Voices: This is why I became a surrogate

·4-min read
Voices: This is why I became a surrogate

In September last year, I gave birth as a surrogate.

Becoming a surrogate was something that I considered at great length over many years. I didn’t want to have children but I had a strong desire to experience pregnancy. Surrogacy seemed like the perfect way to fulfil my dream, while also helping someone to become a parent.

I learned about the process of surrogacy and what being pregnant would entail. I joined Surrogacy UK, an organisation that supports surrogacy arrangements and has helped facilitate the birth of more than 390 children through surrogacy.

It was very important to me that my partner, Thomas, was on board with my decision. Surrogate partners are the unsung heroes of surrogacy journeys, offering a huge amount of support throughout the pregnancy. After attending a surrogacy information day together, Thomas was just as excited about surrogacy as me. He liked seeing the strong friendships in other surrogacy teams and couldn’t wait to form our own.

I loved being pregnant and enjoyed the changes that my body went through. It was amazing to feel the baby kick and know that there was life inside of me. I was very keen to share this with the baby’s parents, offering them the chance to feel my belly whenever we spent time together.

Giving birth was one of the best experiences of my life. The baby’s parents, as well as Thomas, acted as my birth partners. The baby’s mother had the first skin-to-skin with her daughter, while I hugged Thomas, feeling grateful that my part was done.

However, when we registered the baby, I was required to be listed as the baby’s legal mother on the birth certificate. As I am not married, the baby’s father could also be listed on the birth certificate. This is not the case for many children born through surrogacy, who must have the surrogate’s husband or wife listed as their second parent.

The child I carried was born into the arms of her mother but the law still doesn't recognise their relationship. Thankfully, a Law Commission review has just been published, which proposes changes to the law to allow a baby’s parents to be recognised as such from birth.

The current surrogacy process requires us to apply for a court order to reissue a birth certificate with the correct parents listed on it. We applied for this last October but we are still waiting for a court date when the order can be granted.

Prior to getting pregnant, I went through a number of safeguards. Both Surrogacy UK and the fertility clinic ensured that I was fully informed and that I wasn’t being pressured or taken advantage of.

We also received legal advice from an independent solicitor. However, as part of the court process after the birth, I still had to be assessed by a court officer. I found this process to be frustrating and stressful, as I worried that the court might misinterpret my answers. I didn’t want to do anything that would have a negative impact on the baby that I carried, or on her parents.

The baby’s parents were also visited by the court and were judged on their fitness to be parents. This felt unfair as it isn’t something that parents through other forms of assisted conception, such as IVF or donor eggs/sperm, have to go through.

The most important part of the court order is an official document where I give my consent to transfer legal parenthood. Signing this was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made: I don’t believe that I should ever have been listed as the baby’s parent on her birth certificate, and I’m grateful that it will soon be rectified.

The Law Commission report proposes allowing surrogates like me to follow a new pathway, where checks are performed prior to pregnancy. This new pathway would mean that the baby’s parents could be listed on the birth certificate and would have parental rights from birth.

I regularly visit the parents of the baby that I carried. Through our surrogacy journey, we became close friends, and I am enjoying seeing them with their baby daughter. We will celebrate together on the day when the court order is granted, finally giving parental rights to both of the baby’s parents.

Hopefully, sometime soon, the Law Commission proposals will be passed into law. We desperately need to see an update to the current out-of-date laws to reflect the reality of surrogacy, so parents through surrogacy will no longer have to go through this process to have their legal parenthood recognised.