The baby Gammy case that’s making the headlines right now has, understandably, raised concerns about surrogacy – and whether the rules are too lax. But while that may be the case abroad, in the UK there are generally more guidelines and support, aren’t there? We investigate.
Baby Gammy is the six-month-old boy who has reportedly been left with his surrogate mum by his intended parents, an Australian couple, because he has Down’s Syndrome. If you’ve been following the story on the news, you’re no doubt as confused as to what really happened as we are, as there’s a whole lot of speculation about what’s actually going.
Some reports suggest the intended parents knew about Gammy’s condition before he was born and didn’t want him, but did take his healthy twin sister, while others claim the couple didn’t even know he existed. We may never know the truth. But we, along with most of the world, are most concerned about Gammy’s wellbeing and future, as well as his twin sister who is now living with a father who’s previously been charged with committing paedophilic acts.
READ: SURROGACY – COULD IT BE THE RIGHT OPTION FOR YOU?
While this surrogacy case is happening abroad, it’s raised issues about surrogacy everywhere and what safeguards are in place for all those involved – the surrogate, the intended parents and, most importantly, the baby.
So how does a surrogate mother protect herself in the UK?
Intended parents have to meet certain guidelines and have various checks before being given the green light to use a surrogate.
'Surrogacy can’t be commercial. No payment can be exchanged, only to cover expenses'
‘First, the surrogacy can’t be commercial,’ says Sarah Jones, chairperson of Surrogacy UK. ‘No payment can be exchanged, only to cover expenses. Secondly, you need to be a long-term relationship. Either married or have been with your partner for a number of years.’ And you both have to be UK residents.
‘With Surrogacy UK the intended parents are CRB checked, interviewed and have to provide a GP report detailing any mental or physical issues, they also have to do a full STI check, have wills and insurance,’ Sarah continues. Different agencies and independent surrogacies will have different checks and guidelines – so check each one’s before going further.
What are the risks involved?
Unfortunately, there are risks to using a surrogate in the UK for both the surrogate and the intended parents – but this is something that Surrogacy UK recognises needs to be changed and is working towards.
READ: THE WOMAN WHO’S SO ADDICTED TO PREGNANCY SHE IS A SURROGATE FOR FREE
‘Any any point until the parental order is signed, which can be anything up to nine months after the baby is born, the intended parents have the right to refuse to keep the baby,’ Sarah explains. ‘But the surrogate mother and her husband can choose to keep the baby as they remain the legal parents – even if they’re not the biological parents.
'The surrogate mum is legally responsible for the baby'
‘The surrogate mum is legally responsible for the baby, so if the intended parents decide not to keep him and the surrogate doesn’t want to either, then she runs the risk of being charged with child abandonment.’
Because of these risks, surrogacy organisations in the UK invest a lot of time and effort into making sure you take plenty of time to get to know your surrogate before and during the pregnancy. ‘Don’t rush into anything,’ says Sarah. ‘Build a friendship and a level of trust.’
And the risk of anything going wrong in a UK surrogacy is low. ‘Here in the UK, surrogacy is much more open than other places in the world,’ says Sarah. ‘Nothing goes on behind closed doors – like it seems to have with the baby Gammy case.'
In the UK, where there are around 150 to 200 surrogate babies born a year, you will always meet the surrogate before the birth.
What happens if you use a surrogate abroad?
Using a surrogate abroad is more difficult as you would need to meet both UK laws and those of the surrogate’s country.
‘Before proceeding with this, I would recommend speaking to someone from a family law firm who can advise intended parents on international surrogacy and how it all works,’ says Sarah.
If you’ve used a surrogate – or been one – how was your experience? Share your tips in the comments box below.