This week, BBC secured an interview with a single British man who was denied a parentage order over his son who was born to a surrogate mother in the United States. He was denied the order because Britain’s surrogacy laws only allow couples, not single persons, to secure an order. British law, under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 2008, allows “husband and wife,” “civil partners of each other,” or “two persons who are living as partners in an enduring family relationship and are not within prohibited degrees of relation to each other” to apply for a parental order allowing them to take custody of a child born to a surrogate mother.
In May, the single father won a High Court ruling, and the government has since agreed to update the law to reflect the omission of single parents. Unfortunately, as we are well accustomed to here in the United States, the government works at a slow pace, and the child is still considered a ward of the court:
[U]nder UK law, the surrogate is treated as the legal mother and she is the only person in the UK who has the responsibility and authority to make decisions about the child’s day-to-day care.
This means that [the father] and [son] face potential problems.
“When he’s older, I can’t choose which school he goes to. I took him to hospital once and they asked me ‘do you have parental responsibility?'”, [the father] said.
“Not being able to apply for a passport was an issue – because I wanted to take my son away on a trip for a short period of time.”
You can access the full interview here.
While it is possible for the father to adopt his son, he has instead decided to challenge the law so that other single British parents will not find themselves in similar circumstances. In the meantime, it is important for professionals working with intended parents to counsel their clients when working with single parents from Britain.