The surrogacy process in the UK: What you should know

A pregnant woman - the surrogacy process in the UK
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Each country has different laws surrounding surrogacy. Here in the UK, surrogacy is a legal arrangement but any contracts or agreements made relating to the details are unenforceable.

Medical and reproductive advancements mean that surrogacy is now an option open to more people than ever before, including same-sex couples and transgender people. Intended parents might choose to use a surrogate because they can’t have a child naturally.

If you’re considering having a child through surrogacy, it can seem an overwhelming process. But, by understanding the different steps, you can make an informed decision and navigate your circumstances with confidence.

First steps

It’s important to avoid choosing an independent surrogate outside of an official organisation as this can increase the chances of something not going to plan with the arrangement. An organisation such as Surrogacy UK can provide useful information and support throughout the process and ensure that you choose a surrogate who has been through a detailed assessment and has a mentoring programme.

Choosing a surrogate

Once you’ve gone through the initial stage, you’ll choose a surrogate to have the child. The organisation you sign up with can help with this and facilitate meet-ups that allow you to get to know each other before making arrangements. It’s useful to get to know each other first to ensure you’re a good match and that you’re on the same page.

Your surrogacy agreement

Your surrogacy arrangement will be either gestational, where the surrogate is the host and the intended parents’ egg and sperm are used, or traditional, where the surrogate’s eggs are used. While there is no such thing as a legal surrogacy contract in the UK, it’s useful to set out the arrangement so both parties are fully aware of the expectations.

Choose a fertility clinic

You’ll want to choose a reputable fertility clinic such as one that’s listed on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Not all clinics can accommodate surrogacy so it’s important to check individual facility information. You might consider factors such as location, success rate, timescales and additional support.

Legal factors

Your surrogacy agreement will be based on trust rather than law and, as such, you won’t be able to pay your surrogate anything other than what’s classed as ‘reasonable expenses’. This could cover costs such as travel for example.

Once the child is born, as the intended parent or parents, you’ll need to wait six months to apply for a parental order. By law, the surrogate mother remains the child’s legal parent until parental responsibility has been transferred. It’s recommended that you choose a reputable children’s solicitor to assist with this process and help navigate the complexities.

While the process of surrogacy is by no means simple, by choosing to use an official organisation and seeking legal advice, you can ensure you’re as prepared and informed as possible, every step of the way.