Crystal Travis runs a consulting service for clients and potential clients of Indian surrogacy clinics and other emerging global surrogacy locations. She is an advocate to ensure journeys move forward in a ethical and legal fashion. We are thrilled to have her share the value and role that a facilitator can play in your fertility journey.
What does a facilitator do?
Facilitators assist intended persons surrogacy journey from the beginning of the process until after the birth of your baby. Facilitators help guide you through the process of what doctor in which country will work best for you. They help to locate an egg donor or a surrogate that fits what you are looking for. Once your baby is born facilitators can work in an expeditious manner to ensure that you exit out of any 3rd world country has been efficient and painless. At this point, you can find fertility tourism facilitators working in all parts of the world – including India, Thailand, South Africa, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Russia, etc.
Why is it important to have one.
It is important to have a facilitator in third world countries because it will bridge the gap between clinics and clients.
When one uses a surrogate in the US, you have a number of people in place who handle the process for you. When one has a surrogate in the US, you know when her scheduled appointments and sonograms will take place. You are hands on because you are not half the world away, where you have no idea what is happening or what they may or may not be eating. When we started the process of surrogacy in India, one could navigate the waters on their own. Now that it is multi-billion dollar business not all of the players in the business are even IVF doctors Many people will look for the least expensive doctor, and often they get taken and end up with no baby. Many come back from india disgruntled about the process then speak negatively about the process.
Also, what I have found is often IP’s have health issues, which they often do not bring up or tell the doctor. We are able to ferret out necessary information that makes the doctor’s job easier in the process so that an IP has success. The general public does not know the underbelly in third world countries. People who are in the business or who are frequent flyer’s to the countries heavily involved in surrogacy generally know what clinics are having success and are working within legal guidelines.
How does it benefit the IP?
It can benefit the IP’s in a number of ways. I had a client who had a baby that was born with Trisomy 18, and the baby died a few days after birth. The doctor then offered the clients another chance at surrogacy at absolutely no cost to them. Sadly, I have had people contact me after they have had similar incidents where the doctor’s did not offer them any recourse. I also work with doctors who do not keep charging clients high fees if they get a negative. I can negotiate very tangible things, which an IP cannot do, because they do not have an established relationship with the doctors.
There are so many different facilitators and companies out there how do you select a good one?
Generally, most of my clients are word of mouth, or from media exposure. A large number of the medical tourism companies especially the ones that are Indian owned are often owned by the doctors. I would stay away from those who provide medical tourism for everything I say this because generally they do not stay up to date on current guidelines and become lax with certain aspects of medical tourism. if someone is facilitating helping someone get a liver or a kidney, their is a lot more money in that than surrogacy. I also find it interesting that some in the business will refer clients to doctor’s and they have never even visited the clinic. Surrogacy in third world countries can be cyclical as we are all finding out in regards to India at this time. The surrogacy community is small so it is easy for IP’s to know who travels back and forth and who is monitoring the surrogacy situation worldwide.
Is a facilitator a huge additional cost?
No, usually what happens is the folks not using a facilitator, generally end up with longer stays in the country where they secured a surrogate because they do not know the intricacies of the process.
What is your experience with surrogacy in India?
We had a good experience, because over the years I have connected with people who ensure that the process will be smooth. When our twins were born December 20th 2008, we were back home before the end of December. Our twins were born healthy with no health issues. Their was nothing more we could ask for.
What is the process between the IP and facilitator – Do they choose the clinic, do you provide options
When someone contacts me regarding surrogacy, we go through a battery of questions. Some people feel strongly about having a clinic close to an airport. Other’s feel strongly about sanitation issues, or educated egg donors. We offer different clients different options.
When India did allow surrogacy for gay and single clients, we had to direct gay and single clients to doctor’s who would be willing to work with them, because not all doctors would entertain gay or single people.
What countries are good to work with when pursuing surrogacy?
The US is good, if one could afford the cost. India is good if you are married for more than 2 years at the moment. Thailand works with anyone wishing to pursue surrogacy as well as Mexico. They all also have drawbacks as well. The bottom line is that they are all affordable options that many would never have.
There are facilitators working in countries where there are no clear laws (Thailand). Is it safe to pursue surrogacy there?
I think Thailand at the moment is safe to pursue surrogacy. There are IP’s in the USA who have brought back babies from Thailand. Just yesterday, I read that it looks like Thailand will pass laws that gay people can legally marry. Legalizing gay marriage in the USA is already having ripping effects worldwide, so this will open many new doors for people worldwide wishing to pursue surrogacy. I was just involved with a podcast that the AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) sponsored. What I learned was that the state department is looking to pass legislation with those countries who are under the Hague Convention umbrella to address many concerns for IP’s who pursue surrogacy internationally. The laws have not caught up with technology across the world and this presents problems.
Do facilitators assist with egg donation too? If not, what would IPs need to know and do to find an egg donor AND a surrogate?
We do, but I cannot speak for all facilitators. I have had clients bring their own egg donor to India for the creation of embryos. If a client wants an egg donor from India, I have them email a photo of themselves, and we consciously look for egg donor’s that fit their profile. I only work with doctor’s where we are able to secure a number of egg donors as well as surrogates, either through agencies or by word of mouth. Many egg donors as well as surrogates tell their friends, who then go through a battery of tests with the clinics to see they can be placed on the list for their services.
By: Crystal Travis