Surrogacy, an arrangement where a woman carries and delivers a child for another couple or person, is outlawed in Finland. It is, however, practised in a few other European countries. Finland’s health and social welfare watchdog Valvira says it’s keeping an eye on Swedish surrogacy agency Tammuz Nordic Surrogacy since its website began offering information in Finnish. The company also hosted a seminar in Helsinki in April.
“We only monitor the work of Finnish healthcare professionals. We'll have a reason to get involved if Finnish healthcare workers start participating in surrogacy arrangements,” says Valvira senior legal affairs officer Tuula Stark.
Valvira has notified the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, but the agency has not picked up on the issue.
Stark points out that the surrogacy broker may be painting too rosy a picture regarding the realities of bringing a baby born via surrogate into Finland and what the road to establishing guardianship entails.
Based in Sweden, Nordic Surrogacy works closely with an Israeli company called Tammuz, which according to its website offers a variety of fertility services. Surrogates carry babies to term in Ukraine, Albania and the United States while eggs are harvested from donors in South Africa and Ukraine.
Stockholm-based Eduardo Alfonso founded Tammuz Nordic Surrogacy after becoming a single father to twin daughters via surrogate in Thailand in 2014. He started the first surrogacy agency in the Nordics two years ago and so far this year, four families have been created through his services in the Nordics, though not in Finland.
”We’ve mostly been focusing on Sweden, Denmark and Norway, but we’ve also held two events for interested parties in Helsinki,” says Alfonso.
Alfonso says he’s currently doing research with a Finnish lawyer to determine the legal steps required to establish parental rights for intended parents.
“We already know that Finns are making surrogacy trips to Russia,” Eduardo Alfonso explains, adding that his firm respects local laws.
No entry for baby
”Some people returning with babies born by surrogate say they feel like they’re treated like criminals by Finnish officials,” says Lise Eriksson, a Finnish researcher at Uppsala University’s Religion and Society Research Centre.
Parentage is easiest to determine when a DNA test can prove parenthood--that is when eggs or sperm of the intended parents are transferred to the surrogate, according to Eriksson.
”These agencies can be criticised for making money off the desperate situations many infertile people face," she adds.
Can you afford it?
Alfonso says surrogacy brokered by his agency costs between 42,000 and 55,000 euros, with the higher price including the use of donor eggs. His firm’s fee amounts to some 13,000 euros. Nordic Surrogacy says it works with prospective parents until fertilisation or pregnancy is achieved. This means egg donors or surrogate mothers may be switched in the process.
Eriksson’s research has meanwhile found that altruistic surrogacy—where money doesn't change hands—is usually the least problematic. This was the norm in Finland, often among friends and relatives, until all forms of surrogacy were outlawed in 2007.