International surrogacy has been a popular way to adopt children in the UK for quite some time, but it’s not as simple as it seems. Here’s why…
When you’re deciding whether to undergo surrogacy domestically or abroad, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. National surrogacy has its limitations and international surrogacy is another thing altogether.
Whichever option you choose you’ll likely need a knowledgeable family law firm to walk you through the process so the child can be made legally yours.
In this post, we’re going to discuss surrogacy in the UK, how it differs from international surrogacy, and share our deliberations on which one you should go for.
How Does National Surrogacy Work?
Surrogacy is technically legal in the UK, but any surrogacy agreement you make cannot be enforced by the law. The only reason to create a surrogacy agreement is so the intended parents and surrogate can record how they want the arrangement to work.
The surrogate of the child is the legal parent until you either file a parental order or adopt the child once they’ve been born. Parental orders can be applied on your own or with a partner, but one of you has to be related to the child genetically to do so.
If you apply with a partner you have to be either:
- Civil partners
- Living as partners
You also have to have the child living with you, reside permanently in either the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man, and you need to apply for one within 6 months of the child’s birth.
If neither you or your partner are related to the child, adoption is the only way you can become the child’s legal parent. To adopt a child, you need the full consent of both birth parents, and the child has to be under the age of 18.
How is International Surrogacy Different from National?
Now that we know how national surrogacy works in the UK, it’s time to look at how it differs from international surrogacy.
If your surrogate gives birth abroad, you can apply for a parental order if you’re related to them, the same way you can if they’re born in the UK. Outside of that, the typical adoption rules we laid out above also apply.
The main difference between national and international surrogacy is that there is no international regulation of surrogacy.
With no international regulation, you’re basically subject to the laws of the country you’re adopting the child from. These laws are shaped by history, culture and social values that can differ greatly from each other.
The most prominent dividing line on surrogacy laws is between the EU and other countries:
- The EU have a total ban on surrogacy because they see it as violating the dignity of women.
- Russia and the US allow surrogacy to be commercialised and see it as an expression of the woman’s autonomy.
With the laws on surrogacy varying widely from country to country, international surrogacy can be a minefield for parents. Even once the parents have gone abroad to collect the child, they still have to bring them back to the UK and go through the adoption process.
With that in mind, you should seek specialist independent legal advice both in the UK and in the other country before making any arrangements if you plan on undergoing international surrogacy.
Which Type of Surrogacy is Best For Me?
The choice between national and international surrogacy is pretty cut and dry if you’re looking for the least complicated way to become a legal parent.
National surrogacy means you have to go through a parental order or adoption which can be a complex process in itself. International surrogacy requires you to do that as well as conform to the laws of the country you adopt your child from.
If you factor in potentially poor healthcare from the country you adopt from, the cost of paying a surrogate in a commercialised system, and the potential that the parent might just take your money and run, you’re better off using a UK surrogate.
Also, with COVID-19 still affecting where Brits can travel abroad and the introduction of vaccine passports, international surrogacy is almost impossible at this present moment.
If your reasons for using an international surrogate are altruistic, i.e. you want to adopt a child from a parent living in terrible conditions to give that child a better life, then international surrogacy makes sense.
In these instances, you need to make sure you’re working with a specialist family lawyer who deals with international surrogacy, knows the process in the country you’re adopting from, and can give you a realistic idea of whether you are even able to go through with it.
Which Option Will you Go For?
In this post, we’ve discussed how surrogacy works in the UK, how this differs from international surrogacy, and which type is best for someone who wants to become a legal parent.
As we said in the last section, the only reason to opt for international surrogacy over national is if you are interested in helping an already-pregnant mother provide a better life for her child.
If you’re looking for a less complicated way to become the legal parent of a surrogate child, national surrogacy is the way to go. Hopefully this article has helped you make your decision, and good luck with your surrogacy.