Gay couple’s rollercoaster journey to becoming parents highlights urgent need for UK surrogacy reform
A Devon gay couple have spoken out about their rollercoaster journey to becoming parents, highlighting the desperate need for surrogacy reform in the UK.
While surrogacy is legal in the UK, it is heavily restricted. Advertising that you are either looking for a surrogate or willing to be a surrogate is illegal.
If a surrogate is found without any kind of advertising, they cannot be paid more than their expenses, and any surrogacy agreement drawn up cannot be enforced by law.
If a baby is born via a surrogate, they will be the child’s legal parent at birth. Intended parents must then apply for a parental order, which can only be obtained when the child is six weeks old, although the process can sometimes take up to a year.
Until then, the intended parents have no legal right over their child.
Darren and Ben Tudor-Green from Torquay, Devon, who welcomed their son born via a surrogate on April 8, 2018, shared their story with DevonLive in the hope that it would raise awareness of the desperate need for surrogacy reform.
They began their search for a surrogate by joining surrogacy groups on Facebook. However, they had difficult interactions with potential surrogates, and instead decided to set up their own group.
Health care assistant Darren said: “We wanted someone who would turn around and say, ‘this is your child, what do you want?’, rather than them telling us their demands for putting their lives on hold for nine months.
“We both saw it as a relationship with the surrogate that would hopefully be life-long.”
In July 2017, they finally found a match. They drew up a contract, despite knowing it would not be legally binding.
Darren continued: “You initially can’t involve a solicitor to draw up contracts as they’re not allowed to. The document we all signed was nearly 14 pages long and it even goes into the death of the surrogate or baby.”
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Darren said he “burst into tears” when he first met their son, Santo. They took him home from the hospital the next day, but it took the couple seven months to get a parental order.
“During that time she was still classed as Santo’s legal mother and could have taken him from us at any point,” Darren said.
“I was legally bound to take a DNA test and the 48 hours it took for the results to come back; it was the most horrific time of my life.
“It confirmed I was his father and the order was granted on December 18, 2018. It has been an emotional rollercoaster.”
According to charity Surrogacy UK, the UK’s surrogacy laws date back to the 1980s.
Last year, the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission published a consultation paper on surrogacy reform, but a draft bill to change legislation is yet to be released.