Surrogacy FAQs: Kerry Katona raised some common queries on C4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch
On Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch (19th October 2021), Kerry Katona and her partner Ryan spoke with Helen Prosser, one of the founders of Brilliant Beginnings, and a BB surrogate and parents team who had been through surrogacy in the UK. During the segment, Kerry and Ryan explored how surrogacy works and explored their initial questions from the very start of a surrogacy journey.
For intended parents considering surrogacy and women thinking of being surrogates, surrogacy can feel very daunting, but supporting surrogates and intended parents is what we are all about here at Brilliant Beginnings, so here are some answers to the most common questions from those starting out.
Is surrogacy in the UK legal?
Surrogacy in the UK is absolutely legal. Whoever gives birth to a baby is the legal mother at birth, and if she is married then her husband, wife or civil partner is the other legal parent. To change this to what everyone wants (the intended parents to be the legal parents), the intended parents need to apply to the family court for a parental order. There are criteria that need to be met, including the surrogate’s consent, but if things are set up properly from the beginning the process is straightforward. It is a well-trodden path and the number of parental orders the courts grant is now approaching 500 a year!
One thing to make absolutely clear is that from birth the intended parents will be the ones looking after their baby, and they will go home with their baby when they are discharged. Resolving their legal status is something that happens alongside this and does not get on the way of life as a new family.
What if the surrogate changes her mind?
It is natural for intended parents to worry that a surrogate could change her mind and want to keep their baby. The reality is that this just does not happen. Surrogates become surrogates to create families, not extend their own. In fact we often hear that for surrogates the idea of looking after another new-born is one of their biggest worries. They worry that the intended parents will change their mind and decide they don’t want the baby! Whilst there can be lots of things to consider for both intended parents and surrogates when embarking on surrogacy, and it may not be the right choice for everyone, with information and support, the reality is that once committed to a surrogacy journey, the idea of anyone changing their minds is pretty much inconceivable.
How do I find someone to help?
One of the most daunting aspects of surrogacy for intended parents is finding a surrogate to help. The numbers of intended parents are far higher than surrogates offering to help, and this can often mean a long wait to find a surrogate. 12-18 months would not be an unrealistic wait for intended parents here in the UK, and this wait, as well as the better legal framework, is often what leads them to consider options such as the US where wait times are significantly quicker, but costs are higher (£150k+).
For surrogates the choice is more about the way they want to be matched and the ongoing support they are looking for after that. Once a surrogate is ready there is no wait for them to be matched here at Brilliant Beginnings. At Brilliant Beginnings we match one to one, and this involves getting to know both surrogates and intended parents and then matching them based on the type of journey they are looking for, and their views on key things like termination and communication. Our experienced team take pride in getting this right for everyone, and nothing is better than hearing surrogates and intended parents say that the match feels perfect. Surrogates and intended parents who come to us put great trust in us to get this right, and to be there for them at each and every stage.
Outside Brilliant Beginnings there are independent groups and online forums for surrogates and intended parents to meet, and also community organisations that can help in different ways here in the UK. For both intended parents and surrogates, it is important to research how each operates and how they will support and match you and that this works for you.
How do intended parents create embryos?
For intended parents who need to create embryos the good news is that clinics in the UK commonly offer treatment for surrogacy, and can help you create embryos with this in mind. There will be infectious disease testing and counselling to safeguard everyone, and whilst there may be a wait for an egg donor if you need one, clinics will have services to help with identifying one to help you. They may have links to a bank of frozen eggs so things can move quickly if needed. Surrogates are usually quite keen to get going with their surrogacy journey, so making sure that embryos are ready for when intended parents are matched is a good idea. Embryos can always be moved to a clinic more local to your surrogate, which in turn makes the treatment for her more manageable alongside her family life.
How much will it cost?
Surrogates should not be out of pocket at any stage. A key part of our support here at Brilliant Beginnings is our surrogate managers (who are surrogates themselves) helping a surrogate work through her unique expenses.
At the time of match we make sure that the intended parents are fully aware of and happy with these and also understand that at no time should a surrogate be at a financial disadvantage.
A surrogate’s expenses could encompass many things including provision for days out or a holiday with her family, as well as extra things like massage or cleaning that she may have found useful in her own pregnancies. Whilst there is a wide range of exactly what expenses might be, this often falls between £12k-£25k.
For intended parents the other costs they need to budget for will depend largely on their unique circumstances. A sensible overall budget for surrogacy in the UK would be between £40k-£60k. This would include clinical and legal costs, surrogate expenses, and help from a UK organisation such as Brilliant Beginnings.
How BB can help you on your surrogacy journey
Surrogacy can feel daunting but talking to others that have lived and/or professional experience of surrogacy can be hugely helpful and dispel some of the myths. With the right information and support along the way, surrogacy can be a truly wonderful journey to be part of.
One of our brilliant Surrogates once said it perfectly: ‘Not only do I get to help someone become a parent, I help to create a nan, a granddad, an uncle’.
Creating families is difficult, but absolutely worth it!
If you are an intended parent considering surrogacy and want to learn more about how it works and the options available we can talk to you about everything you need to know to inform your choice – learn more about our pathways and options review.
If you are a woman considering becoming a surrogate our surrogate managers are here to talk you through everything and support you on these first steps to doing something truly brilliant.