Celebs do it. Same sex partners do it. Couples with difficulty conceiving do it. It’s even played out as a dramatic story line on Coronation Street. Its surrogacy, and it can be a legal and emotional minefield if you are not careful.
Outsiders looking in may not understand why anyone would go through the process of surrogacy. Adoption seems like a much more practical solution, especially with so many orphaned children in the world today. And if seemingly able-bodied women go down the surrogate route, it is often assumed she was too ‘lazy’ to go through the pregnancy herself and hired a womb to do the job. But for those in the situation where they cannot bear their own children for health or age reasons, this is the only way for a couple to have a biological connection with the child.
Once the decision to move forward with surrogacy is made, many couples are quickly overwhelmed by constraints placed on surrogacy by English law. Under the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985, ‘Commercial arrangements’ where anything beyond reasonable expenses are paid are illegal under the Surrogacy Arrangements Act of 1985, leaving couples in the awkward position of depending on family or friends, or engaging in an illegal activity. Not only that, but surrogacy arrangements are not legally enforceable under UK law, leaving the birth mother opportunity to change her mind. Daunted by so many issues, couples are looking into surrogacy in foreign countries with less restrictive laws like India and the US.
The government, it seems, is now starting to take notice. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office seems to see the problems facing couples who are going abroad for a surrogate, and have published a guide “for British nationals who are considering entering into surrogacy arrangements in foreign countries.”
A quick summary of subjects covered in Surrogacy Overseas are:
• Returning to the UK with the new child or children can be a complex process requiring several months to complete.
• The necessary travel documents can take up to six months to obtain and many countries have special visa requirements for couples seeking surrogacy.
• There may be restrictions on surrogacy even in those countries where it is legal – it may, for example, be available only to married, opposite sex couples.
• When commissioning couples do return to the UK with the surrogate child (or children), they will again need to obtain a parental order in the courts before they are considered the legal parents.
FCO Children’s Policy Advisor Daisy Organ said:
The legal procedures surrounding international surrogacy are complex, and the processes for securing passports and confirming nationality for the child can be lengthy and problematic. The best way to move forward is hiring a reputable family law specialist. Lund Bennett can help. Call our caring, professional team today for a consultation.