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Put simply, Surrogacy is when another woman carries and gives birth to a child for you. Though it can be a legally complex and emotionally intense arrangement, it is growing in popularity for couples struggling to have a child and can offer an individual or couple the chance to have their own family.

Why would someone choose surrogacy?

  • Recurrent miscarriage

  • The woman may have a health condition which makes carrying and giving birth to a child very dangerous

  • Same sex relationships

  • Hysterectomy

  • Fertility treatments such as IVF have failed

There are two types of surrogacy; traditional and gestational.

With traditional surrogacy the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the intended father’s or donor’s sperm. The surrogate not only carries the child but she also donates her egg and as such she is biologically related to the child.

Gestational surrogacy is quite different because the surrogate is implanted with an embryo via IVF and therefore she is not biologically related to the child. Often the sperm and egg of the intended parents will be used, which means that the child will be biologically theirs. Donor egg and/ or sperm can be used if this is not possible.

It has always been legal to enter into a surrogacy arrangement in the UK. However, UK surrogacy arrangements require a great deal of trust between the parties because surrogacy agreements are unenforceable. It is also illegal for any third party, including a solicitor, to draft a surrogacy agreement.

The law in the UK leads many parents to worry about what might happen if the surrogate decides that they want to keep the baby. In addition many surrogates worry about receiving any agreed payment and what should happen if the intended parents fail to take responsibility for the baby post birth. In reality problems rarely arise, but these questions should be considered and we would advise lengthy discussions between the surrogate and the intended parents. Ensuring that everyone has similar expectations at the outset can reduce the scope for conflict later down the line