Child Surrogacy and The Law
Child surrogacy is something of a grey area when it comes to what people know and what people believe they know about its legality. It is important for those considering using surrogacy as an option that they are aware exactly of the nature of the process and also how the law stands on the practice of child surrogacy.
Is Child Surrogacy Legal?The simple answer to this question is no. In the United Kingdom it is not legal to advertise or engage in the practice of child surrogacy. The law presumes that child surrogacy takes place on the basis that money will change hands as a result of one woman bearing a child and giving up that child to another woman who cannot have children herself.
Although the practice is illegal in the eyes of the law, a number of women each year do bear children for other couples who cannot have children of their own. This normally happens because IVF treatment has either failed or is too expensive for the couple to undertake.
How is Surrogacy Defined Legally?Surrogacy is defined as one woman – referred to as the 'mother' – having intercourse or medical treatment in order to achieve pregnancy for the purposes of another woman. The law says that the surrogate mother, whether she conceived the child by natural means or by the use of artificial methods, is still the natural birth mother and therefore has parental responsibility.
Who is the Child's Father?The assumption is that the father of the surrogate child would be the man who helped conceive the child. However, this is not straightforward, especially if the woman bearing the child is married herself. In this instance, the law is very definite that the husband of the woman bearing the child is the father. The only exception to this is if he does not consent to having his name on the Birth Certificate.
The same is also true of same sex relationships. If the surrogate mother is in a civil partnership, in the eyes of the law her partner will be recognised as the child's second partner.
If it transpires that the husband of the woman bearing the child does not want to be named as the child's father – which is normally the case in surrogate cases – then the man who helped conceive the child should and is allowed by law to be named on the birth certificate.
Voluntary SurrogacyThough surrogacy is illegal in the UK, 'woman A' can volunteer to carry a child for 'woman B' as long as no money is involved. That said, there are no agencies in the UK who would broker or arrange the meeting of two such women. There are support groups who can offer help and advice on the subject, but they cannot and do not offer to make introductions between those able to have children and those wanting to have children.
Could We Pay Expenses For the Mother if We Had A Surrogate Baby?There is what is referred to as 'reasonable expenses' which many see as being a way to pay the woman bearing the child for that responsibility. It is negligible as to what constitutes 'reasonable expenses' but that element of the law should not be abused.
For further information, contact a surrogacy support group, details of which can be found on the internet.