By Ruth Muganzi
Every so often, LGBTI persons have had to deal with the dilemma of starting a family. After getting past the ridicule and hurdles that come with identifying as a sexual minority, the decision to become parents is another of the hardest challenges LGBTI persons encounter.
But there is hope, for those that have made up their minds and ruled out adoption. Gal Sava, a courageous individual who went through the upheaval of starting a family and succeeded decided to share his journey with the rest of the world in the hope that he would help other people with the same predicament.
In 2010 Gal Sava and his partner decided to expand their family unit and to bring a child in a surrogacy process. Quickly they learned that it’s not simple and there is a lot of Bureaucracy involved, financial expenses, mental difficulties and so on.
Just before they were ready to give up, they were informed that there surrogate mother got pregnant and that the process was successful.
In those moments of despair, and after experiencing both the joys and hardships of this journey to fatherhood, Gal was inspired to help others and decided to dedicate his life to assist other couples in getting through this exhausting process.
In 2011, while he was waiting for his unborn baby to come into the world, he quit his job and started to build the basis for “Viva surrogacy”. Nowadays, 4 years later, He has already assisted in more than a 120 successful surrogacy based births as part of Viva.
Gal is now a father of two boys. His eldest son was born through surrogacy in India in 2012. His youngest son was born through surrogacy in Thailand in 2014.
After the overwhelming experience, Gava founded “Viva surrogacy” International agency, to help others fulfill their dream of becoming parents.
“VIVA Surrogacy” was established in 2011 to help couples and individuals to achieve their dreams to become parents.
Their mission is to create a balance in supporting both the Surrogate and the Intended Parents through this wonderful, yet highly emotional, journey. They provide complete support and guidance throughout the process, as well as through the medical and psychological screenings and the drafting of legal contracts. We are also pleased to be available for continued assistance as needed throughout the pregnancy.
Up until about a decade ago, surrogacy was only an option for very few people – straight couples who didn’t manage to have babies, who had gone through IVF treatments that failed. These couples would have an assessment done, and if they ‘got approved’, they had the privilege of having a surrogate mother who will carry their baby for them.
In the last decade, the option of surrogacy has become available for many: couples, as well as singles who can’t have children in any other way. First of all, the awareness among fertility doctors and couples facing fertility problems has massively risen, and many couples who have been trying to have babies with the help of IVF treatments for a long period of time, years sometimes, are no longer taking such a long time to consider the option of surrogacy.
The awareness and the growing number of couples wanting to use surrogacy as means of having children resulted in a tricky situation – it was hard to find a surrogate in one’s home country since there were not as many surrogate mothers available or it was not legal procedure.
Many couples had to pay a very large amount of money and yet to ‘compromise’ on a surrogate mother, one they didn’t bond with or trusted. The outcome was that the couples began to look for alternatives overseas. This crowd was joined by gay couples and singles who legally couldn’t apply for surrogacy in their country, and who had no option of having children without the help of the surrogacy process abroad.
In many places around the world, the law allows only married couples to go through the surrogacy process. In some countries these couples are expected to go through IVF treatments, when that fails they are being evaluated, and if accepted they get matched with a surrogate mother that suits them. In most cases, the waiting period lasts approximately 2 years, however, in some cases it may differ.
In the last few years, the countries that provided surrogacy as a solution to couples interested in the process changed every few years depending on the local legislation. For example India, that was the main destination for singles and gay couples, closed its gates to them in 2013. A year and a half later Thailand also shut the doors to people who were not Thai citizens. Today the leading destinations are Nepal, Ukraine, Mexico, Georgia and the US, forbids surrogacy.
Some of the States in the US are very much ‘in favor’ in regards to legislating laws in the field of surrogacy. For example in California the rights of all sides are defined in the law of the State and the process is very well planned and executed.
The legal complexity serves as a crucial consideration in choosing in which country to have the procedure. Doing something that is not legal can put the couple and the baby at risk. Why do couples choose surrogacy? Usually one of the two reasons below:
- Couples that have low chances to have a baby via IVF treatments will choose surrogacy in order to lessen their distress.
- Couples that can’t have children due to an illness, or if there is no woman in the equation (gay couples or singles). The process usually starts with an approach to a local agency that escorts the couple throughout the process – selecting a surrogate mother, choosing the destination where the surrogacy takes place, picking an egg donor, support during and after the pregnancy.
In the first meeting with the agency the couple receives a lot of information that needs to be processed. Their options are communicated to them, the cost of each alternative in accordance with the destination and package they choose.
Gal Sava: From my personal experience with my partner, bringing a child via surrogacy process, without the assistance of the agencies that were operating at the time, was nearly impossible. There are so many details, arrangements, coordination, bureaucracy, decisions, things to take into considerations etc. that many times the personal involvement, after various trials, will damage the ability to make decisions in a rational, logic manner. A professional factor will be able to navigate between all the options, to advise, solve problems and assist in making the best decision.
The alternatives differ in the quality of the medical treatment, intended parents’ level of involvement in the process, cost and so on. The main things to take into consideration when choosing a destination for surrogacy are the following:
- Quality of clinic that is carrying out the IVF treatment; the clinic success rates
- Quality of the medical care, the treatment of the surrogate mother throughout the pregnancy and during birth
- The credibility of the agency escorting the couple
- Level of communication and interaction between the surrogate mother and the intended parents (if interested in a having a relationship).
- Distance of the intended parents from the destination where the surrogacy is held
- Law / policy in the country where surrogacy is held and the method of registering the baby (birth certificate)
- How long it takes to exit the country with the baby 9. The couples’ country of preference to be staying at until they receive visa permits to leave with the baby.
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