Surrogacy is an agreement where a woman will carry a baby for a couple or individual who cannot conceive.

With traditional surrogacy, sperm is inserted into the surrogate and with host surrogacy, an embryo is implanted. Host surrogacy has become more common. The surrogate will carry the baby, give birth and then, if she is still in agreement, hand the baby over to the intended parent(s). 

Who might choose to have a surrogate and why?

Surrogacy is a way that people who cannot conceive themselves, can still be the biological parent or parents of a child. Surrogacy could be an option for a single person, a gay couple or a heterosexual couple who cannot conceive naturally or through IUI or IVF. It’s also a possible option when pregnancy has resulted in many miscarriages because the intended mother has been unable to carry a baby to term, or when there is another medical or physical reason.   

Who might choose to become a surrogate mother?

A woman may choose to become a surrogate mother when she has completed her own family or has no wish to bring up more children at that point in time. In many cases, it’s a feeling of wanting to give other people the chance to become parents that is the driving force to become a surrogate.

In the UK, it is illegal to pay a surrogate, so it is not a means of earning an income. Expenses are provided to the surrogate, such as loss of earnings, maternity clothes and childcare for her own children, so that she is not out of pocket. 

What are the legal implications of surrogacy? 

Although surrogacy is legal in the UK, a surrogacy agreement cannot be enforced by the law. Therefore, the surrogate is the legal parent until she signs the baby over by parental order or adoption to the intended parent(s). If she is married or has a legal partner, they are classed as the other parent, until the baby is signed over to the intended parents. This is the case, even if the intended couple has used their own eggs and sperm.

Is surrogacy right for me?

How can people find a surrogate in the UK or overseas?

Surrogates are not allowed to advertise in the UK, so individuals or couples in the UK can either contact a non-profit agency for help or look overseas. It is important for the surrogate and intended parents to share a good relationship.

As a surrogate agreement is not enforceable in the UK and there are not enough surrogates available to fill the demand, around half of the people looking for a surrogate, choose to look overseas. In countries where commercial surrogacy is permitted and the intended parents can be named on the birth certificate, it gives more peace of mind and security to the intended parents. However, it is important to seek advice from immigration specialists in both countries, so that the intended parents don’t get stuck overseas.  

What is National Surrogacy Week?

National Surrogacy Week was founded in 2019 to celebrate surrogacy and highlight the stories of people who have been through the experience, including sharing the views of children who have been born through surrogacy. There are awards for groups or individuals whose contribution has been outstanding, from individual surrogates, midwives or intended parents to clinics and legal teams. 

At The IVF Network, we are here to offer information, advice and support on a wide range of options for individuals and couples who are unable to conceive naturally. Through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blogs, everything are in one place to help you to make informed choices on your fertility journey.