Bringing surrogate babies home from the US and post-birth issues
Intended parents from overseas whose child is born through surrogacy in the USA will be named on their child’s US birth certificate, and from there they can apply for their child’s US passport (given that any child born in the US is automatically a US citizen). This usually takes a few weeks, and the agency/ attorney, and sometimes a separate passport agent, can provide support.
Getting home safely
Immigration needs careful planning depending on the parents’ home destination. Most families travel using the baby’s US passport initially. The UK has a visa-waiver arrangement with the US which means that US citizen babies can travel to the UK without a visa or UK passport, although since they are not visitors intending to leave within six months, admission at the border will technically be by discretion. The same is true for many other countries.
The logistics of travel also need to be managed. Most parents book fully refundable or flexible tickets so dates can be adjusted depending on the birth date and how long the passport takes to be issued. It is sensible to speak to the airline to make practical arrangements for travelling with a newborn.
Resolving parentage and nationality at home
Although the parents will be recognised as their child’s legal parents in the US, many other countries (including the UK) will not recognise their parental status automatically, and that means that their child may also not inherit their nationality status.
British and UK-resident parents who want to resolve their child’s parentage and/or British nationality will need to take steps after the birth, and most do so via an application to the Family Court for a parental order which is specifically designed for this purpose. In some cases, nationality can be resolved separately, and in all cases parents will need to plan when and how to apply for a British passport for their child. Find out more about UK law following international surrogacy from our sibling organisation NGA Law.
British parents who live outside the UK or have other nationalities may also need to make other legal applications elsewhere, either simultaneously or in succession with the UK legal process. This might be for parentage, nationality or residency visas, depending on the parents’ connections with those countries. Advice from lawyers in all relevant jurisdictions (ideally with lawyers who know each other and can coordinate the overall strategy) is always sensible.
Medical care for US surrogate babies in the UK
Parents who live in the UK should contact their GP before their baby is born to smooth integration into NHS services (including health visitor and other baby support) once they get home. Having done so, registration with the GP should run smoothly and the baby will receive all necessary immunisations once in the UK, even if the legalities around parenthood are not yet fully resolved.
Parents who are employed in the UK are entitled to statutory adoption leave/pay for surrogacy from the date of their child’s birth if they intend to apply for a parental order. Leave following the birth of a child through surrogacy is a form of adoption leave since, like with adoptive parents, parents through surrogacy can choose which of them claims the main surrogacy leave and pay (which is equivalent to maternity leave), with the other of them then being entitled to claim paternity leave/ shared parental leave.
Do UK parents and US surrogates stay in touch?
How the relationship between overseas parents and surrogates in the USA evolves after the birth is always personal, although most surrogacy teams do stay in touch long term. In research conducted by Cambridge University and Brilliant Beginnings in 2018, 95% of U.K. parents had maintained contact with their US surrogate after the end of the surrogacy process (a very similar rate to surrogacies in the UK). In practice communication tends to be quite regular in the early days, as the surrogate is often keen to hear how the baby is doing and whether he or she has settled into life at home, and changes over time as everyone settles back into their own lives.
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How a US surrogacy journey works step by step
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