The number of parents having a baby using a surrogate in England and Wales has almost quadrupled in the last 10 years and with celebrities such as Sir Elton John, Tom Daley and the Kardashians all starting families by way of surrogacy this figure is set to rise.
Whilst surrogacy has historically been linked to same sex couples for obvious reasons, heterosexual couples including the Kardashians, are also using the service due to various medical reasons which mean that they cannot carry a pregnancy themselves.
More recently we have also seen singles successfully entering the world of surrogacy, obtaining court orders on the basis they are wanting to start a family but are not in what they consider a stable relationship.
But despite the change in attitudes ‘commercial’ surrogacy remains illegal in the UK. Intended to stop a third party from profiting from the surrogacy process, the UK law which has been in place since 1985 makes it illegal to advertise for a surrogate – meaning unless family or friends offer, intended parents can struggle to find a match.
It is not, however illegal for a surrogate to be paid expenses – non-profit organisations say between £12,000 and £20,000 is the average for such expenses, but there is no limit. This means that many UK couples looking to start a family via surrogacy look to not for profit organisations or even private arrangements often making connections over social media to realise their dream of having a family.
As surrogacy becomes more common, experts say the UK law is outdated and a change is needed to protect those that offer themselves up to carry the child and those desperately seeking to start a family but cannot.
The current law states a surrogate is deemed the legal mother when the baby is born – irrespective of genetics or any agreements that have been made. In order to transfer the legal parentage to the intended or biological parents a parental order must be made to the court.
Parental orders, which transfer legal parentage from the surrogate, rose from 117 in 2011 to 413 in 2020, with two-thirds of applicants from mixed-sex couples often in their 30s or 40s there is no doubt that surrogacy is on the rise.
While the Law Commission is currently undertaking a review on surrogacy which is due to conclude in 2022. In the interim and for those that cannot wait please speak to Simon Walker on 01935 813 691 or email firstname.lastname@example.org he can assist you in understanding the law now in relation to you and starting your family by way of surrogacy.