Covid has dominated our lives and impacted our decision-making over the past few years. At the start of this new year, it feels there is light at the end of the tunnel and people are shaking off those Covid shackles and making more tangible plans for the year ahead. For many, their plans include starting or growing a family. Surrogacy has certainly become a popular choice for those who need a helping hand.
Advances in assisted reproductive technology, societal changes and positive shifts in public opinion have all contributed to the growth of surrogacy but surrogacy laws remain outdated and international surrogacy arrangements are complex legal jigsaws! Despite the legal challenges surrogacy is on the rise and UK law reform, which aims to make things more straightforward, is on the horizon.
Over the years, I have advised many intended parents and surrogates in relation to their domestic and international surrogacy plans. I have three top tips:
- Research - is key when planning a surrogacy arrangement but knowing where to start can be a minefield. A quick browse of the internet shows that there in an abundance of surrogacy information out there but knowing what is fact and fiction can be a real challenge. Ideally, try and speak to others who have been through surrogacy and trusted professionals who can help unpick your plans and get you thinking about things you may not have even considered. These steps, in combination with your other research, whether reading articles or listening to podcasts, will really help you make informed decisions and reduce the risk of complications and difficulties.
- Planning and finances - surrogacy is a project and, as with most projects, it requires a plan if it is to be successful. Each arrangement is unique and requires careful and realistic financial consideration at the outset. As a minimum, costs will most likely include fertility treatment fees and pregnancy expenses. Depending on what level of support you require, legal, agency and counselling fees may also need to be factored into your budget. If you are planning a surrogacy overseas there will be travel and accommodation costs as well. Working thorough your plans at an early stage and putting them in writing will really help you set things up properly but be prepared to be flexible as surrogacy plans often involve a few bumps in the road, like any big project!
- Expert legal advice – as the decisions you make will ultimately have lifelong legal and emotional consequences, getting legal advice early will be an invaluable investment. Surrogacy laws are complex so knowing how they fit in with your specific plans and the steps you will need to take before, during and after the arrangement are key components to good surrogacy planning.
The children team at Russell-Cooke has a wealth of experience advising families in relation to their family building plans whether through surrogacy in the UK or internationally. Our specialist family, immigration and private client teams offer practical and legal advice and would be very happy to answer any of your surrogacy planning questions to help guide you to make your plans a success. We are also happy to recommend other professionals who might be able to help also.