Gay Birth Right UK

October 6, 2014

We are Rory and Nick. A gay couple at the very start of our journey to become parents. We met in back in 2012 against the backdrop of the London Olympics. London, in fact the nation, was abuzz with the games, and out first date was at the giant screens in Victoria Park to grab whatever of the action we could. 

We never did get to see the action on the screens because we had purchased a picnic to eat while we did so, but security wasn’t allowing people in with their own food. So instead we sat in the park adjacent to the venue, ate our picnic and talked about probably everything under the sun, and indeed the moon. 

One of the conversations that came up was children, our desire to be fathers and to one day have a family of our own. Thats something that has persisted in our conversations and aspirations 
ever since. At that point we were ‘long distance’. Rory lived in London and Nick in Suffolk. This 
added to our lives, Nick rekindling his love affair with the London, and Rory taking comfort in the headspace that rural Suffolk gave him away from the insanity of the city. 

As time passed by (as anyone who has done long distance knows, and also knows they have found ‘the one’) we decided that we wanted or more likely needed to be under one roof together. 

We have a lovely but not lavish home Hertfordshire. We don’t own, we rent but feel that we have fallen on our feet in many ways. We have stumbled upon an amazing community of friends, becoming close in a short period of time, forming the kind of relationships you know will be enduring. One constant in our community is kids, who drop in and out on a regular basis to impart news, entertain our dogs or cajole sweets, or all three.

Society is not static, and one of the cornerstones of society, the family, has undergone a metamorphosis over time. The traditional ‘nuclear’ family has become supplemented by ‘modern’ families. Single parent families, same sex parents and kids being raised by extended family members are commonplace and accepted. 

Same sex couples share the same ‘potential to parent’ as anyone else, and we feel that bringing children into the world under the umbrella of a loving relationship regardless of the gender of the parents is nothing other than natural. 

We feel that the time has come for us to start our own family, to fulfil the natural desire to pass on our genes and experience the joys of parenthood. Gay intended parents do have options. Surrogacy, adoption and co-parenting are the typical routes for same sex intended parents.After a huge amount of research, We have settled on the route of gestational surrogacy, which involves our sperm, a donated egg and a surrogate into which the fertilised embryo is implanted. We potentially have our own egg donor, A close friend who has offered to make this amazing, altruistic gift. 

We have had many conversations surrounding adoption, and feel this is something we would like to do subsequently to having our own biological children. When asked by someone who has their own biological children “why don’t you adopt?” we think it is fair to bounce that question right back.

We understand we are not the first gay couple to walk this path, in fact we take heart and encouragement from those who have travelled this route and have their own families, and those like us who are embarking on their journey.

An important aspect of our campaign is our belief in ethical and legitimate surrogacy, We don’t consider anything else a valid basis under which to bring new lives into this world. We are not prepared to exploit surrogates and legal loopholes in developing nations. We also want to avoid the uncertainties that changing political landscapes in some developing nations throw up. We are instead opting for 
the favourable legal climate in developed nations like the USA where all concerned are protected, and appropriately compensated for their part in the process. Some states over others provide greater legal assurances for intended parents and surrogates.

Our campaign isn’t about alienating anyone, in fact its inclusive of all intended parents who feel stifled by UK surrogacy law, and availability of fertility treatment via the NHS. It does however remain a fact that a small proportion of infertile heterosexual couples require to use surrogacy as a route to parenthood, whereas its 100% of gay couples that need this support.

Our campaign is polarising opinions surrounding surrogacy, funding and the modern family. Which in one sense is brilliant because we want to open a debate and start a conversation surrounding surrogacy here in the UK, and access for gay intended parents to fertility treatment on the NHS. In another sense we have fully opened ourselves up to scrutiny, criticism and, from some quarters, abuse and 

We have been called beggars, and accused of running a scam. We have been told to ‘save up like everyone else’, but why in this age should everything be the same as it was just because that’s how its always been?We are asking for donations to undertake our journey and that has been our position from the outset. Our intentions are clear and we are not hiding anything from anyone. For us it will be many, many years before we would be able to undertake this challenge without financial assistance. Our campaign has a pragmatic and modern approach to the issue. Why should the ‘right to parent’ be 
the preserve of those able to afford it?

We want to provide transparency to our  benefactors in terms of any donations made and their appropriate use, so we are taking advice on how to set this up for that to be so. We are also pledging that should we raise funds over and above that required, we will use these assets to assist other intended parents towards their goal. So there will subsequently be a donations mechanism set up, with financial and legal oversight.

We think its fair to explain what we believe to be the facts around UK surrogacy law, and where they impact on intended parents. Commercial surrogacy, so the advertising of or for, including that by third parties and payment beyond what a court deems reasonable expenses, is illegal in the UK. It is legal to enter into a surrogacy agreement in the UK, but they are unenforceable so neither of the parties 
have any legal protection. In cases of gestational surrogacy, the woman who gives birth to a child is regarded as the child’s mother even if she is biologically unrelated to the child. If the surrogate is married when she becomes pregnant, her husband is considered the legal father.

UK law does not recognise the intended parents as the legal parents of their child from birth. A parental order must be applied for more than six weeks but less than six months after the birth. The parental order permanently extinguishes the surrogate’s parental responsibility for the child which is then passed to the intended parents, assuming a number of provisions are met. This creates a period of ‘legal 
limbo’ which can potentially complicate medical care and decisions, intended parents rights under employment law and child care and create stress and uncertainty for all parties concerned. We have been lucky enough to have found a guide who is assisting us through the process. He is a gay father who has 3 beautiful children born to him and his partner through gestational surrogacy. He has assisted many others through this process and is providing us with priceless advice and guidance. We have also been courting fertility centres in the USA and are sure we have found a centre that is right for us. 
We have met their key staff face to face and are convinced that their ethics and approach match our expectations. We will be revealing our team in the near future, and stepping up our campaign in the form of events and linking up with other partners to spread the word and move things forward.

You can follow Rory and Nick on Twitter here.

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