Surrogacy treatment in the UK has grown rapidly over the past few years and more and more people are choosing the surrogacy route in order to create their families. If you are a heterosexual couple, gay couple or a single person then surrogacy may be something that you consider when planning a family – it can take place either at home or at a fertility clinic and this will usually be a decision made by all involved with regards to what will work best for your surrogacy team.
There are 2 main surrogacy treatment types – straight surrogacy and host surrogacy.
In straight surrogacy, your surrogate will act as both the gestational carrier and the egg donor and a male IP (Intended Parent) will provide sperm in order to achieve the pregnancy. This is often carried out through home insemination and a male IP will provide sperm at the most fertile time for the surrogate – usually through self-insemination.
Straight surrogacy can also take place at a fertility clinic and embryos will be created in vitro (IVF) with the surrogate’s eggs and a male IP’s sperm. The surrogate will then have an embryo transfer. When straight surrogacy takes place though a clinic, there are a number of tests and investigations that the surrogate and the IP will undergo and both the surrogate and IP will be screened and registered as gamete donors with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)
The other surrogacy option that people may proceed with host surrogacy. With host surrogacy, embryos are created in vitro (IVF) with either the eggs of an intended mother (IM) or an egg donor, and the sperm of an Intended father (IF). Embryos will be created and your surrogate will undergo the embryo transfer. As above, the people providing their eggs and sperm will need to undergo a number of tests and investigations an dbe registered with the HFEA as a donor. Your surrogate will also be required to have some screening tests.
When creating embryos for surrogacy through a clinic, you will be required to quarantine the sperm or embryos for a minimum of 3 months before you can use them for treatment with your surrogate. Some transmissible infections have an incubation period which is why a quarantine period is required.
If your surrogacy cycle is successful then your surrogate can see her GP to arrange her ante-natal care. Once your surrogate gives birth, then you can apply to the courts for a parental order so that you can become the legal parent of your child. Currently, your surrogate and her partner (if she has one) will be the legal parent of your child from birth until the court issues you with a parental order. The criteria to obtain a parental order includes:
- That at least one of the IP’s has a genetic link to the child
- That at least one IP is domiciled in the UK
- The IP is over 18 years of age
- The surrogate consents to the parental order application
If your surrogate is single, then she can nominate an IP to be the legal parent at birth.
You will need to consider putting together a surrogacy agreement between you all before proceeding with the treatment cycle, this is to ensure that you cover all aspects prior to conception including expenses to your surrogate, what would happen in the event of a miscarriage, what may happen in the case of an emergency c section and skin to skin contact. There are lots of other things to consider and surrogacy organisations may be able to help with this. It is also a good idea to seek legal advice from a specialist family lawyer who may be able to advise on what your agreement should include, but you need to be aware that the agreement is not legally binding.
When considering surrogacy treatment – you may find the following government publications useful when planning your journey: Having a child through surrogacy >
This content on Surrogacy was provided by Francesca Steyn RGN
Francesca is a Fertility Nurse Consultant with a special interest in Surrogacy and LGBTQ+ parenting options. She has held senior positions at a number of fertility clinics and was awarded surrogacy professional of the year in 2018 and 2019. Francesca is a steering committee member for the Royal College of Nurses Fertility Nursing Forum and was also an active member of the Senior Infertility Nurses Group.