Surrogacy can seem like a daunting prospect, but with legal guidance, it can be a straightforward, albeit emotional, journey. To clarify the process and dispel misconceptions around this subject, we have provided a step-by-step guide to the surrogacy process.
1: Choose Your Surrogacy Type
In the UK, there are two approved forms of surrogacy:
- Traditional surrogacy uses the surrogate mother’s own eggs, establishing a biological link with the child.
- Gestational surrogacy involves the surrogate carrying a child on behalf of another without a biological connection to the child. This is the more common choice in the UK.
Each surrogacy route comes with its unique challenges, so you should make sure to discuss your options with a medical professional before making any important decisions.
2: Select a Clinic Wisely
Children born via surrogacy must be conceived artificially. You will need to select a specialised clinic to support you with this process. It’s important that you work with medical professionals who you trust and feel comfortable with. Thoroughly research fertility clinics to find one that has the right expertise and is one that meets your needs. Consult with the medical teams to ensure you’re confident with your choice.
3: Create Embryos
At least one of the intended parents must have a biological connection to the child to qualify for a parental order in the UK. Whilst donor eggs or donor sperm can be used, one parent’s gametes must cbe used to create the embryo.
4: Identify a Surrogate
Specialist charities, such as Surrogacy UK and My Surrogacy Journey, can assist you in finding a match but it can take time. If you’re considering a friend or family member, discuss the implications at length to ensure you have a strong foundation. The surrogate will obviously play a key role in the process, and they will need to understand the physical and emotional effects of surrogacy as well as the legal position.
5: Draft a Surrogacy Agreement
Although not legally binding in the UK, surrogacy agreements outline the intentions of all parties involved regarding the child’s care, decision-making and financial arrangements. Most clinics will request to see this document, and it may be cited in later legal steps. To draft any legal or important documents, you should seek the assistance of a legal professional specialising in surrogacy.
6: Seek Legal Advice
Both intending parents and surrogates should seek legal advice to understand their respective legal standings. In the UK, the default position is legal parents of the child are the surrogate (and her spouse, if applicable). A surrogacy solicitor can explain the legal criteria for obtaining a parental order to transfer legal parentage to the intended parents and can guide you through the process.
7: Begin Treatment
When you’re emotionally prepared, and after obtaining medical and legal advice, the treatment can start.
Although it may seem like a lengthy nine months, the pregnancy is a special time to bond with your surrogate. Attend scans, catch up frequently and relish the burgeoning anticipation of becoming parents.
9: Apply for a Parental Order
After your child reaches six weeks of age, you’re eligible to apply for a parental order. Once granted, this will transfer legal parenthood from the surrogate and her spouse to the intended parents, concluding your surrogacy journey and ushering in the start of your adventures as a family.
A revised birth certificate will be issued, acknowledging your legal parentage and marking the completion of your surrogacy – with the most thrilling chapter just beginning.