As part of our campaign for reform of surrogacy law (http://www.surrogacyuk.org/legal-reform-for-surrogacy.html) we interviewed three surrogates from Surrogacy UK to ask them why they became surrogates, how they feel about the people they help and the babies they carry, and what they think about being the legal mother at birth under UK law.
The result was an inspiring and emotional conversation that is really worth a listen:
The conversation highlights the fact that the current law protects no one – the child is not legally part of the right family at birth, parents have no rights until a parental order (PO) is granted (which can take over a year), and surrogates are left with the risk that they will be left holding a baby that isn’t theirs, as well as financial and legal obligations that they don’t want until the PO takes place.
It also creates some practical difficulties especially at the birth, with surrogates being made to make medical decisions for the children, parents unable to hold their baby when they leave the hospital, and parents being ignored during those first few moments of parenthood. “It really belittles the wonderful experience that we had …. It certainly made the IPs feel less of a parent”, Sarah, a three times surrogate, explains. Sierra, who is currently pregnant with her third surrogate baby, adds “[the head of midwifery] told me that once the baby was born, if I failed to look after the baby she would report me to social services for neglect and I would lose my own children… Every time the baby’s parents tried to talk she literally put her hand in their face and said ‘with all due respect you are not the legal mother’ “.
Surrogates are clear, “she [the baby] never felt like mine at any point of the journey at all”, Sarah explains. Lianna, a host surrogate, adds, “it was horrible for his mum, not to be able to go on the birth certificate straight away. She’s his mother in every shape, way and form. Just because she didn’t carry him doesn’t make her any less of a mother”.
Even in the case of straight surrogacy, where the surrogate donates her eggs to the couple she is helping (meaning that there is a genetic connection between her and the baby); surrogates believe they should never be seen as the mother. Sarah explains, “they [the children] don’t at all feel like a relation to me because I genuinely see myself as an egg donor”.
What should happen if a surrogate does bond with the baby she is carrying? Again, there is a unanimous response, “I always knew that that baby was theirs. It was never mine and never mine to keep. I think the babies always belong to the parents”, Sierra explains. Sarah adds, “I think I always think of it as babysitting – you can become attached to them and love them but it doesn’t mean they’re yours to keep”.
Why do they do it? Lianna explains, “when he was born and he went to his mum, that moment was absolutely euphoric and I’ll never forget it. Just going home and thinking about that, that you made that happen and having that pride about yourself that you made that happen”.
Please support our campaign to change the principle of parenthood that governs surrogacy arrangements in order to enable children to be part of the right family from birth, and to enable single people and those using double donation to get legal parenthood for their children born through surrogacy. Email your MP using this link: http://www.surrogacyuk.org/legalreformemail.html, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be more involved.