Is surrogacy for me?
It is important to be up-front and say that the surrogacy process is often a demanding and emotionally taxing experience. The wait to find a surrogate can be especially demanding. Surrogacy UK will support you throughout this period but we cannot remove the uncertainty and the waiting inherent in the surrogacy process.
To be thinking about surrogacy you should be in a strong, supportive relationship. If you are approaching surrogacy because of infertility problems you need to be in a place where you have accepted these problems, and are ready to move on. You should not still be trying to become pregnant yourself if you come to Surrogacy UK. It is also useful to have fully explored other options like adoption before you decide that surrogacy is the path you wish to choose.
Why does someone want to be a surrogate?
Most Surrogates feel great empathy for Intended Parents who, for whatever reason, cannot carry a child of their own. They know the great joy their children have given them and want Intended Parents to experience this joy too. It is usually just as simple as that: we know that sounds extraordinary, but it’s true. We hope this is reflected in the following comments from some Surrogate members of Surrogacy UK:
“I joined Surrogacy UK two years ago after thinking about surrogacy for years. I knew there were many people out there who couldn’t have children and, although I had finished having children for myself, everything still worked and that I could help someone have a family of their own. My husband was, at first, a bit reluctant but when my son climbed on his lap and said “Daddy, I love you” he looked at me and said that he would be behind me 100%, so we had a good look around and eventually decided that the “Friendship First” basis of SUK was what we wanted so we set off on the job of trying to help “bake someone’s bun in our oven” (host surrogacy).
We have been very fortunate to have made some fantastic friends here and although our first partnership didn’t have the blessed outcome, we now have firm friends for life and wouldn’t have had that without Surrogacy UK.” (Michelle)
“[Why did I decide to become a surrogate?] This is actually a really difficult question to answer! Surrogacy has been a subject that has interested me for a number of years. We had our first child in 2002, parenthood was such a fantastic experience, we treasured every moment. When we decided to try for a second child, we struggled to conceive. After many inconclusive tests and about 4 years later we finally succeeded. Those were 4 very difficult years of not knowing if we would ever be able to have any more children. That is when the subject of surrogacy first entered my mind: knowing what we went through, and knowing that so many people are in the same situation.
We have since gone on (very easily) to have a third child. We have now completed our family, and are very happy. We feel it is now the right time to help others’ dreams of children become a reality. I can understand the difficultly that some couples and families go through to become parents, having been inthat situation. I feel that everyone deserves the right to experience the completeness that a child brings. Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience the joys of parenthood. This is my reason for wanting to be a surrogate.
Other people may have their own reasons but ultimately it is all about wanting to help others who, for whatever the reason, cannot carry their own child. After all, I am 28, I have had my family, my uterus is no longer of use to me, so why not let someone else use it??!! For me it is not an amazing thing to do, it’s just the right thing to do. Our Intended Parents are so important to us, they are our best friends and family, and this makes our journey together that much more special.” (Jen)
In the UK it is not legal to make a profit from a surrogacy arrangement; expenses can only cover the cost that a pregnancy brings for a surrogate and her family. At Surrogacy UK we make sure that we talk to each potential surrogate to help them develop an understanding of what surrogacy involves and what they can expect in terms of the law and expenses.
So at Surrogacy UK, the motivation for Surrogates is not money.
Will my surrogate want to keep the child?
Surrogates never see the baby they are carrying for a couple as theirs – they have become involved in surrogacy because they want to help a couple have their own child. But it is important to realise that in the eyes of the law, the baby is not yours until the Parental Order has been issued after the baby is born: that means the surrogate could keep the baby if she chose to. That’s why it is so important that surrogacy is based on friendship. No surrogate has ever tried to keep the baby for herself at Surrogacy UK and we firmly believe it is because we put such a strong emphasis on building a solid friendship first.
Will a surrogate become emotionally dependent on me?
Many successful IPs have formed a deep bond with their surrogate that will last a lifetime; however, this is not the same thing as an emotionally unbalanced relationship. Most surrogates have a family of their own, their own friends and support system – and often work as well.
At Surrogacy UK we have a network of support workers who can help you find the right balance with your surrogate – the more you get to know each other beforehand, the more you will know if you are well suited to enter into surrogacy together.
How long will it take?
It’s really not possible to answer this question and there are no guarantees. Much depends on your willingness to take part in the online community and attend socials, and there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to the running of Surrogacy UK itself. All of these things raise your profile, get you known, and may increase the chance that a surrogate mother will want to get to know you.
But above all, it’s about you as a couple finding a surrogate mother that you click with: this is about the natural chemistry that exists between people. There’s lots you can do as an IP to try and make this happen, but no-one can promise how long this will take, or indeed whether it will happen at all.
How much will it cost?
