International surrogacy is becoming increasingly popular for couples from Ireland, where surrogacy isn’t currently regulated. While the country’s legislature is evaluating a new law governing surrogacy arrangements, critics fear the law’s provisions, as proposed, don’t go far enough to protect intended parents and their children.
The proposed changes to the General Scheme of the Assisted Reproduction Bill would recognize children born through domestic, altruistic surrogacy in Ireland as the intended parents’ legal children. However, children born through surrogacy arrangements in other countries or through commercial surrogacy arrangements in any country would not benefit from the law. In fact, the new law would not allow intended parents in those circumstances to establish legal parentage upon returning to Ireland.
In fact, the intended mother – even if she is also the child’s genetic parent – would not be able to be recognized as such. Incredibly, the gestational surrogate would be the child’s legal mother. The intended mother could petition to become her child’s legal guardian, but that legal relationship would end when the child turned 18. If the intended father is also the child’s genetic father, he could be formally recognized as his child’s legal parent through a court proceeding. So, for same-sex male couples where one father is genetically-related to their child born through surrogacy, that parent would be the only legally recognized parent.
Currently, an estimated 68 percent of Irish children born through surrogacy are born in the Ukraine, with still others born in the U.S., Canada, and other countries. Therefore, the new law would have a limited positive impact on some Irish families while limiting the rights of the majority of couples who choose to start or add to their families through international surrogacy.
Reproductive rights groups will be watching this legislation carefully to see whether Irish policymakers will enact the law as proposed or will instead seek modification that will better protect children born through surrogacy and their parents.
If you are considering growing your family through assisted reproductive technology, please contact us today. After a review of your needs, we will draft any requisite contracts, provide you with a thorough legal consultation to explain the contract terms, and finalize your parental rights, if necessary.