Surrogacy, Three Years On

Tomorrow my twins will turn three years old.  As the months since they were born are starting to roll in to years, I’m feeling more removed from our surrogacy experience.  Life is moving on, and it’s only natural for me to feel reflective at this time of year. surrogacy wordcloud It’s felt good to share our journey and I am still actively following the progress of surrogacy in the UK and around the world.

Surrogacy seems to have become very normalised within the world of celebrity, and there have been many recent surro-birth announcements in the US, joining such luminaries as Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert DeNiro and Ricky Martin. Elton John and David Furnish had their second son in January 2013, Giuliana Rancic had her son in August 2012 and is reportedly trying for her second surrogate child, and let’s not forget Caprice who gave birth herself within weeks of welcoming her surrogate-born baby in August 2013.

Strangely, although there was much hype in the press around the time of our twin daughters’ birth, more recently surrogacy has become a relatively quiet topic.  Although some progress has been made to regulate surrogacy and create a fairer legal process, mostly change in the last few years has been minimal. Continue reading “Surrogacy, Three Years On” »

Surrogacy Book Review: Love Child – Our Surrogate Baby

By Rona Walker (Bloomsbury, 1990)

You can probably tell by the hair styles in the book jacket photo that these guys were some of the earlier UK pioneers of modern surrogacy!  Rona Walker (not her real name) was expecting her first baby when disaster struck – tragically her baby was born prematurely and did not survive, and she subsequently suffered a severe postpartum hemorrhage which led to a hysterectomy.  She and her husband were devastated, and it wasn’t long before she looked to surrogacy as a way to create their longed-for family.  Continue reading “Surrogacy Book Review: Love Child – Our Surrogate Baby” »

Surrogate mum’s ‘equal rights’

The debate continues in the UK…should the same maternity rights be awarded to women who become mothers through surrogacy as for women who become mothers naturally or through adoption?  Well, I for one can’t think of a single reason why on earth not.  Can you?

Shoshanna Berkley on ITV News

At the moment a mother through surrogacy is not entitled to any leave – paid or otherwise - until she has a parental order in place.  Then she is only entitled to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave.  Continue reading “Surrogate mum’s ‘equal rights’” »

Surrogacy Maternity Leave Tribunal

Definitely some winds of change taking place on surrogacy in the UK.  Finally someone has put their head above the parapet and demanded equal rights as a new mother to maternity leave.  A Newcastle Employment tribunal has referred the case to the European Court of Justice in order to consider whether a mother through surrogacy has a right to paid maternity leave to bond with her baby, establish breast-feeding and develop her family life.  The claimant feels that the law should encompass new mothers and not just gestational mothers, and given that she looked after the baby from an hour old and breast-fed for three months, many would think it was hard to disagree. Continue reading “Surrogacy Maternity Leave Tribunal” »

British Birth Certificates for USA-born Surrogate Babies

usa british flagWell it took nearly a year, but our surrogate twins finally got their British Birth Certificates issued last week.  Unlike when a baby is born naturally, it isn’t simply a case of applying to the registrar and filling a in a form.  Continue reading “British Birth Certificates for USA-born Surrogate Babies” »

Surrogacy Maternity Leave Inequality

“If you and your husband, wife or partner are having a child through surrogacy you will not normally be eligible for statutory maternity or adoption leave. However you will be eligible for unpaid parental leave once you have got a parental order.” So says the DirectGov website advice on Maternity Leave.

Why?  There is clearly a level of discrimination taking place here.  Having a child, a baby, through whatever means…giving birth, adopting or with the help of a surrogate mother, should be considered equal upon the baby’s arrival and the family should be supported by Government policy. Continue reading “Surrogacy Maternity Leave Inequality” »

Legal Parents! Our Surrogacy UK Parental Order Granted

Family photo Parental Order at High Court
Feeling Happy! Outside the UK High Court after being granted our Parental Order

We are feeling so happy as today we became our children’s parents.  Sounds kind of strange, but until today my biological children, our little twins, were not considered legally our children because they were born with the help of a gestational surrogate.  British law recognises the surrogate mother as the legal mother, and if she is married or co-habiting, her husband or partner as the legal father.  No matter that we are the biological parents, or that when they were born in the USA we were issued US birth certificates for our babies which clearly name us as the only parents. Continue reading “Legal Parents! Our Surrogacy UK Parental Order Granted” »

Couple who used Indian surrogates can bring children up as their own rules judge

Couple who used Indian surrogates can bring children up as their own rules judge – Telegraph

Childless couple allowed to keep babies born through Indian surrogate – Telegraph

In summary, a British couple paid Indian surrogates to give birth to their children and have just been granted parental orders in the British High Court.

Once in a while these stories appear in the national press, but interestingly parental orders are issued to UK parents of international surrogate babies much more often than is reported.  At our first hearing in the High Court we were one of three couples appearing that day requesting parental orders!

However, this is the first time I am aware of where a surrogacy arrangement in India has been publicly granted a parental order.  The Judge, in this case Sir Nicholas Wall, has to feel confident that the amount paid would not ’overbear the will of the surrogate’, and this can be more questionable in India due to the low average earnings.

Nonetheless, parental orders have been duly granted and above all, the welfare of the children was again considered paramount in an echo of similar cases where Justice Hedley has published similar outcomes.  All good news for British couples looking in to international surrogacy to overcome infertility.

 

International Surrogacy Conference in Aberdeen

There was a Hague Conference at the end of August at the University of Aberdeen to debate international convention on surrogacy, not dissimilar to the Child Abduction and Adoption conventions. There were practitioners and academics attending…I wonder if any surrogates or Intended Parents were actually there? I suspect people who have been through it on a personal level would have much to add to the debate – at the end of the day it’s about creating families and it can be hard to remove the emotive element when considering what to do to create international understanding. Continue reading “International Surrogacy Conference in Aberdeen” »