How do I find a surrogate in the UK?
Surrogacy is legal in the UK but the law prohibits third parties from matching for profit and stops individuals advertising for surrogates, so finding a surrogate can be challenging. The UK’s outdated surrogacy laws on parenthood also treat the surrogate as the legal mother and her spouse as the second legal parent before the parental order is made. As a result of all these issues, there is generally a shortage of surrogates in the UK so you will need to be realistic about managing timescale expectations.
Realistically, your options in the UK to find a surrogate are:
- A non-profit surrogacy organisation or agency – the main three in the UK being our sister organisation Brilliant Beginnings, COTS and Surrogacy UK. All operate slightly differently so familiarise yourself with how each works before making a choice.
- A friend or family member – you may have not discussed your plans with those around you (understandably so given the sensitivity) but do give it some consideration. We have helped many intended parents whose surrogate has been a family member, family friend, work colleague etc.
- An independent surrogate found via social media or the internet – there are many websites and closed Facebook groups where intended parents and UK surrogates find each other. Independent surrogacy arrangements can be successful arrangements but there is much less screening and support than if you work with an organisation. We would always advise that you get to know your surrogate before moving forward, follow all the same steps you would follow if working with an organisation and seek legal advice before progressing your plans.
If you are unable to find a surrogate in the UK then you may be considering international surrogacy options. We can help you with understanding the legal implications if you are thinking of going overseas.
Do I need to put in place a surrogacy agreement?
If you find a surrogate in the UK then it is advisable to put a surrogacy agreement in place. This is not a legal requirement and surrogacy agreements are unenforceable under UK law. However, they are still very important since they give intended parents and surrogates the opportunity to discuss the issues which might arise along the way and be absolutely clear about financial arrangements and other things at the outset of your arrangement. We are also finding that more and more clinics are insisting that intended parents and surrogates have these agreement in place before they move forward with treatment (even though this is not a legal requirement).
If you do not work with one of the non-for-profit organisations (which will help you to do this) you may find it helpful to look at ‘The Surrogacy Pathway’. Guidance which has been prepared by the Department of Health (with assistance from Brilliant Beginnings and NGA Law). This contains some information about surrogacy agreements and may give you some ideas about what to include. Whatever your agreement records it must reflect what is important to you all and you all feel comfortable in moving forward before proceeding with treatment.
As well as putting a surrogacy agreement in place, it is sensible for you and your surrogate to put a Will in place and to take out life insurance for your surrogate (to cover the legal position just in case anyone dies unexpectedly). Again, these are not mandatory requirements but sensible to set things up in the best possible way at the outset of your arrangement.
If you would like legal advice about your surrogacy plans or would like to make a surrogacy-specific Will, please contact us for more information about how we can help. If you would like practical guidance on the options for UK and international surrogacy, you may also want to contact our sister organisation Brilliant Beginnings.
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