Creating families through surrogacy – gay style

Starting a family via surrogacy has become increasingly common amongst gay men, despite constant changes in rules affecting availability in other countries. When Thailand, India, Nepal & Cambodia all froze access to surrogacy for foreigners, many gay men were left with embryos stranded. Meanwhile, providers in the USA, Canada and South East Asia have stepped in to fill the gap left by these changes.

Scott is dual nationality British/Australian, his husband Sascha is Bavarian. Their son Charlie was born in the USA with the help of surrogacy matching agency Worldwide Surrogacy. It was a great experience and they were inspired by the willingness of others to help them create a family. Scott and Sascha partnered with people they trusted: they got to know their surrogate, egg donor and their respective husbands well, and will stay in touch as Charlie grows up. They were granted parental orders by the UK High Court in January.

Adam is a business change management consultant. He and partner Christopher are creating their family through gestational surrogacy and hope to become parents to twins later in 2017. They are using an increasingly popular hybrid model – a surrogate in Canada, but the IVF will occur in the USA.

Neil and Andrew live in Northern Ireland and have been together for nine years and work in banking and travel. Neil and his partner looked at many different options before deciding on surrogacy in the UK. They met their surrogate through an online surrogacy forum in April 2015. Their son was born in November 2016 in the UK via gestational independent surrogacy after the couple spent four years planning.

These are just a few of half a dozen couples who will share their experiences at Families Through Surrogacy’s fourth annual UK conference in London in March. It’s an event which puts parents and surrogates front and centre, sharing honest appraisals and real-life journeys.

Legal issues are a key concern to intended parents. The UK has a very low-regulation approach to surrogacy and there has been an increase in UK citizens engaging in surrogacy domestically, often without any counseling or legal advice up-front. So it’s no surprise that a number of those arrangements fall apart. Many couples going down this route don’t realise the vital need to apply for a parental order within six months (this applies to any surrogacy arrangement) so that the intended parents are legal parents. If they don’t, UK law sees the surrogate as the legal parent, which has devastating implications for the child and intended parents later down the line. This can cause issues around critical decisions with the child’s schooling or any hospital treatment. To read more on parental orders this see our article here.

Louisa Ghevaert, leading UK surrogacy, fertility and family law expert will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming conference. “The law relating to surrogacy in the UK is out-dated”, she admits. “Reform is needed to remove legal uncertainty for intended parents and surrogate born children. This together with the lack of international harmonisation of surrogacy law means intended parents need to ensure they fully understand the legal issues and pitfalls before they begin their journey to parenthood.”

UK parents of children born via overseas surrogacy are eligible for parental orders as well as a new UK birth certificate with the names of both commissioning parents as the legal parents. Most other European countries do not offer this.

The conference brings together intended parents, surrogates and surrogacy experts from UK, USA and SE Asia to explore the changing landscape. This year’s five person conference committee is four gay dads with stories that span the globe – Richard had his children in the USA, Sam in India, Jason in Mexico and Neil in the UK. All wished the journey had been easier, hence their passion to help others who follow.

“Promoting best practice is our aim,” says Sam Everingham, a gay dad of two girls born through surrogacy and Founder of non-profit organisation Families Through Surrogacy. “So we’re delighted to be bringing experts and parents together to share their experiences and advice with those trying to create a family.” Families Through Surrogacy provide support via their website and host annual surrogacy conferences in Ireland, UK, Scandinavia and Australia.

“These events provide those considering surrogacy with a rare once-yearly opportunity to learn first hand about surrogacy and understand how to minimise the chance of things falling over.”

The UK conference in March includes sessions covering the risks, the joys, the real costs and choices involved in surrogacy in the UK, USA, Ukraine and Canada. Highlights include panels featuring gay couples and surrogates; experts from the USA, Canada and SE Asia, matching with donors and surrogates; increasing success rates; and how to tell your kids and friends.

The Families Through Surrogacy conference is on 11 March 2017 at Etc. Venues 155 Bishopsgate, London. Tickets cost £25-45. For full conference details as well as details on their Dublin conference on 12 March, go to:

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