There will be a process to go through to answer this question, including getting clear information about the process, costs and long term implications for you and your child. There are many reasons why parents pursue surrogacy and whether it is right for you is a very personal decision. Your particular circumstances and priorities will impact on your choices and as surrogacy is a long journey, you want to be prepared.
We can help you with that process, and there are other sources of support too, such as fertility counselling and organisations which can provide you with a support network in tandem with our services. It is important to talk to your family and friends too and, if you are a couple, to consider things carefully together.
To be a Brilliant Beginnings surrogate, a woman needs to be in good health, with an optimum BMI of between 19 and 28 (with a maximum of 35 and a minimum of 19). She must also be a non-smoker, not have any medical problems or be on any medication which could put them or your child at risk during pregnancy.
The upper age limit is 50 although, given the greater risk of pregnancy complications as you get older, surrogates over the age of 35 will need extra medical screening. We do not accept surrogates under the age of 18 and will only in exceptional cases accept surrogates under the age of 21.
We do not accept surrogates who have a criminal record or are known to social services. All our surrogates have had at least one successful pregnancy resulting in a child who is living with them, and are well supported and in a financially and personally stable living situation. They are screened by us and a professional counsellor as being emotionally fit and ready to be a surrogate.
All our surrogates (and their families) are given an enormous amount of information about the surrogacy process before they are matched with intended parents, to help them think through all the issues and to prepare. This includes, not only meetings (and a home visit) with us, but also professional surrogacy preparation counselling with a BICA counsellor and independent legal advice.
Most surrogates feel huge empathy for intended parents, knowing the joy that children can bring and wanting intended parents to experience it. Once you meet a surrogate you will see how much pride they take in changing people’s lives. The prize for a surrogate is to see you with a child.
UK law on surrogacy has always sought to discourage payments for surrogacy, fearing that they might motivate people to become surrogates for the wrong reasons. We only support surrogacy arrangements in which we can be sure that women go into it with a full understanding of the risks and implications, and there is no suggestion of financial exploitation. That is why we directly manage surrogacy arrangements only in the UK and the USA (although through our legal experience we have worked with parents conceiving through surrogacy in many other countries, and we can advise you on other options).
Surrogates do not see the baby that they carry as their own, and are counselled to ensure that they are settled in this perspective before being cleared to proceed. Typically, surrogates are women who enjoy pregnancy or find it easy, and want to help someone else to have a family. We will help you to set the right foundations to your relationship with your surrogate, and provide support through the process to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible. In the eyes of the law in the UK, you are not your child's parents until a parental order has been granted after your baby is born, and your surrogate must consent to the transfer of parenthood. In the overwhelming majority of cases this is a formality rather than a need for concern, particularly if things are managed properly.
Many successful intended parents form deep bonds with their surrogates that last a lifetime, sometimes without having expected that at the outset. Additionally, most surrogates have their own families and friends to support them. Our advice to surrogates includes identifying friends and family who they can rely on and help them before, during and after pregnancy. To ensure that you are well suited, it is important to understand how much support you are able to give and how much support your surrogate expects from you before you enter into an arrangement. That is why careful personalised matching is so important. We will also be there to provide emotional support to you all throughout the process.
There is no perfect calendar; each arrangement is different. You may find the right surrogate straight away or it may take some time. It is important to establish a good relationship with open lines of trust and communication. Each relationship needs to grow and develop organically and some take longer than others.
We can help you to put together a personalised budget for your UK or US surrogacy journey. US surrogacy journeys involve different types of costs from UK surrogacy journeys and it is important you budget carefully and do not overlook anything. There is more information on our surrogacy costs page.
Mostly people will be supportive and interested. Some may be very happy for you. Some may be worried about the process and its implications. It is important that you give your friends and family as much information as you feel you can. From the outset we recommend creating an environment of honesty and openness which will help to support your child when he or she is born. Keeping those who are close to you involved and being honest about what, how and why you are choosing surrogacy will smooth any concerns. Taking time to get this right will ensure your child has the most positive of starts.
Under UK law, the woman who gives birth is always treated as the legal mother and her husband or civil partner is treated as the legal father/other parent, irrespective of who the biological parents are. This means that, if you conceive your child through a surrogacy arrangement, you will need to obtain a parental order to reassign parenthood to you. This is necessary even if your child is born in the USA and you are named as the parents on the US birth certificate.
There is more information on our surrogacy and UK law page.
There is no fixed timescale, but our experience is that it generally takes 2 to 4 weeks to secure a US passport for your child (and much longer to secure UK documentation). We can help you plan for this waiting time, with appropriate accommodation and flexible travel arrangements. It is practically possible to travel home on a US passport alone without UK documentation, and most parents do, but it is important to understand the risks and how to deal with things in practice, since your child will have no guaranteed right of entry at the UK border.
Our team has experience of surrogacy arrangements all over the world, including many arrangements in India and the Ukraine. We are happy to discuss these options with you in your surrogacy options review.
We directly manage international surrogacy arrangements only in the USA because this is the only destination where we feel that we can, with confidence, assure you of the safety and quality of the professional services offered, the stability of the laws, and the safeguards against the risk of financial exploitation.
After a long campaign, the government introduced adoption leave rights (which are equivalent to maternity leave) for intended parents in surrogacy cases from April 2015. You will be entitled to adoption (surrogacy) leave and pay from birth if you intend to apply for a parental order and expect to be granted one.
Domicile may affect your ability to undertake surrogacy here in the UK or abroad, so it would be important to understand your domicile status in the first instance. One of the criteria for a Parental Order is that one of must be domiciled in the UK. We would suggest speaking to NGA Law to clarify your domicile prior to going ahead with surrogacy. At Brilliant Beginnings we are only able to support UK intended parents who are able to apply for a parental order and so as long as one of you is domiciled in the UK, then we would be happy to help.
We would love to be able to help you but as you probably know, there is a shortage of surrogates here in the UK. The fact you have children may mean that the length of time you have to wait for a potential match may be longer. Some, but not all, surrogates would prefer to help a couple who do not have children. Others would simply like to help a family feel complete. As surrogacy becomes more accessible in the UK, we hope that this poses less of a hurdle for you. There are also options abroad where this may not be such an issue, meaning you do not need to wait as long and this is something that we can discussed at an Options Review meeting with us.