On the 3rd of January 2019 a long awaited change in the law meant that single people finally gained access to the parental order here in the UK. Before this change, one of the criteria that applicants needed to meet, was that they were a couple in an enduring relationship (married or cohabiting, gay or straight). The change in the law now means that this clear discrimination towards single people has been corrected.
What is the parental order?
Intended parents apply for a parental order after baby is born in order to become the legal parents. At birth and until the parental order is granted, the surrogate is the legal mother, and if she is married, her husband or wife is the other legal parent. This is not a situation that the surrogate wants, and the onus is on the intended parents to apply for the parental order to resolve this. If things are set up properly at the beginning and everyone is well informed, things rarely go wrong, but there is a huge amount of trust that all involved have to put in each other.
What has changed?
The team at NGA law brought a case where a single man with a child through surrogacy applied for, and was prevented from being granted a parental order. NGA Law argued that this was incompatible with his human rights, and discriminatory on the basis that he was single. The court agreed, and it was then the job of the UK government to enact fast-track legislation (the remedial order) to amend the existing law and allow single people to apply.
What does this mean for surrogates?
Whilst being a surrogate for a single person was never illegal, there was no straightforward way to resolve the legal status of the surrogate (and her partner) or the single person. The vast majority of surrogates, understandably did not feel comfortable with, or indeed want this. The change in the law now means resolving legal parentage is possible, and for surrogates who are looking to match with intended parents, single people can very much be part of the thought process around considering who to help.
What makes a good match?
From the very beginning it is important that everyone involved is well informed, both in terms of the law and practicalities and realities of surrogacy journey. At Brilliant Beginnings we spend a lot of time with surrogates, their partners, and intended parents to make sure that they are well equipped to make informed decisions. This is invaluable to making for a good and solid match.
Whilst not all, some surrogates will be drawn to the particular circumstances of intended parents. Often this will be based on their own experience of infertility either directly or through a friend or family member. More and more frequently this might involve a single man or woman the surrogate knows, that for various reasons may not have been able to complete their family. The good news is that there is no reason not to consider being matched with a single person. Sometimes surrogates are open to helping create a family of any shape or size, and likewise the change in the law now means that from a matching perspective, organisations and surrogates can actively consider single people when everything else is aligned.