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Surrogacy in the UK

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The path to parenthood isn’t always as simple as many people envision it will be. Unfortunately, there can be problems that arise and make it difficult, or impossible, for couples or individuals to have a baby. Surrogacy is when a woman carries and gives birth to a baby for another person or couple. It is an option for couples who can’t conceive naturally.

What is surrogacy?


Surrogacy involves a woman becoming pregnant and giving birth to a baby for a couple who want to have a child but can’t. The surrogate is the woman who carries and gives birth to the child for the intended parent(s).


Examples of medical conditions that might make surrogacy necessary include absence or malformation of the womb, recurrent pregnancy loss, or repeated IVF implantation failures.


Surrogacy is also required for same-sex male couples who need a surrogate to carry their baby.



How much does surrogacy cost in the UK?


It is illegal to pay a surrogate in the UK. The only financial responsibility you have towards the surrogate is reimbursing them for any reasonable expenses which may occur during her pregnancy, such as travel expenses to appointments and any loss of potential earnings.


Although the expenses will vary depending on personal circumstances, it is estimated that the cost of having a baby through surrogacy in the UK is typically around £10,000 – £15,000. If you are considering surrogacy, it is important to keep potential costs in mind and note that extra expenses may apply if your surrogate is having twins.



How does surrogacy work?


The types of surrogacy arrangements available to you and what you choose will depend on your personal circumstances. There are two different types of surrogacy that parents-to-be can choose from, these are as follows:


Full Surrogacy: This is also known as host or gestational surrogacy and is when the intended parent uses her own eggs for conception. In cases of full or gestational surrogacy, there is no genetic connection between the baby and the surrogate. This is why many people prefer full surrogacy.


Partial Surrogacy: This is known as straight or traditional surrogacy and involves fertilising the surrogate’s egg with the intended father’s sperm. As a result, the surrogate will be the biological mother of the child. If you choose partial surrogacy as a way to start or grow your family, it is important that all fertility treatment is carried out at a licensed UK fertility clinic.



Surrogacy UK law


One of the most common questions we get asked is, is surrogacy legal in the UK? And the answer is yes, surrogacy is legal in the UK. However, it is important to note that if you make a surrogacy agreement it cannot be enforced by law. There can be complicated legal issues involved in any surrogacy agreement. Therefore, we strongly advise that you seek independent legal advice before seeking a surrogate arrangement.



Who will be the legal parent at the birth?


When the child is born through surrogacy, the surrogate will be the child’s legal parent at birth until this right is transferred to the chosen parents-to-be by parental order or adoption after the child is born.


However, surrogacy law states that in the unlikely event of a disagreement at the child’s birth as to who the legal parents should be, the courts will decide what is best in the interests of the child.



Are there any surrogacy risks?


If you are undergoing treatment for infertility, there are some risks you should be aware of, namely the risk of transferring infectious diseases to the surrogate. At TFP, we avoid this problem by carrying out thorough screenings before treatments begin. This provides peace of mind that any infections will not be passed onto the surrogate or the baby at the time of conception or during pregnancy.



Who is surrogacy for?


Surrogacy is a popular choice for couples or individuals who are unable to conceive naturally. This could be for a number of different reasons, including medical conditions that make it dangerous or impossible to conceive naturally. Surrogacy is for people struggling with the following medical conditions:


  • Recurrent pregnancy loss

  • Absence or malformation of the womb

  • Repeated IVF implantation failures

  • Individuals with a genetic defect or health condition that they don’t want to pass onto their child

  • Life-threatening illness that prevents pregnancy


Male same-sex intended parents use surrogacy in the UK when they are wishing to have families of their own. This would be with the addition of egg donation from either an altruistic or known donor. Surrogacy is also an option for single individuals who cannot conceive naturally, whether due to their gender or a medical reason.




The success rates of surrogacy


Surrogacy success rates depend on many factors, including:

  • The surrogate’s ability to get pregnant

  • The quality of the father’s or donor’s sperm

  • The success of the IUI, IVF or ICSI assisted reproduction treatments

  • The age of the woman whose eggs are being used


When it comes to fertility success, the age of the egg provider is the most important factor as it greatly affects the chances of successful conception and successful pregnancy.



The benefits of a surrogacy arrangement


Intended parents come from all different backgrounds and experiences. Some are hopeful single parents, others are same-sex couples, while others have struggled with infertility for years. Whatever their background, intended parents all have one desire in common - to add to their families. For these people and many more, surrogacy makes those dreams of family a reality. The advantages of surrogacy are numerous:


  • Surrogacy allows people to have a family who would otherwise have been unable to.

  • Gestational surrogacy allows one or both parents to be genetically related to their child.

  • Surrogacy allows intended parents to raise a child from birth.

  • Surrogates have usually carried other pregnancies and have a proven uterus, meaning their chances of successfully conceiving and carrying a pregnancy are high.

  • Surrogacy gives intended parents the unique opportunity to form a relationship with the surrogate and her family.

  • Intended parents are generally involved throughout the pregnancy and are often able to be present for many of the key milestones.


While surrogacy is not without its challenges, it can be the answer for many people struggling to have a family of their own.



Contact us to discuss surrogacy further


Surrogacy can give you the chance to have the family you’ve always dreamed of. There are many decisions to make before pursuing surrogacy, and, for all of its advantages, it is not right for everyone. We have a team of fertility specialists who are able to talk you through every aspect of your surrogacy journey. So, if you would like to have a surrogacy discussion with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch today. We would be more than happy to discuss your requirements and advise on whether surrogacy is the right decision for you.



Who can help with surrogate arrangements?


Couples or individuals are not allowed to advertise for surrogates, or for surrogates to advertise their services. However, there are introduction agencies who can help with practical advice and support:



Brilliant beginnings: www.brilliantbeginnings.co.uk


COTS – Surrogacy in the UK: www.surrogacy.org.uk


Surrogacy UK: www.surrogacyuk.org



Pre-treatment requirements


  • Counselling


    Discussions with a counsellor are required for you, your surrogate, and you and your surrogate together. There are lots of emotional and practical issues surrounding surrogacy for all parties, and couples have indicated that counselling is very helpful in identifying potential issues that they hadn’t previously considered. The joint session for you and your surrogate will include discussions around the agreement between the surrogate and intended parents.


  • Legal advice


    It is highly recommended that independent legal advice is taken by all surrogacy parties to fully explore their individual circumstances and the issues explained above.


  • Screening tests


    All parties have to undergo screening tests. They help to ensure that infection risks are minimised for everyone and that some common genetic risks are identified if they’re present. Overall, these tests are undertaken to protect the welfare of everyone involved in the surrogacy arrangements and importantly any child that may be born. For details of the tests required for surrogacy arrangements, please contact the clinic. An individualised requirement table will be provided at surrogacy consultation appointments.


  • Welfare of the child check


    The background and health of the intended parents are considered in an assessment of a future child’s welfare. This is a requirement set by the HFEA.


  • Quarantine of sperm


    Donor sperm must be quarantined for a minimum of 180 days, after which repeat serological testing is required. If the blood sample taken at the time of donation is additionally tested by the nucleic acid amplification technique (NAT) for HIV, HBV and HCV, the donor sperm must be quarantined for a minimum of three months, after which a further donor blood sample should be taken and subjected to repeat serological and NAT testing.

Testimonial

We absolutely love being parents and owe it all to our surrogate, our egg donor and the amazing care we received at Wessex Fertility.

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