Surrogacy & Surrogate MothersSurrogacy is a medically assisted procreation technique in which a woman carries and gives birth to a baby for you.
This is the only option for women who have medical or genetic problems which make it impossible to conceive naturally. It is also the method chosen by male same-sex couples to have a baby.
Why Consider Becoming a Surrogate?In the UK, it is prohibited for a surrogate to profit financially from carrying someone else's child. The intended parents are only expected to cover any pregnancy-related expenses that their surrogate might incur.
Most surrogates who decide to carry someone else’s child do it altruistically, in order to help people who want a baby but cannot conceive, for instance, due to fertility issues. Sometimes, women who choose to become a surrogate have experienced a period of infertility themselves or know somebody else that has. Their personal experience enables them to empathize with people who can’t have a baby naturally.
What are the Different Types of Surrogacy?There are two types of surrogate mothers:
This is when the woman is inseminated with the intended father’s sperm in order to fertilise her eggs.
This can be done using an at-home kit, or with the help of medical professionals at a clinic.The traditional method ensures that the mother will have a biological connection with her child.
Host/GestationalThis method can only be performed at a licensed clinic and involves IVF treatment on both the intended mother’s eggs and the father's sperm. The sperm and/or the eggs can also be provided by a known or anonymous donor.
The surrogate bears the child for the intended parents until birth but is not genetically related to the baby, as the fertilised egg that began the process belong to the intended mother. The surrogate can be referred to as the “birth mother” whereas the “biological mother” is the woman whose eggs were fertilised.
What Does the Law Say?If you are looking for a surrogate, you will need to be aware of the associated laws in your country.
In the UK, surrogacy is allowed. Nonetheless, surrogacy arrangements are not enforced by law, even if the intended parents have signed a contract with their surrogate and paid for any expenses. Furthermore, it is illegal to pay a surrogate mother for her services, the only exception being to help her cover any costs she may incur as a result of the pregnancy.
According to the law, a surrogate is automatically designated as the legal mother of the child she carries. She has the right to keep the child, even if she does not have any genetic link to it.As for the father’s rights, the surrogate’s husband or civil partner is considered as the legal parent. However, legal rights can be transferred to the intended parent through a parental order or adoption.
If the birth mother is single, or if she and her partner are not married and not in a civil partnership, there is no legal father unless her partner expressly gives his permission.For this reason, it is highly recommended that anyone considering surrogacy should opt for an unmarried party. In this situation, the genetic father can be named on the birth certificate.
How Can I Apply for a Parental Order?To address any problems regarding the legal parent, a Parental Order can be put in place in order to transfer their rights to the intended parents. Since 2010, unmarried and same-sex couples are able to apply for a parental order.
The conditions for this are that:
• At least one of the intended parents must be biologically related to the child
• At least one must live in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle Of Man.
• Both parents must be in a stable and long term relationship with each other, whether they are married, civil partners or living as partners. Single parents can’t apply for a parental order.
• You and your partner must also have the child living with you.
To apply for a parental order, you must:
• Fill in a ‘C51 application form for a parental order’ and send it to a family proceedings court. Forms must be completed and sent off within 6 months of the child’s birth.
• Provide the child’s birth certificate
• Pay a £215 court fee.
Then, the court sets a date for the hearing and provides a document called a ‘C52 acknowledgement form’ that the intended parents have to present to the birth mother. The surrogate mother must give her consent in writing.
How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?According to the law, a surrogate mother can’t receive any payment in exchange for carrying a baby for someone else. However, intended parents have the right to pay for all “reasonable expenses” incurred during the pregnancy.
Costs that the intended parents should consider are:
• Expenses incurred traveling to and from the fertility clinic, as well as any costs related to visits with the surrogate and the intended parents.
• Maternity clothes and any other items the surrogate might need for her pregnancy.
• Potential loss of earnings.
• Costs related to the fertility clinic and IVF treatment.
• If the surrogate has children, childcare services may be required from time to time to cover any pregnancy-related absences.
• Court fee (£215).
Although the price may vary according to the situation, intended parents can expect to pay anywhere between £7,000 - £15,000. It’s best that both parties discuss this before the pregnancy.
What about Maternity and Paternity Leave?As with any pregnant employee, surrogates are entitled to 52 weeks’ of maternity leave, as well as the guarantee that their job will be there when they return. Whether the surrogate choose to keep the child or not, her right to maternity leave remains the same.
As for the intended parents who use a surrogate mother, they may be eligible for adoption pay and leave as well as paternity pay and leave. Intended parents who don’t meet the conditions of eligibility might have the right to ask for annual leave or parental leave instead.
How is Surrogacy Abroad?Whilst many countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Belgium, and Greece fully recognise and regulate the use of surrogacy as a medical practice, there are many countries that do not, for instance, France and Sweden.
That is why some couples choose to use a surrogate who lives abroad. They are recruited through an authorised agency and are paid upon getting pregnant.
If you opt to have a baby this way, you will need to ensure that neither their home country nor yours forbids this.