Single women, when they cannot get pregnant by conventional ART techniques, may choose to become mothers by gestational surrogacy. It is a reproductive method that involves a second woman, the surrogate, who lends her uterus to carry out the pregnancy.
The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.
Where is it possible for a single mother?
Countries that allow surrogacy for foreigners are Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Georgia, Canada and the United States (only in some states). However, each one has its own particularities, especially with regard to family models that can access maternity or paternity through this way.
In the case of unmarried women, legislation in Russia, Greece, Canada, the United States ans lately U.K allows them to become mothers by gestational surrogacy.
The problem lies in the fact that, in spite of what the legislation of the country where the surrogacy has taken place says, the intended parents are not always recognised as the legal parents of the baby in the eyes of their own countries.
Situation in Canada
Except in Quebec, where surrogacy is illegal, Canadian regulations are favorable to surrogacy arrangements for both Canadian citizens and foreign patients.
Moreover, it is available for all family types, including single parents, opposite-sex couples, and same-sex couples.
However, despite the openness of the Canadian policies that govern surrogacy, it is not a common destination country for international intended parents due to the conditions and requirements set by the Canadian law, which turn the recruitment of gestational carriers into a tough process.
This major drawback is due to the fact that surrogacy is allowed, but as long as it is done on a 100% altruistic basis, in accordance with the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (Bill C-6, AHRA), i.e. the act governing surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology in Canada. This means that gestational carriers cannot be paid any sort of financial compensation in exchange for carrying someone else’s child.
Situation in the United States
The United States is the most experienced country when it comes to dealing with surrogacy arrangements. In this sense, the main advantage of doing it in this country is that it offers the widest range of legal advantages and guarantees, whilst at the same time is the most expensive one.
It should be noted that there is no federal law governing surrogacy across the country, but the regulations vary by state.
Pre-birth and post-birth orders
They are essential items in every surrogacy arrangement taking place in the United States, as it determines who the legal parent(s) of the child born via surrogacy is. They remove any rights or obligations from the surrogate to the baby.
A birth order is, in simplest terms, a legal documents that assigns parentage to a child. We can distinguish between pre- and post-birth orders depends on the moment when the birth order is given:
- Pre-birth order
- Can be started in the 4th month of pregnancy, and signed by the 7th month.
- Post-birth order
- Commissioning parents are seen in court on the 3rd or 5th day following birth.
Several US states are considered pre-birth order states, including California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Post-birth orders are issued in Florida, Missouri, and Vermont.
As regards pre-birth orders, it is important to understand that they are not effective until the birth occurs, in spite of being issued by the court prior to the birth. However, and especially in the case of foreign intended parents, it offers some peace of mind.
Situation in the U.K
Since January 2019, it is possible for single male or female to become mother thanks to some changes in the legislation.
Indeed, it is now possible to apply for a parental order with a partner or alone. The only two conditions are:
- to be genetically related to the child, so the intended mother has to be the egg donor
- reside permanently in either the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.
Process if living in England or Wales
If living in England or Wales, it is necessary to:
- fill in a “C51 application form” for a parental order and take or send it to a family court,
- provide the child a full birth certificate,
- pay a court fee of £215,
- give the child’s legal parent (the surrogate) a “C52 acknowledgement form” issued by the court
- finally, the surrogate must agree to the parental order by filling in “form A101A“.
Process if living in Scotland or Northern Ireland
If living in Scotland, it is necessary to contact the Court of Session or Sheriff Court.
If living in Northern Ireland, you have to contact the Courts and Tribunals Service.
Process in case of surrogacy abroad
For children born outside the UK, you must ensure that you comply with all legal requirements in the country where surrogacy takes place.
If the surrogate is not a UK citizen, it will be necessary to get a passport for your child and apply for a parental order to transfer legal rights from the surrogate to you.
FAQs from users
How can I find a surrogate mother if I am a single woman?
The safest option is to contact an agency. She will take charge of or offer her experience in all aspects of the process: selection of the surrogate mother, the clinic, contract drafting, legal assistance, translation services, etc.
You can find more information on agencies and professionals in the sector in our article: Professionals Involved in Surrogacy – Agencies, Attorneys & Clinics.
Is it a viable option for a single woman to have a child by surrogacy?
The process is technically possible abroad. However, it should not be forgotten that the future of the mother and child once they return to their country is not directly guaranteed.
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Legal rights of parents & surrogates: on the UK Government Website
Guide for Surrogacy abroad for UK citizens edited by the UK Government: [here]