Safety and security: why British parents choose surrogacy in the USA

The USA is consistently the most popular international surrogacy destination for British and UK-resident intended parents.  According to English Family Court statistics, around a hundred children each year born through US surrogacy are granted a UK parental order to secure their parentage and British nationality.  This makes the US the place of birth for around half of all children granted UK parental orders following international surrogacy, with other half born across dozens of different and constantly shifting destinations.   

Why is the US so popular for British and UK-resident intended parents?


It is legally secure


The law relating to parentage following surrogacy in the US is determined state by state, but most US states are surrogacy friendly (with only three in which surrogacy is restricted or prohibited and a further six where people should be cautious about finding a surrogate match), which means the US offers established law recognising surrogacy arrangements.  An experienced US surrogacy agency will never match intended parents from overseas with a surrogate who lives in a state where they cannot proceed safely. 

Having a secure legal framework gives everyone legal certainty. The surrogacy contract (or ‘gestational carrier agreement’) records everyone’s intentions as to who the parents of the child will be, and ultimately enables the US birth certificate to record the intended parents as their child’s legal parents. The language of the surrogate being a ‘gestational carrier’ reflects that the surrogate is not biologically connected to the child (unlike traditional or straight surrogacy where the surrogate provides her egg). The agreement is an important document which enables everyone’s expectations to be agreed upfront in a transparent way. It is a source of stability and security for the surrogate as well as for the intended parents.

For UK-based or British parents, there is also a separate UK legal process that needs to be followed to secure their status as a family for the purposes of UK law.  Find out more about this from our sibling organisation NGA Law. 


It is a well-trodden path


Surrogacy is an accepted way of building a family in the US.  Surrogacy professionals, some who have decades of experience, can match intended parents with suitable surrogates and steer everyone throughout their journey together.  The standards of quality in fertility treatment are high, resulting in high success rates.  Egg and sperm donors are available if needed, with detailed information available for both intended parents and ultimately their child.  Surrogacy is culturally acceptable, being more common in the US than in most other countries which means there is less need to educate other professionals and those involved in journey, for example when dealing with the delivery hospital to make arrangements for the birth.  Hospitals as well as insurance brokers have good experience of surrogacy.  


It is ethical and offers protection to surrogates


Reputable and established surrogacy agencies in the US have rigorous processes for screening surrogate candidates. This safeguards surrogates who are then well prepared, supported and protected.  Intended parents can be confident of the ethics of any surrogacy arrangement they are entering into. 

Intended parents typically develop a close personal bond with their US surrogate, and for most this extends beyond the surrogacy journey itself.  In research conducted by Brilliant Beginnings with Cambridge University in 2018, more than 95% of the UK parents surveyed had maintained relationships with their US surrogate after the surrogacy process had ended.  The normalisation of virtual communication over the past few years has enabled relationships to be natural and organic, even if parents and surrogates are physically distant from each other for much of the surrogacy process. 


It is open to all family types


The US surrogacy framework is inclusive of parents regardless of sexual orientation, gender, relationship status or biological connection.  It is a particularly popular option for gay dads, transgender and single parents given that there are few other safe surrogacy options available to them globally, and because parents can be open and honest about their personal situation in the surrogacy process.   


The ease of experience after the birth


British parents with children born through international surrogacy will need to navigate the immigration pathways and the logistics around travelling home with their new baby after the birthThe US offers a more seamless option than most other international surrogacy destinations because all children born in the US are entitled to a US passport, which is issued quickly and gives visa-free access to many other countries (including the UK and the most common countries of residence for British expatriates)While UK parents still need to make a court application to fully resolve their status and their child’s British nationality, in practice US surrogacy offers a much quicker route home after the birth than most other international surrogacy options  


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