Britain's 1000th surrogate child handed over in a hospital car park highlights the need for surrogacy law reform

Louisa Ghevaert comments in the Daily Mail

The official handover of Britain's 1000th surrogate born child to her intended mother took place off hospital premises, in the car park, the Daily Mail reports.

Despite the hospital staff treating the birth of the child with sensitivity and respect, hospital policy required the official 'handover' to take place off hospital premises – in this case in a car park. Mother Amy Croft commented that "it made the handover feel like it was something to be ashamed of".

The report explains the legal difficulties experienced by Amy and her surrogate in the weeks after the birth of the child. When registering the birth, the law dictated that the surrogate's husband, who is not the biological father and did not wish to be named, had to be recorded on the child's birth certificate as the legal father. The surrogate is the legal mother of the child along with her spouse until a parental order reassigns that legal status to the intended parents − a process which can take a number of months after the birth. During the interim period, the surrogate mother and her spouse must give consent to welfare decisions for the child, including any medical care.

Amy's story highlights the "still-murky world of surrogacy" and the need for legal reform to ensure the welfare and best interests of surrogate-born children are met.  

Commenting in the Daily Mail report, Louisa Ghevaert, leading UK fertility, surrogacy and family lawyer and Partner at Michelmores LLP, said: “Surrogacy law is outdated; we are talking about laws that were brought in 30 years ago and based very much on the IVF side of fertility treatment."

"We have all heard of people who fall foul of the system when they go abroad for treatment, and then have problems getting that baby back into the country, but there are also problems here. I recently dealt with a couple who separated after their surrogate baby was born, before they had been able to apply for a parental order. As the law stands, a single mother cannot apply for an order — which left my client in a terrible situation."

The case is another that calls for legal reform to provide clarity and support for people undertaking surrogacy in the UK, an increasingly popular option.

For further information, the article can be viewed here.

Louisa Ghevaert, Head of the Fertility & Parenting team at Michelmores LLP can be contacted by email  or by telephone +44 (0)207 788 6382.