Increasing numbers of people in the UK are turning to surrogacy to fulfil their dream of having a family, figures suggest
While there are no centralised figures on the numbers of people who attempt surrogacy each year, there is data on the number of parental orders that are issued to the intended parents of a surrogate child.
Louisa Ghevaert, a surrogacy, fertility and family law expert, said figures from the Ministry of Justice show that fewer than 50 parental orders were issued in 2007.
However, the most recent data suggests this may now be as high as 400 per year.
Ms Ghevaert, who has worked with organisations including Families Through Surrogacy, said the increasing interest in surrogacy is happening for a number of reasons.
These include wider awareness of surrogacy, the “celebrity factor” where celebrities have used surrogates, increased media coverage and the fact women are having children later in life.
“All of this is driving interest in surrogacy,” she said.
Surrogates are paid expenses – with some guidelines suggesting a maximum of £15,000 for the duration of the pregnancy and after care.
There is no tariff set in law but courts that grant parental orders decide on a case-by-case basis whether reasonable expenses have been paid.
Figures from a 2015 report by Surrogacy UK show the average payment is £10,859 for the reimbursement of expenses.
Courts issue parental orders to intended parents around six weeks after the birth. Until then, the surrogate mother – and in some cases her partner – is the child’s legal parent.
Ms Ghevaert said a reform of surrogacy law is urgently needed “in order to make it fit for purpose”.
She said the current law leaves problems, including authorising medical treatments for the child.
People who opt for surrogacy decide with the surrogate mother how the pregnancy will work.
In some cases, surrogates carry embryos that have been created during IVF. In other cases, they offer their own eggs and use artificial insemination to achieve pregnancy.
When they embarked on their own surrogacy journey, Tracy and Pete Akoun travelled to the homes of Tricia Hunt and Kate Fruin-Smith to carry out the insemination around the time of ovulation.
Mrs Hunt and Ms Fruin-Smith used syringes and a Mooncup – traditionally used for menstrual periods – to introduce the sperm into their bodies.