Until recently, the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 2008 (HFEA) has only recognized couples as legal parents to children conceived through surrogacy arrangements. But, thanks to new legislation, single individuals are now eligible for parental orders for children born through surrogacy.
Single parents are able to apply for a birth certificate showing their name as the child’s parent. The law now covers both singles who just became parents as well as those who are currently parenting surrogate-born children, eliminating the legal limbo families face when they are not legally recognized as a parent in their home country.
When the law was last revisited in 2008, the legislature consciously did not apply it to singles. Their reasoning was that single parents should not be granted automatic parentage but should instead undergo an adoption process to determine whether they were fit to parent a child on their own. A single father whose application for parentage under the HFEA was denied last year challenged the law in court. After reviewing the matter, the Family Court declared that the existing legislation was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The new law gives existing single parents who are biologically related to their children a new six month window to apply for parentage, rather than applying to legally adopt their children. This change recognizes the changing view toward surrogacy and assisted reproduction in our society, encouraging rather than discouraging the practice.