If you are looking to extend your family then international surrogacy is one route to do so.
Our specialist family lawyers and immigration solicitors work closely together to help you with the family law and the immigration law aspects of international surrogacy.
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International surrogacy or international adoption
It is best to look at the options of international adoption or surrogacy before deciding on how you want to expand your family. If you have settled in the UK from overseas you may be particularly keen to adopt from your home country or to use a surrogate from there. However, international adoption and surrogacy are not legal in every country so it is first best to check the laws in the relevant overseas country before you commit to a plan.
The difference between adoption and surrogacy
The key difference between international adoption and surrogacy is that in a surrogacy arrangement, there is always a genetic link between at least one parent-to-be and the surrogate mother. In adoption, there may be no genetic link although, in some cases, the applicants are asking to adopt the child of an extended family member, such as their niece or nephew.
The definition of surrogacy
Surrogacy is a concept that is hard to define because there are many variants. In essence, a surrogate carries a child on behalf of someone else. The surrogate may or may not have a biological link to the child she carries but there has to be a genetic link to one of the parents-to-be. However, the concept of surrogacy can involve the supply of both egg and sperm by the parents-to-be, or the egg or sperm can come from a donor.
International surrogacy law
Unfortunately, there is no one international surrogacy law. That is why it is best to check surrogacy laws in your chosen country before committing time and money to something that may be illegal or difficult to achieve in your country of first choice. In some countries, surrogacy is not only legal but agreements are enforceable and payments legally allowed, and this difference in laws can affect your choice of country.
International immigration law for children born to surrogate mothers
There is no international immigration law for children born through overseas surrogacy arrangements. Many British citizens or those who have settled in the UK chose international surrogacy because surrogacy agreements are enforceable in some overseas countries. In the UK surrogacy is legal but you cannot sue if a surrogate changes her mind so you cannot enforce the agreement. In addition, in the UK you can only pay the surrogate reasonable expenses rather than pay the surrogate for what they are doing for you. For these reasons, and because it is difficult to find a UK surrogate, many couples chose international surrogacy.
Immigration solicitors warn that although surrogacy laws in some overseas countries may be more flexible than in the UK, the UK parents-to-be also need to understand the procedure for the child to leave their country of birth and the immigration rules surrounding UK entry clearance for a surrogate child and whether their child will be a British citizen or not, and if not, how the child will acquire British citizenship.
Getting your baby home to the UK
Couples who decide that an international surrogacy arrangement is the best route for them often say that getting their baby home after their birth is often the most frustrating step in the surrogacy process. That isn’t surprising as with a new arrival you want to be able to start your life as parents without delay or red tape.
Depending on the country where the surrogacy arrangement takes place it could take weeks or months to get UK entry clearance. A lot depends on the nationality and marriage status of the surrogate as well as other factors. That’s why immigration lawyers stress that you need international surrogacy immigration law advice as well as surrogacy solicitors on your side so you know, before you even commit to surrogacy, what the entry clearance process will involve and so you can plan accordingly.
Knowing the time needed to get your baby back to the UK won't avoid the frustration of waiting but it may affect your choice of country or surrogate and enable you to plan and manage your expectations.
Parental orders and international surrogacy
If you have a child through a surrogacy arrangement, you will need a parental order in the UK. A parental order extinguishes the legal rights of the surrogate mother (and her husband if the surrogate is married) and gives the parents-to-be parental responsibility for the child. Once the parental order has been made you will get a new birth certificate for the child.
Online and London Family Law Solicitors and International Surrogacy Lawyers