What is surrogacy

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What is surrogacy

Surrogacy is when a lady carries a child for an individual or a couple.  Depending on the arrangement, the intention will be for the surrogate to transfer her parental and legal rights to the individual or couple.

Surrogacy is gestational or traditional.  Gestational surrogacy is when the surrogate mother has no biological connection to the child.   IVF procedures will be used to create an embryo and that embryo will be transferred into the surrogate’s uterus.   An embryo is created using the gametes of the couple.  It may also be created using an individual’s gametes with an egg or sperm donor (known or anonymous). In order to get parental and legal rights, either you or your partner must be biologically connected to the child.

Traditional surrogacy is where the surrogate mother is biologically connected to the child.  The surrogate may agree to use her own gametes in which case self insemination or IUI (intrauterine insemination) may be attempted.  We advise that you use a clinic for this procedure to eliminate any doubt as to the artificial nature of the conception.

Surrogacy is used by gay couples to create a family.  An embryo is created using a known or anonymous egg donor and then fertilised with semen from one of the men.  The embryo is then transferred into the womb of the surrogate.    In some countries it is permissible to transfer an embryo belonging to each male.  This is not possible in the UK.   For legal and parental rights, one of the couple must be biologically related to the child.

A lesbian couple may choose to use a surrogate.  A known or anonymous sperm donor is used to create an embryo using eggs from one of the females.  The resulting embryo is then transferred into the womb of the surrogate.  For legal and parental rights, one of the couple must be biologically related to the child.

A single person may choose to use a surrogate.  An embryo is created using a known or anonymous donor.  The resulting embryo is then transferred into the womb of the surrogate.  A single person cannot apply for a Parental Order therefore must take legal advice before this process to ensure that they have options for parental and legal rights.

It is expected that from mid 2017 the law will change to permit single people to apply for a parental order.  This may be a male or female single person who has created an embryo using their gametes with a known or anonymous donor.

Recap on types of surrogacy

Host / Gestational Surrogacy

This is when an embryo is transferred into the womb of the surrogate.  The embryo would have been created using IVF techniques and may have been created with a known or anonymous egg or, sperm donor.  The surrogate’s gametes are NOT used.

Straight / Traditional Surrogacy

This is where the surrogate’s eggs are used to create an embryo using semen from one of the couple.  Alternatively, semen is inseminated into the surrogate using IUI techniques.  In some countries a surrogate is not permitted to provide her eggs and be a surrogate therefore you must do your research.

The insemination must be artificial and one of the couple must be biologically related to the child in order to apply for a Parental Order and become legal parents.

The most important thing to do is to get legal advice before you proceed.  You need to be sure that you can become the legal parent once the child is born.  Legal parenthood is determined before insemination or embryo transfer and cannot be undone without a court Order or in some cases, it can never be undone.

For more information and advice about surrogacy please contact us.

Please be advised that our role is limited to providing legal advice on surrogacy based on the law in England.

We will not recommend any surrogacy provider, destination, agency or clinic. Entering into a surrogacy arrangement abroad requires much research and advice.  Our role is to advise you on your position from a UK law perspective if you were to proceed with your arrangement. If our advice concludes that you can become legal parents following the arrangement, it should not be considered as advice to proceed. If we have acted for couples who have entered into similar arrangements, you should not take that as advice to proceed.     

We will not take part in any negotiations for your surrogacy arrangement nor, will we review your surrogacy contracts.