I've been saying for a while to anyone that would listen about Thailand that the existing law has been such that surrogacy was neither legal nor illegal and therefore intended parents should proceed at their own risk. I've said this because as we have seen in other countries, laws can change overnight and those intended parents who had already signed-up or even worse, started, the process in Thailand could end up in legal limbo - which is exactly what seems to have happened.
What I've read on the great blog by Stephen Page (http://lgbtlawblog.blogspot.com.au/ ) as well as the Families Thru Surrogacy website run by Sam Everingham(http://www.familiesthrusurrogacy.com/surrogacy-by-country/surrogacy-in-thailand ) is that now surrogacy will be legal only if the intended parents:
- are heterosexual;
- are medically infertile;
- ensure that a non-commercial transaction takes place;
- use a surrogate that is a blood relative.
which as you can see basically excludes most people!
Thailand has been one of the cheapest options thus far for anyone looking at surrogacy but it of course had no written law around surrogacy. India changed the law to only allow straight, married couples to go through surrogacy but now the Indian IVF clinics / surrogacy agencies are opening up the ability to go through surrogacy in Nepal (I ask myself regularly why are they doing this? is it because surrogacy is such a cash generator !?!).
I hear of more and more surrogacy jurisdictions popping up and I fear that there are "professionals" who are taking advantage of the emotional need of intended parents who want a family (not that I know the ins-and-outs but read articles on Planet Hospital in Mexico). For us intended parents it is an emotional decision, for the unscrupulous it is a financial one and I have to remind intended parents of the cost vs. safety/security around the whole process angle.
I know of intended parents that are going to countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, the Czech Republic, Ukraine (even with the current problems with Russia) all because it is cheaper than looking at doing surrogacy in the US. Believe me when I say that I totally understand why this is happening, I really do, the US is the most expensive country to go through surrogacy BUT it is a known and understood concept, and most of all it is LEGAL in some States (not all, but some).
I continually hear the comment that US surrogacy "is so expensive, we can't afford it!" and yes as I've said it is expensive, but there are ways and means of going through the surrogacy process and minimising costs. In my mind the 3 largest costs are: agency, IVF and insurance.
I think that using an agency has its value but if cost is an issue then it can be done without one. There are multiple international groups on Facebook that are run by intended parents and allow people meet and match without using an agency (obviously in the UK intended parents need to be aware that they can't advertise that they are looking for a surrogate). You will still need a valid legal contract with your surrogate but that can be arranged with any attorney specialising in reproductive law.
The two IVF clinics in the US that I consult to (Connecticut Fertility Associates http://www.ctfertility.com/ and The Fertility Center of Las Vegas http://fertilitycenterlv.com/) both have ways that that enable intended parents to access cheaper IVF packages. For example via a "shared cycle" or frozen eggs / embryos. You just need to talk to them about what is available and do your research on what is best for you and your financial situation.
Insurance remains the biggest cost but if you are from the US and your surrogate has maternity cover and you are able to get new-born insurance then that cost can be minimised. If you are not from the US then perhaps you can approach the hospital that you want your child to be born in and negotiate a flat-fee with them directly. Arguably the hospital costs are massively inflated as insurance covers it so they might be amenable to a much reduced fee.
All of these things can bring the cost down to a manageable amount, granted it won't be a total cost of $10,000 but it could very well a lot lower than you originally expected AND you will be completely negating the risk that one day everything is proceeding perfectly fine and the next you're breaking the law.