The law states clearly that no surrogate may receive any form of payment during or after a surrogacy agreement. However Surrogates must not be left out of pocket, and it is perfectly legal (and expected within Surrogacy UK) that IPs pay for all reasonable expenses incurred by the surrogate. How much these expenses come to will vary greatly depending on the surrogate’s circumstances.
You need to consider the travel costs for when the surrogate and her family come to see you, and for her travel to and from the fertility clinic or hospital; loss of earnings may need to be paid; money for maternity clothing may be required and childcare may need to be arranged for when the surrogate mother is away from her own children. It is Surrogacy UK’s policy that, if requested by the surrogate mother, her IPs should fund, to a reasonable extent, the costs of her accessing professional counselling. The purpose of this is to support her in resolving any issues that have arisen as a result of her surrogacy journey. Surrogacy UK’s website links to various sources of skilled counselling expertise.
In our experience the costs for expenses range from around £7,000 to £15,000, but you should not use that to predict the costs in your own arrangement. Every situation is different, and how much may be needed must be discussed in detail before finalising a surrogacy arrangement.
You will also need to consider the costs you may incur if you are planning to use the services of an IVF clinic.
How will my family and friends react?
It’s obviously not possible to give a definitive answer to this question. Many will be intrigued, and will want to know every detail of how the process works. Others will just be very, very, happy for you, and pleased that you are about to start on a new journey that will hopefully allow you to fulfil your dreams and put your past pains behind you.
For understandable reasons many friends and family will also be worried for you – after all, they do not know how things are done at Surrogacy UK and they will be aware of the pain that has led you to considering surrogacy as a way forward. We have laid out some tips below that may help you:
- Educate your friends and family: talk them through why you are doing this and what it involves. It might be a good idea to share some of the information on surrogacy provided by Surrogacy UK and other sources.
- Keep them involved: it is easy to get swept up with surrogacy and it can be an intense experience. Don’t neglect your friends and family: make sure you make them feel part of your journey too. You may even want to bring them along to some socials!
- Be open and honest: as with most things in life people find it easier to adapt to things if they feel you have been honest with them. The earlier you tell them about your plans the more they will have time to adapt, learn about your journey and share your experiences
How will I become the legally named parent of my child?
At the moment of birth, the woman who gives birth to a child is regarded as the legal mother, regardless of the child’s genetic origins. Her husband/partner, if she has one, is regarded as the legal father. If the surrogate is unmarried however then the genetic father can be named on the birth certificate.
Parental orders are there to address parenthood issues following surrogacy. Like an adoption order, a parental order reassigns parenthood, extinguishing the parental status of the surrogate parents, and conferring full parental status and parental responsibility on both Intended Parents.
For a Parental Order to be granted the following are all required:
Both Intended Parents must be over eighteen
- At least one IP must be biologically related to the child
- At least one IP must be domiciled in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man
- The IPs must be in a stable, long term relationship. Since April 2010, unmarried and same sex couples have been able to apply for a parental order.
- The conception must have taken place artificially (which can include home insemination)
- The child must have his/her home with the Intended Parents at the time of the application
- The surrogate mother and her husband must fully and freely consent to making the order. The surrogate mother cannot validly give her consent until the child is 6 weeks old.
No more than reasonable expenses must have been paid, unless authorised by the court. What constitutes reasonable expenses is different in each particular case. Although the courts have shown a reasonably broad-brush approach in the past, great care needs to be taken, and you must be able to justify each individual payment.
Will I be entitled to maternity leave?
It is very disappointing that intended parents through Surrogacy do not have the same rights to parental leave in the work-place as those who are able to have children naturally or become parents through adoption. Some employers do offer some paid leave but it is at their discretion and it varies enormously from company to company. Most companies have detailed adoption leave policies: some members have successfully argued that their employer should grant adoption leave arrangements following surrogacy.
Having said that, there is light at the end of the tunnel – the government recently release a consultation paper which offers hope that by 2015, parents through Surrogacy will have formal maternity leave rights.
I’m part of a gay male couple – how do I chose who will be the biological father?
There aren’t that many Gay male parents to ask for advice, but we did ask those who are members of Surrogacy UK in the hope of listing the things they considered when making this decision:
- Think about who the main carer of the child will be. So that both fathers can feel a strong parental bond with the child, you may consider that one of you will be the biological father, and the other will stay home as the main carer.
- Think about making it as random as possible. In straight surrogacy it is not recommended to mix up the sperm from both intended fathers – there could be a chance of it “fighting” which can reduce the chances of pregnancy. But you could take turns, either within one cycle (e.g. you could each do the inseminations on alternate days), or on alternate cycles. If you do take turns within a cycle you will need to have a DNA test done once the baby has been born as you need to establish who is the father for the parental order process. DNA tests are not performed or covered by the NHS so you’d need to organise this separately and pay for it.
- In host surrogacy it is illegal to transfer embryos from more than one father in any one cycle. But if you both have embryos stored, you could use embryos from alternate fathers in alternate cycles.
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