Today’s ITV Daybreak featured Kyle Casson, a single dad who we are proud to be working with on his journey to become the first single parent through surrogacy in the UK. Well done to Kyle for speaking out so bravely, and for being such a great a champion for solo dads.
Kyle spoke characterically warmly about his plans to be a father. He has always wanted children, and wants to do it in his twenties (with active grandparents) rather than waiting for a partner who may not come along. He has planned things carefully, is financially secure, has the enthusiastic support of his family, and has a surrogate who wants to help him. You can see Kyle talking about his story on ITV Daybreak here.
So what does the law say?
The law in the UK has never made it illegal to enter into a surrogacy arrangement as a single father. But it doesn’t make it easy either. Most parents through surrogacy (including gay dads and unmarried couples) can apply for a ‘parental order’ after their child is born. This is an order made by the family court which gives the intended parents a new birth certificate and extinguishes the responsibilities of the surrogate mother. Single parents are not, however, eligible to apply.
This means it is perfectly legal for Kyle to have a child through surrogacy in the UK, but the normal solution for families created through surrogacy (designed to give lifelong security and certainty for the child) is not available. He will have to get creative with using law designed for other purposes to secure his family and resolve the position of his surrogate – adoption being the best alternative to a parental order if the family court will agree to help.
Our call to action
On behalf of Kyle and the increasing numbers of solo prospective dads we are advising (some going abroad for surrogacy, others entering into co-parenting arrangements) we at NGA call for parental orders to be made available to solo parents. The law has already been extended, in 2008, to allow gay dads and unmarried couples to apply, and it is now time to allow single parents to apply too. This would bring the law into line with adoption law, which allows single parents to become adopters, and with reproductive law for women which was specifically amended in 2008 to allow solo mums to conceive through donor insemination.
We frequently see heartbreaking cases caused by the denial of surrogacy to single parents. A change to the law would benefit not only prospective solo dads like Kyle, but also single women who have survived cancer and need the help of a surrogate to carry their child, and widowed fathers who want to use embryos in storage, just as widowed mothers are able to do.
And what do we say to people (like the lady on Daybreak with Kyle this morning) who say that such solo parents who want to have children are selfish? Well, wanting to be a parent is something most human beings experience, so it comes down to whether children suffer harm if raised without a mother and a father. This is an old question for non-traditional families, and the answer (backed by long research, including by the Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University) is that children in deliberately created non-traditional families (including solo parent families) have good outcomes, and are in a very different position from children whose parents have separated. It is the quality of the relationships which matters, and not the gender or number of the parents.
Find out more from our website about surrogacy law for single parents, or about the options for gay and solo dads.