late have been held within the state of Tabasco. Once a hotspot for international tourism- specifically for the LGBT community and single parents, Tabasco abruptly changed laws regarding exactly who would be eligible to secure a surrogacy in their state.
In 2016, the Tabascan government put hard brakes to many parents’ surrogate journeys — some of which were already paid for and well underway — allowing only a nine-month grace period before the enforcement of the new law. This left many in limbo. As any intended parent is aware, most surrogacy arrangements take far longer than just nine months.
Stories of single, gay, and international parents having to sue the local government for birth certificates and passports flooded the newsreels. Surrogate mothers told stories of feeling unsafe and being unnecessarily harassed by officials.
While all of this is true, and surely happened, what many sources forget to say is that surrogacy is still not only legal in Mexico, but it is a thriving industry — owing that you have the right agency to help guide you through the process.
The stigma of infertility
Struggling with a diagnosis of infertility is life-altering and often earth-shattering news for those families that it affects. Coupled with heavy stigma, rooted far too deeply in antiquated belief systems, many intended parents are also faced with the difficulties of securing a surrogacy that they can afford.
Surrogacy programs in the US can cost up to $120,000, making the process exclusionary for many hopeful families. High costs, coupled with poor coverage options from insurance companies, many couples who can’t conceive on their own are forced to look abroad for these reproductive services.
This desperation has caused some very dire issues in other countries that were well known for their surrogacy tourism numbers, leading prospective parents to stray away from the costs associated with legitimate programs and agencies and go underground to find equally desperate women to carry their child.
Citing these countries as standard examples of surrogacy, Tabascan governments chose to cut off all surrogacy programs to anyone who is not part of a married heterosexual couple with Mexican citizenship.
Critics of this new law suggest that this is just a creative way for the Tabascan government to push homophobic and bigoted policy. Luckily, not every state in Mexico shares the Tabascan concerns.
Surrogacy in Mexico
Agencies like ilaya work closely with states in Mexico that still allow international surrogacy and provide protective laws for intended parents. Agencies such as these offer Mexican surrogacy programs coupled with well-versed legal support.
Ilaya’s website states that their program is “a new, guaranteed, surrogacy program for same-sex couples, unmarried couples and single parents…” which seems to be in stark contrast to the idea that the media seems to be pushing.
Working closely with agency partners in Mexico, ilaya hopes to provide better options for hopeful parents of all kinds, and on all budgets. “Having a family should not be exclusively for the rich,” says the company, purporting that their program is aimed at homosexual couples and single parents that are “limited in [their] finances and are not prepared to pay more than $100,000 for [their] surrogacy journey.”
Any agency that offers surrogacy services should also offer legal representation, psychological support services, and comprehensive medical plans for prenatal and birthing care. It’s also suggested that anyone considering gestational surrogacy seek the assistance of a reputable surrogacy agency, as the laws and practices associated with surrogacy can be incredibly confusing, as well as expensive and possibly devastating should you get it wrong. And this is true for surrogacy programs around the world, not just in Mexico.