After much research we discovered SurrogacyUK, the country’s leading organisation who provides support for IPs (intended parents) and surrogates through a friendship first approach. You meet people and make connections. (We have met and made some fanatic friends through SurrogacyUK).
All members are DBS’ed and medically checked for surrogacy. SurrogacyUK’s way involves chatting to people via online forums, socials over the country where you meet up with other IPs and surrogates and just chat and make friends. They have an annual conference too.
We eventually became members in Feb 2018 after being on the waiting list for about 4 months (there is a strict ratio of no more than 1:3 IPs to surrogates to make making connections fairer) and then we wrote a profile about ourselves which gets sent to active surrogates looking to help people like us have a child.
Some surrogates use their own eggs (Traditional or straight TS) and others use donor eggs/sperm (Gestational/Host GS). One of the IPs must be genetically linked to the baby for it to be classed as surrogacy. Surrogates do NOT get paid – their pregnancy expenses are covered so they are not out of pocket. Surrogates are not giving away their baby – they are giving it back to its parents. They do it for LOVE, not money.
After being to several socials, and a SurrogacyUK conference, we became members and then after a few weeks of chatting to people on the members forums and going to socials as members and writing a ‘diary’ of what we’ve been up to each week, we got ‘The Call’ from SurrogacyUK admin lady Dawn to say that Gemma had read our profile, and wanted to Get To Know us. We’d already been speaking to her on the boards for a few weeks and had just clicked. We had loads in common (Disney, Marvel, caravan holidays especially) and the conversation flowed. We then spent 3 months hanging out every couple of weeks – we went to SurrogacyUK socials, Chessington WOA, Warwick Castle, Paradise Wildlife park, Bushy Park, dinner at restaurants and meeting each other’s family to name a few. During this time we had to have some quite deep conversations and make sure we agreed on the important things like abortion, what happens if one of us dies, testing during pregancy, what was going to happen when Gem was pregnant, what would happen during the birth and trying to conceive, expenses, contact after birth. We had to get wills for us and Gemma, and take out life insurance for us and Gem too.
On September 8th 2018 (exactly a year before Milo was born!) we had our SurrogacyUK agreement session with one of the SurrogacyUK trustees David, which involves going through a 20 page document that covers pretty much every scenario. The agreement is not legally binding but is recognised by hospitals and is used as part of the parental order process.
We then started the ‘Trying to Conceive’ process. We did straight surrogacy so we did home inseminations using Gemma’s eggs and Neil’s swimmers. We got pregnant in October last year but sadly had a miscarriage at 5 weeks, something that only brought us together even more. We then spent a few weeks regrouping before Gem insisting we tried again. We got pregnant in December (BEST NEWS EVER!!!) and spent the next 9 months seeing each other pretty much every 3 weeks or so going to places such as Tower of London, Hobbledown, SurrogacyUK socials, Bushy park, Hastings, Godstone Farm to name a few. We loved getting our bump photo updates to see baby growing. We used to record stories on Belly Buds which Gem used to play to Milo whilst he was cooking. We went with Gem to all the scans and some of the midwife appointments.
Cut to 8th September, Milo was born. West Middlesex were amazing after having a meeting a few days before about what we wanted to happen during and after the birth. We were present in the birthing centre. It was a water birth and Gem used just gas and air – epic! Suffice to say, this was one of the best days of my life watching my son being born and watching Gemma go through what she did to help Neil and I become daddies. We have no words. Mark’s support was incredible for the three of us and we will be eternally grateful even if he did go to eat some Jammie Dodgers mid-contraction.
Neil took Milo out of the pool (I cried) and placed him on Gem whilst we delayed the cord cutting (I sobbed on Gem), I cut the cord (cried some more), I had skin to skin (more tears) then Neil had skin to skin (sobbed once more). Gem had cuddles after she showered, Mark had cuddles then me then Neil, then Gem, then Mark (you get the idea!) The next day after he had his baby checks, BCG and was issued with an NHS number, we took Milo home (no passing him over in the carpark!) Gemma had already gone home the day before to celebrate her daughter’s birthday who was pretty annoyed her mum had missed a lot of it. (She’s forgiven us now and is Milo’s favourite of Gem’s kids as result!)
So now what….
We are Milo’s parents. We are his dads. He doesn’t have a ‘mum’. He has special Aunty Gem and awesome Uncle Mark who we will continue to see all the time coz we are friends. Gem’s relationship is with us first and foremost. We enjoy spending time together.
Gem does not see Milo as her baby. He was never hers in the first place. She grew him for us. I’m sure she would be happy to explain how it feels if you wanted to ask her. From my point of view, the massive high she got/gets from seeing us become a family is something you cannot put into words.
But the law for Neil and I as Milo’s parents currently says otherwise…
The law was written in 1985 and is currently in consultation.
We registered Milo at our GP and the registry office in Hounslow. As Milo was born via surrogacy, Gemma is registered as his mother, and as she is married, Mark is registered as his father, even though he has no genetic link to Milo. (Sigh… We know!?!) If a surrogate is single, either IP (male or female) can be registered as parent number 2. Currently Milo’s birth certificate states Gem and Mark as his parents. Neil and I are not even mentioned. Gem has written a letter to give us consent to make medical decisions. There is documentation to support healthcare professionals in supporting IPs and surrogates written by the Department for Health and Social Care which breaks down the stigmas and misconceptions.
After 6 weeks of birth, Neil and I will apply for a parental order which takes approximately up to 6 months where we will all be visited by a CAFCASS officer to check that Milo is cared for by Neil and I, and that everything is above board, including only reasonable expenses were given to Gem. We will have a day with a judge in family court to pass the PO from Gem and Mark to us, and then go to the pub for dinner and bubbles to celebrate. We will then get new copies of Milo’s birth certificates which will state Neil and myself as Milo’s parents – cannot wait for this day!
I am now on ‘adoption leave’ (even though I am not adopting Milo) and taking up to a year off work and Neil is enjoying his second week of paternity leave. This just made sense being a teacher and the parental leave package being a teacher provides. Adoption leave is the same pay as maternity leave.
Hopefully this explains some of the basics of surrogacy.
For more information see: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/684275/surrogacy-guidance-for-intended-parents-and-surrogates.pdf