Matching for UK surrogacy online

Online surrogacy communities have grown over the past 10-15 years, particularly via Facebook groups. However, independent surrogacy online is not the main or only way to do surrogacy in the UK.  Some surrogacy teams are formed between existing friends  or family members, or matches via non-profit UK surrogacy agencies and organisations (of which Brilliant Beginnings is one).  It is also possible to mix and match, for example to meet independently but then to access support from a surrogacy agency.

Why do people match for UK surrogacy online?

Many UK women considering becoming surrogates do a lot of their own research as a first step. The online surrogacy forums and independent surrogacy communities are often a good place to start and offer a lot of informal advice and information. Some surrogates continue their journeys in online communities because they consciously decide they do not need professional support, for example if they have been surrogates before and can draw on their existing knowledge and experience.  Others simply continue with surrogacy online because it feels like the natural thing to do, or because they are not even aware that there are other – professionally supported – surrogacy options available.

For intended parents, the decision to match for surrogacy independently online may not be entirely a choice. The number of intended parents being taken on by the non-profit organisations is small because there is a shortage of UK surrogates and it is difficult for surrogacy organisations to meet the demand from intended parents, especially if they use a screening process which by definition creates a smaller pool of surrogates for them to match. Intended parents who don’t have the budget for a US surrogacy journey and don’t like the lack of ethical and legal framework elsewhere in the world often turn to online forums to look for a surrogate themselves.

How do we know each other is genuine if we have met for surrogacy online?

One of the risks of independent surrogacy is that there are few in-built safeguards. That puts more onus on you to do your own checks, build trust and reassure yourselves that the other person is suitable and a good match for you. You should spend a good amount of time getting to know each other to build a solid relationship, and make sure you feel confident in each other. It is also sensible to ask for:

  • a DBS check (for the intended parents, surrogate and anyone in either household who is over 18);
  • photographic ID for everyone to confirm identity and verify eligibility for NHS care;
  • a letter from the surrogate’s GP stating that she is fit and healthy and they see no reason why she can’t become pregnant as a surrogate;
  • if you are not working with a fertility clinic, blood tests to make sure that there are no communicable diseases that can be passed onto the surrogate or the baby (if you are working with a fertility clinic they will conduct medical screening and will usually offer counselling as well).

We would also suggest you arrange legal advice, and (if this isn’t provided by your fertility clinic) implications counselling. Find out more about getting prepared for surrogacy.


How much time should a surrogate and intended parents spend getting to know each other if they meet online?

It is advisable to spend at least a few months getting to know one another and building a relationship before you put in place a surrogacy agreement or start treatment. This is particularly important where a surrogacy organisation has not done the background legwork for you. 

In this time, we would suggest that you take your time to start discussing important and sometimes difficult topics such as what you hope your relationship will look like during your journey, as well as after baby has arrived, everyone’s thoughts around termination and what everyone’s hopes are around the delivery. Making sure that you are all aligned on key areas early on will help you all to know what the plan is should something go wrong.

How do we put together a surrogacy agreement as an independent surrogacy team?

A surrogacy agreement in the UK is not legally binding, but it is nonetheless an important document which records your hopes and intentions for your journey together, as well as your expectations and what you have agreed. You can read more about what a surrogacy agreement should cover if you are doing this yourselves, or seek support from one of the UK’s non-profit surrogacy organisations.

How do expenses work for independent surrogacy in the UK?

Money is very often the hardest thing for surrogacy teams to talk about, and the most common area where problems arise later.  In independent surrogacy, the onus is on you to talk about the money side of things and to resolve any tensions later, whereas if you work with an organisation they can take some of the burden of that away from you by costing out the expenses and any compensation in advance.  It is always important to make sure that the surrogate is not left out of pocket, but over and above that you should think about what the surrogate and her family need to make it possible for them to act as a surrogate. Find out more about how much a UK surrogate can receive.

Do independent surrogacy arrangements often go wrong in the UK?  Is it safer to work with an agency?

As long as you set things up in the right way, there is no reason for independent journeys to go wrong. However, if there is a breakdown in communication during the surrogacy process for any reason, an independent surrogacy team does not have the safety net of professional support to fall back on to help resolve the issues.

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