The UK government has said it “supports surrogacy” for “LGBT+ parents wanting to create a family”, issuing guidance on the issue for the first time after British Olympic diver Tom Daley announced he is expecting a child via surrogate.
Daley and husband Dustin Lance Black announced earlier this month that they are expecting their first child together. Though they have not spoken about their route to parenthood, it is believed the pair are using a surrogate, whose identity has not been made public.
Following the news, this week the UK government for the first time published guidance on surrogacy for prospective parents.
The guidance notes that surrogacy is common for “LGBT+ parents wanting to create a family”, and states that the Government “supports surrogacy as part of the range of assisted conception options”.
It adds: “Our view is that surrogacy is a pathway, starting with deciding which surrogacy organisation to work with, deciding which surrogate or intended parents (IPs) to work with, reaching an agreement about how things will work, trying to get pregnant, supporting each other through pregnancy and then birth, applying for a parental order to transfer legal parenthood and then helping your child understand the circumstances of their birth.”
It reaffirms that commercial surrogacy is banned in the UK, saying: “Money should not be a motivation for surrogacy. Surrogates in the UK are expected to be paid, no more than reasonable expenses.”
The government also advises parents to talk to children about how they were conceived at pre-school age.
It states: “Research suggests that openness, confidence and transparency about a child’s origins from an early age (pre-school) is the best way to talk to children about their identity and origins.
“Your fertility counsellor should have given you the opportunity to explore how you feel about telling a child about their origins, and fertility counsellors would be happy to help you reach a decision about this at any time, as your thoughts and feelings about if, when and how to do this may change over time. “
Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price said: “We know that surrogacy can be a complex journey which is why we have created a guide fit for modern society, one which balances the need for emotional support with clear legal explanations, for surrogates and intended-parents alike.
“This is much needed clarity to help people decide if surrogacy is for them and I am certain that it will become the ‘go-to’ trusted source for advice and reassurance as ever more people use surrogacy to start families.”
The government also rolled out new guidance for Healthcare professionals which it says “will ensure LGBTQ+ individuals are given equal care, and that all surrogates and intended parents are treated with due dignity and respect”.
Carmel Bagness, Professional Lead for Midwifery and Women’s Health, at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Surrogacy arrangements are an important part of reproductive technologies and care.
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“The guidance, which explains the legal and practical issues of surrogacy from pre conception to the all-important follow on care afterwards, will be an asset to many nurses and midwives working in England and Wales, including those working in non-fertility settings, who may not have encountered such arrangements before.
“The surrogacy journey can be lengthy, emotional and stressful. This guidance will provide some much needed clarity around organisations and processes recommended for success. This should in turn enable nurses and midwives to provide intended parents, host surrogates and their families with the appropriate care and compassion through this journey and will be beneficial to all.”
Sarah Jones, Chairperson of Surrogacy UK said, “Surrogacy UK is pleased to have worked collaboratively with the Department of Health & Social Care on this guidance. It is vital that we help surrogates, intended parents and children to have a positive experience and that we support this modern form of family building.”
Helen Posser, Co-Founder of Brilliant Beginnings said: “We are delighted to have supported the Department of Health’s work to create practical and accurate online public information about modern UK surrogacy.
“The project has involved a collaboration between UK surrogacy organisations and professionals, reflecting the supportive and ethical ethos of UK surrogacy.
“Surrogacy is a positive and increasingly common family-building option in the UK, with more surrogates in the UK wishing to support intended parents who need their help, both LGBTQ+ families and parents who for medical or other reasons cannot carry a pregnancy.”
The APPG for Surrogacy Law Reform said: “The APPG on Surrogacy is pleased to see a central, official source of reference for people looking into surrogacy and for the healthcare professionals that care for them. This will provide reliable information for everyone involved and significantly improve experiences for all.”
Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust said: “Surrogacy arrangements can be complex and there many issues for intended parents and surrogates to think about and discuss. The proliferation of information online often adds to the complexity.
“This guidance from Government will be a trustworthy resource for people to use for their surrogacy journey and should serve to help surrogacy flourish in England and Wales”