A story of surrogacy in the UK: first steps on a journey
Paul Gittins is in the early stages of planning his family. He explores the emotions that have emerged as he and his partner Bryan decide to try surrogacy in the UK.
"The decision has been a long time coming for us. We’ve been together for 14 years and from very early on Bryan talked about expanding our family to include children. It has been a topic of discussion since. When we became godparents, we talked about it. When a nephew or niece’s birthday or Christmas came around, we talked about it. We pretty much managed to talk about it every time we passed a Baby Gap! For Bryan it’s a fundamental need built into his very fabric. I was reluctant for a long time; not that I don’t want to have a family (I really do!) but I was always scared about how it would change our lives. I still am a little bit, but we both agree that the time is right.
We quickly established that adoption isn’t for us right now – we want to be biologically connected to our children. We also decided that we wanted to have a child between the two of us rather than sharing the responsibility as co-parents.
Which left surrogacy. We explored international surrogacy and were definitely attracted by the process in the US, but financially it just isn’t a possibility at the moment. We had some moral concerns and reservations about some of the other countries that offer “surrogacy packages” (someone actually used the phrase “have a baby for the price of a second hand car….”). In the end we felt that the process is going to be difficult enough without introducing cultural, language, legal and distance barriers into the mix on top. Not to mention the prospect of being on our own for months, in a different country, trying to bring up a new baby.
So we decided on domestic surrogacy. We quickly realised what we are about to do is huge, complicated and difficult. The UK isn’t the easiest place to go through surrogacy. The legal framework is in its infancy; brokered surrogacy arrangements are illegal in the UK and the birth mother – whether biologically related to the child or not – is seen as the legal parent, which means a number of court visits to secure a parental order, which can take around six months. There are big restrictions around how surrogates and intended parents can come together. Plus there just aren’t many amazing women willing to be altruistic surrogates in the first place – it’s a huge undertaking for someone when you think of the whole process from testing and IVF, the pregnancy, the birth and then handing over a child you’ve carried for 9 months.
We also decided on gestational surrogacy; using an anonymous egg donor to create our embryo before it is implanted into the womb of the surrogate. We felt that from an emotional perspective, it would be better for all of us to have no genetic link with the surrogate and the baby.”
Paul Gittins, 35, and Bryan Payne, 38, live in west Essex.
This article was printed in issue 6 of We Are Family magazine, Summer 2014. Details may have changed - please do not rely on this information solely when making decisions - do your own research, make your own checks and get legal or health advice as appropriate.