Surrogacy law for heterosexual parents

mother kissing childThere are different types of surrogacy for mum-dad intended parents:

Gestational surrogacy - If you have embryos in storage or are able to create embryos through IVF treatment (either using your own gametes or donated eggs or sperm), they can be transferred to a surrogate, who then carries a child she is not biologically related to.

Traditional surrogacy – Your surrogate donates her egg to you as well as carrying your child. She might conceive through IVF treatment or artificial insemination at a clinic or at home.

Surrogacy in the UK
Surrogacy is legal in the UK. However, the law outlaws commercially arranged surrogacy and advertising for surrogates, so finding a surrogate can be challenging. Once you have found a surrogate, any agreement you enter into is unenforceable under UK law (although arrangements very rarely end in the surrogate changing her mind).  Find out more about surrogacy arrangements in the UK.  

International surrogacy
Another option is to conceive through an international surrogacy arrangement.  The most common surrogacy destinations are certain US states, Canada, Georgia and the Ukraine. India, Thailand, Mexico, Cambodia and Nepal have all now been shut down. Although overseas surrogacy arrangements can be easier to set up at the outset and allow you to enter into a legally binding contract, the international legal issues need to be managed carefully.  Find out more about international surrogacy law generally and about British nationality and UK immigration law.

Legal parenthood and parental orders
Your surrogate is your child's legal mother under English law, regardless of where in the world your child is born. Who is treated as your child's father/second parent is complicated, and depends on the circumstances including biology, your surrogate's relationship status and where conception takes place.  The English law solution is a parental order, which reassigns parenthood fully and permanently to you both and extinguishes the legal status and responsibilities of your surrogate (and her husband or wife). Married couples have been able to apply for a parental order since 1994 and unmarried couples since 6 April 2010.  Find out more about legal parenthood and parental orders.

Other post-birth issues
Since the parental order takes some months to obtain, you may need to think about legal rights and responsibilities in the interim period before things are fully resolved.  There may be issues in dealing with medical professionals and sometimes social services.  You may also have questions about your employment rights as new parents and whether you have the usual rights to maternity and paternity leave.  Find out more about your rights during the 'limbo' period.  

Your lack of legal status also makes it important for you to provide for what should happen if you or your surrogate dies so that your surrogate, her family and your child are protected.  Find out more about wills and life insurance.