Surrogacy Not Always Plain Sailing
With well-known celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman having babies by surrogacy, it makes surrogacy seem easy. Another well-known couple, Elton John and his partner David Furnish are also the proud legal parents of their new baby, carried by a surrogate in America, now that Parental Orders also apply to same sex couples.
But does surrogacy always go so smoothly?
What if you aren't rich and famous, and want to use a surrogate, what then?
What To Think About
· You need to consider what type of person is the prospective surrogate.
· What is her current lifestyle?
· What sort of education does she have?
· What is her motivation behind offering her services?
· Is it purely altruistic or does she have a hidden agenda?
· Are you intending to have full or host surrogacy, where the clinic uses your egg and your partner's sperm?
· Or partial or traditional surrogacy where the surrogate's egg is used with man's sperm?
When It Goes Wrong
Example Story: A couple who were unable to have children of their own made an informal arrangement with a woman they met on an online surrogacy forum. The couple used the husband's sperm to artificially inseminate the woman in her home. As commercial surrogacy is illegal in Britain at present, they agreed to pay the surrogate expenses of about £7,000. However, things between the couple and the surrogate started to go wrong about half way through the pregnancy and the surrogate decided that she wanted to keep the baby. The couple did their best to persuade her to change her mind, but after the birth she still decided to keep the baby. The couple then applied for custody of the baby and lost. To add insult to injury the surrogate decided to apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA) for maintenance. The judge decided that the father will have to pay over £500 a month in maintenance until the child is 18. However, the couple are appealing the decision. The couple, who are completely devastated, now suspect that the surrogate intended from the beginning to find a rich couple who could help support her.
How can you avoid this type of situation happening to you?
Take Expert Legal Advice
The law is very complicated. Although surrogacy agreements are not legally binding in the UK, there are safeguards to take. Anyone wanting to use a surrogate should take legal advice from solicitors with expertise in this area. They can then advise how to proceed and help draw up an agreement. After the baby is born, in order to be considered the legal parents, you will need to apply for a Parental Order.
Use A Licensed Fertility Clinic
If you use a licensed fertility clinic which helps give ART to surrogates, both you and the surrogate will be given extensive counselling and screening before being given treatment. If you are able to use your egg and sperm or a donor egg and your sperm, or a donor egg and a donor sperm, the surrogate will not be genetically related to the baby in any way. Both you and the surrogate will need to sign agreements prior to treatment, which although not legally binding, may help you gain custody if there is a dispute.
Join A Support Group
There are several voluntary non-profit surrogacy support groups in the UK like COTS and Surrogacy UK that have a lot of experience in counselling people who are looking at surrogacy. A support group will be able to support both you and your surrogate and help ease any problems that may arise.