How risky is UK surrogacy?

Surrogacy is an enormous undertaking which requires trust and collaboration. 

Could my surrogate keep the baby?


For intended parents, entrusting a longed-for child to a surrogate is a huge undertaking.  Many feel in awe of surrogates and struggle to understand why a woman who doesn’t know them would want to help.

It is very common for intended parents to feel anxious about a surrogate changing her mind.  Under UK law, the surrogate is the legal mother of the child she gives birth to, which can make this feel like a very real risk.  This is one of the big factors which drives many parents overseas, since other destinations (such as the USA) offer more certainty, with the law recognising the intended parents as their child’s legal parents from birth.

However, UK surrogacy disputes are incredibly rare in practice.  There have now been thousands of successful UK surrogacy arrangements, and only a handful of cases (typically poorly-crafted arrangements) in which a surrogate has not handed the baby over or has refused consent to the parental order.  Surrogacy disputes are rare because, whatever the law says, surrogates do not see themselves as mothers and do not want someone else’s child; their bond is with the parents rather than with the baby.


As a surrogate, will I be left with the baby?


For surrogates and their partners, the anxiety is mirrored in reverse.  Surrogates, and often even more so their spouses, often worry that the intended parents might have a change of heart and leave them responsible for a child they never expected to have.  Again, the UK legal framework (which makes the surrogate and her spouse the legal parents at birth) heightens this anxiety, even if the risk in reality is very low.


How to manage risk in UK surrogacy


Where disputes do happen, it is often because there has been a significant breakdown in communication between the parents and the surrogate during the pregnancy and steps are not taken quickly to address any issues and get things back on track.  That is why it is so important to take your time to get to know each other and be clear about your mutual expectations at the start, as well as making sure you are well supported in the journey with clearly discussed and agreed parameters.  Working with an agency as an objective third party can be vital in supporting your early discussions as well as giving you back-up to resolve any difficulties quickly if they do arise.

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