July 1, 2019
What is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is where a surrogate mother agrees to conceive and give birth to a child for another person or couple. This child can either be genetically related to her or not. Surrogacy is a legal arrangement and is a life-changing decision for both parties.
Who is Surrogacy for?
Surrogacy is an option for women who are unable to get pregnant, possibly due to a medical condition that makes conception dangerous or impossible. These medical conditions may include one or more of the following:
- Recurrent pregnancy loss
- Absence or malformation of the womb
- Repeated IVF implantation failures.
Surrogacy is also a popular option for male same-sex couples wishing to have a family of their own. Surrogacy can also be an option for people who are single.
What is the Surrogacy Process?
The surrogacy process is very detailed and there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration by everyone involved. Before you commence your surrogacy journey, it is important you’re aware that there are two types of surrogacy:
Full Surrogacy: this is also known as host or gestational surrogacy and is when the eggs of the mother-to-be (or a donor) are used. In cases of full surrogacy, there is no genetic connection between the surrogate and the baby.
Partial Surrogacy: this is also known as straight or traditional surrogacy. Partial Surrogacy involves fertilisation of the surrogate’s egg with the sperm of the intended father. If you are interested in partial surrogacy, it is important you have treatment at a licensed UK fertility clinic.
How Can I Find a Surrogate?
A question we get asked a lot at Wessex Fertility is, how can I find a surrogate? While some people ask family members or friends to be their surrogate, for others this may not be an option. If you would prefer to use someone you don’t know, you will need to do your research thoroughly.
We recommend the following organisations if you’re starting out your research journey into surrogacy:
It is important you’re as clear as possible about how things will work. There are so many things you need to consider, including how much contact you will have with the surrogate before, during and after the pregnancy, when you will tell your child about their origins, and so much more. If you search for a surrogate through a licensed and professional organisation, these are all points they can help advise you on.
What are the Success Rates of Surrogacy?
The success rates of surrogacy really do depend on a number of factors, including the following:
- The surrogate’s ability to get pregnant
- The success of the treatment you are having (whether IVF, IUI, or ICSI)
- The quality of the father’s or donor’s sperm
- The age of the woman whose eggs are being used.
The age of the eggs being used is perhaps the most important factor here as it can greatly increase or decrease the chances of a successful pregnancy.
How Much Does a Surrogate Cost?
In the UK, you are not allowed to pay a surrogate. However, you are responsible for reimbursing the surrogate for any reasonable expenses which incur during her pregnancy, such as maternity clothes, travel expenses to doctor appointments, and any loss of professional earnings.
Although expenses will vary, Surrogacy UK state that surrogates typically receive around £10,000 – £15,000. It is important to note that extra expenses may apply if your surrogate has twins.
Are There Any Risks of Using a Surrogate?
Although fertility treatment is generally safe, if you are having fertility treatment, there are some risks you should be aware of:
- Having a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets or more)
- Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (a severe reaction to fertility drugs)
- Possible birth defects (these are rare)
- An ectopic pregnancy.
There are also risks of transferring infectious diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis to the surrogate. This is why we carry out thorough testing and screen both the egg and sperm donor before treatment begins. The final risk of surrogacy is that the surrogate can change her mind about the arrangement at any time.
Surrogacy and the Law
As you can tell from the information above, there can be complicated legal issues involved. And this is one of the many reasons why we strongly advise you to seek legal advice before seeking a surrogate.
The Surrogates Legal Rights to the Child
In the UK, the surrogate is the legal mother of the child unless you get a parental order from the court. This is still the case even if the surrogate is not genetically related to the child because you have used your own egg or sperm, or those from a donor. Once you have a parental order from the court, the surrogate will have no further rights to the child.
The Second Legal Parent
The second legal parent of the child will be present at the birth. Who this is will depend on your personal circumstances. If the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership, her partner will automatically be the second legal parent and will be present at the birth. Unless, of course, the partner did not consent to the surrogacy or any of the treatment.
If, however, the surrogate is single, the man providing the sperm will automatically become the second legal parent of the child. However, the surrogate does have the right to nominate a second legal parent such as the non-biological father or the intended mother if that is preferred. For this to happen, the following needs to occur:
- The surrogate must complete the SWP. This form shows your consent as a surrogate and nominates the intended parent to be the legal parent. You can find a copy of the SWP form here.
- The intended second parent must complete the SPP form. This shows their consent to being the legal parent of the child. You can find a copy of the surrogacy form here.
As you can tell, there are a lot of complicated details involved in the legalities of surrogacy. So, it is important you talk through your options with us so that we can support you through the process.
What is the Surrogacy Process?
There are many aspects to surrogacy, and it can be a complicated process. So, it is important to work alongside professionals who can provide the relevant support when you need it the most. A general overview of the surrogacy process is as follows:
- You apply as a parent wanting a surrogate (or you apply as a surrogate)
- You complete an initial consultation, if you are the parents. You meet all the requirements as a surrogate if you want to be a surrogate.
- Surrogates and parents-to-be are matched.
- Thorough medical screenings, medications, and embryo transfers are carried out.
- Confirmation of pregnancy
- The delivery day and beyond.
Tied up in all of this process are many other details, including the legalities of the process which we touched on earlier.
Why Choose Surrogacy?
Many people have questions when it comes to surrogacy and this is because it’s often a topic that isn’t discussed very much. So, why should you choose surrogacy to grow your family? Well, surrogacy allows couples and individuals from a variety of backgrounds, sexual orientation, ages, and medical conditions to have the families they’ve always dreamed of. Each surrogacy journey is unique and surrogacy has been the perfect solution for so many people. Intended parents who use surrogacy include the following:
- Heterosexual couples struggling with infertility.
- Intended mothers who are unable to carry a child due to medical conditions, complications, or dangers.
- Same-sex couples who want to have a genetic link to their baby.
- Single people.
- Individuals with a genetic defect or health condition that they don’t want to pass onto their child.
What Does Surrogacy Mean for You?
Becoming a parent through the selfless and sacrificial act of surrogacy is an emotional and very rewarding journey. As with any fertility journey, it can have its ups and downs, however, the day your baby is born cannot be described. Surrogacy could give you the opportunity to have the family you’ve always dreamed of.
If you would like to find out more about surrogacy, the process, and the options available to you, get in touch today. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.