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A surrogate is someone who has a baby for someone else. This could be a person they know, or someone they've been matched with through a surrogacy organisation.
Surrogacy organisations, like Surrogacy UK, provide information and support for surrogates and intended parents.
Becoming a surrogate is a big commitment and will affect your physical and emotional health. Most agencies will ask you to go to counselling before you begin treatment.
It's illegal to pay a surrogate for anything other than 'reasonable expenses'. This covers things like:
- travel costs
- treatment costs
- maternity clothes
- childcare costs if you have children
- any loss of earnings
As a surrogate, you'll be the legal parent of the child when they're born. If they consent to it, the other legal parent could be:
- your civil partner
- your spouse
- one of the 'intended parents'
The intended parent, or parents, is the person or couple who you are having a baby for.
Intended parents can apply for a 'parental order' from a court to become the child's legal parents 6 weeks after they're born.
The intended parents must apply for a 'parental order' between 6 weeks and 6 months of the birth. Surrogates and intended parents should get legal advice before beginning the surrogacy process.
Types of surrogacy
There are 2 types of surrogacy:
- straight surrogacy - also known as 'traditional surrogacy'
- host surrogacy - also known as 'gestational surrogacy'
This is when sperm or an embryo is inserted into your body. The sperm comes from either a donor or an intended parent.
You can do this at a pregnancy clinic or at home with an insemination kit.
If you choose to use an insemination kit at home, then there are additional health and legal risks compared to treatment at a clinic. This could include infection or risk to the health of the surrogate or baby. If you do use artificial insemination at home or at a clinic, you should seek legal advice. For more information visit Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Host (or 'gestational') surrogacy
This is when an embryo is inserted into your body. It could be an egg from:
- an intended parent
- a donor
The sperm comes from either a donor or an intended parent.
This type of surrogacy must be done in a clinic that's registered with the HFEA
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