The recent case of Re Z involved an application by British intended parents following a surrogacy arrangement in India. Twins were born on the 5th May 2014 and applications for parental orders were submitted on the 1st August 2014.
The issue in this case revolved around the delay in obtaining the twins’ passports which meant that they were not able to travel to Britain for over a year. The intended parents had been forced to return to Britain shortly following the twin’s birth due to employment and health issues. The twins were initially cared for by nannies until their intended father returned to India in February 2015.
The parental order reporter expressed concerns about the twin’s ability to form attachments with their parents in these circumstances. As a result the court had to consider whether the parental order reporter needed to see the children with their intended parents in order for the welfare analysis to be completed.
Practically speaking, because the children were living in India the reporter was not able to see the children nor complete her report until May 2015. This caused a significant delay and the court also has to consider whether section 54(4)(a) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 had been complied with given that the children were not in the intended parent’s care at the time the application was made.
It is often the case in international surrogacy cases that there are excessive delays in obtaining British Passports. However, the court in this case was conscious not to use the making of a parental order, which would have conferred British nationality, as a means of overriding the immigration laws.
This case absolutely highlights the need for specialist family and immigration advice, both in the UK and the country where the child/ children will be born.