PG42. Surrogacy

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Specific definitions of key concepts used by safeguarding practitioners are available through the Glossary.
Caption: Surrogacy table


Surrogacy is legal in the UK, with reasonable expenses only being paid to the surrogate mother. Surrogacy arrangements are not legally enforceable.


It is illegal to advertise for a surrogate in the UK. Most people have a family member or friend willing to carry the child, others join a surrogacy organisation.


Partial surrogacy uses the egg of the surrogate mother and the sperm of the intended father, thus the baby is biologically related to the intended father and the surrogate mother. This can make it difficult for the surrogate mother to give up her own biological child, but also for the intended mother to accept a child which her husband has fathered with another woman.


Total surrogacy uses the egg of the intended mother combined with the sperm of her husband or donor sperm. A baby conceived by this method has no biological connection to the surrogate mother, making it easier for her to give up the child she is carrying.


A professional in any agency may become aware of the surrogacy arrangement and have concerns about:

  • The suitability of the intended parents to care for the child;
  • Conflict between the adults in a surrogacy arrangement e.g. that the surrogate mother is under pressure to relinquish the child against her will (see, as appropriate, Domestic Abuse Procedure); and / or
  • The expenses for carrying the child being reasonably incurred" having regard to Section 54(8) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 or not.


An unborn or newborn child in these circumstances could be at risk of physical and emotional abuse and / or neglect. See Recognising Abuse and Neglect Procedure.

Significant harm is defined in Responding to Concerns of Abuse and Neglect Procedure, Concept of significant harm as a situation where a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, a degree of physical, sexual and / or emotional harm (through abuse or neglect) which is so harmful that there needs to be compulsory intervention by child protection agencies into the life of the child and their family.


In these circumstances, all staff have a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of the unborn or newborn child, and professionals should follow the procedures for referral to local authority children's social care set out in Referral and Assessment Procedure.


Local authority children's social care responses should be proportionate to what are likely to be very individual circumstances, and legal advice should be sought.