A British man who entered a commercial surrogacy agreement with an American woman has been told that, because of UK law, he cannot be named as the child’s legal parent.
The boy at the centre of the case, who is now over 12 months old, was born in Minnesota after the British man paid a surrogate there £30,000 so he could become a father using his own sperm and a donor egg.
However, Family Judge Sir James Munby – who is also the president of the family division of the High Court of England and Wales – decided that the genetic father’s single status means he cannot legally be recognised as the boy’s father.
Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, parenting orders in surrogacy cases can only be granted to couples, regardless of whether they are married or cohabiting, heterosexual or same-sex.
Surrogacy laws are complex in the UK and are unlike adoption laws that allow single people to become parents.
However, as a result of Sir James Munby having no power to grant the man a parenting order, the child has become a ward of court.
The decision essentially leaves him with no legal parent in Britain, despite a ruling by an American court that the British father is the child’s sole parent, with the full consent of the surrogate mother.
Single-parent surrogacy issues have previously been discussed by the Government, but no amendments have been made to allow single people to obtain parenting orders.
However, the boy’s biological father can still launch a separate legal challenge if he argues that the 2008 Act is “incompatible” with his human rights.