Becoming a new parent is nerve-wracking at the best of times. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are some extra things to consider if you are expecting a baby with the help of a surrogate.
Once your baby arrives, assuming he or she is not displaying symptoms or self-isolating, you are still able to take care of your baby as soon as is safe and practical. There may be new safety protocols limiting who can be at a hospital during a birth and afterwards, so how this happens varies between hospitals and forms an important part of the discussion with them around birth.
When planning to take your baby home and spending your first days and weeks with your child, you should do the following.
When you are able to leave the hospital, ensure that you have your baby’s personal child health record (red book) and any other documentation that the hospital is able to provide you with. You may not be able to register the birth for a while so this documentation may be important.
When you come home it is important that you and your baby receives midwife/health visitor input, and this should continue, but may be virtual in some instances, or more commonly take place with specific safety protocols as to how the midwife will enter your home and assess your baby.
You can and should still register your baby with your local GP. They do not need to see a birth certificate, and it is important that you have access to the NHS for your baby should this be needed, or for routine immunisations.
Intended parents should apply for the parental order as soon as possible. We understand that the England and Wales Register Office is currently not able to register births (with official advice that an appointment to register a birth can only be made from May onwards but that any appointments made may be subject to change) but you can still start the process of applying without one. For the latest information local to you visit the online Government Register Offices guidelines.
If you are a pregnant surrogate or an intended parents thinking about your surrogate, Brilliant Beginnings’ client manager and surrogate Laura, who is currently pregnant with twins for intended parents, has written about some of the important things to consider during and leading up to pregnancy during the pandemic.
We hope that procedures will be put in place to register births remotely in the coming weeks, but in the meantime our sister organisation NGA Law has been working hard to make sure that parental order applications can still be started so there is no delay in intended parents becoming the legal parents of their children.
It seems that it should be possible to start the parental order process with hospital documentation confirming the birth, even before the birth is registered, which is good news for families.
Given the current evolving situation, extra legal advice would be a sensible step to get your parental order application started and to talk through what your legal plan should take into account. You may want to consider having some help with navigating through the application to ensure that things go as smoothly as they can.
This is such a special time for you, as well as your surrogate and her family. Whilst it is not the scenario that you all hoped for when you started out on your journey together, the magic of your newborn will still be present, and you can look forward to a time when you can share your joy with family and friends.
Most importantly, stay safe, and follow current government and NHS guidelines.