Our partner Anthony Gold Solicitors take a sensitive approach to intended parents wishing to start a family through surrogacy and share their advice on surrogacy arrangements both domestically and internationally.
Surrogacy arrangements date back to biblical times but gained real potential after 1978 when the first baby was conceived via IVF. This innovation pioneered further medical advances in the field of childbirth. In 1982, the first baby was born via egg donation. In 1985, the first gestational surrogacy was achieved, meaning there was no genetic link between birth mother and baby.
The growth of surrogacy arrangements has increased dramatically over recent years, with the oldest recorded surrogate being aged 61 who gave birth to her own grandchild. Surrogacy arrangements have gained further prominence with stars such as Elton John, Robbie Williams, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Kardashian extending their family in this way.
There are many reasons why people turn to surrogacy, which include failed IVF procedures, recurring miscarriages, pregnancy health risks, premature menopause or internal abnormalities. These types of arrangements are also very popular in the LGTBQ+ community as they allow a genetic link to be created to a child where otherwise it might not have been possible.
Surrogacy in England is legal, but the surrogacy agreements themselves are not legally binding or enforceable. It is a criminal offence to advertise for a surrogate or for a surrogate to advertise surrogacy services. In order to minimise risk, it is therefore recommended to join an experienced surrogacy organisation. The three largest surrogacy organisations are: Surrogacy UK, Brilliant Beginnings and COTS. These organisations help intended parents (IPs) to find a surrogate and conduct background and medical checks to ensure the right candidates are found and matched. It is important for the IPs to develop a relationship of trust with the surrogate and to get to know each other properly before any surrogacy journey is embarked upon.
Conception with the surrogate will always be by artificial insemination either at an IVF clinic or at the surrogate’s home if their egg is being used. Following a positive pregnancy test, the IPs will usually attend appointments and scans with the surrogate. The amount of contact they have during the pregnancy will usually have been agreed between the parties in the surrogacy agreement. This will contain a lot of detail such as any supplements or medications the surrogate might take. More crucially it will cover the birth arrangements and the surrogate’s expenses.
It is extremely important for the IPs to appreciate that the surrogate will have automatic legal parenthood and parental responsibility of the child by virtue of the birth. If the surrogate is married, her husband will be the second parent NOT the biological father. This may not be the case locally if the surrogacy arrangement takes place abroad. This is why destinations such as the USA, Canada and the Ukraine are popular.
However, whether the baby is born at home or overseas, the IPs should always obtain a parental order to reassign parenthood and parental responsibility to themselves. This is regardless of how parenthood is treated abroad.
If you require further information or legal advice regarding domestic or international surrogacy arrangements, please contact Fiona Lyon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 940 4060 to book an appointment.
Anthony Gold Solicitors are offering Clapham Mums a free 20 minute consultation.