What to expect from your surrogacy journey – practical tips and introducing the Parental Order Reporter

06 February 2024
What to expect from your surrogacy journey

The team at Edward Cooke Family Law have experience in guiding and assisting intended parents through the Parental Order process following surrogacy arrangements all around the world.

Regardless of the destination country of the surrogacy arrangement, one thing that remains the same is the appointment of a Parental Order Reporter.

Intended Parents are required to apply for a Parental Order to transfer the legal parentage from the Surrogate (and often her husband, if she is married) to the Intended Parents. Once an application for a Parental Order is made, a Parental Order Reporter will be appointed by the court.

What is a Parental Order Reporter?

The Parental Order Reporter is a social worker from the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) who has knowledge and experience of surrogacy and parental orders. They are  appointed to advise the court to ensure that decisions made are in a child’s best interests.

Why is a Parental Order Reporter needed for my surrogacy journey?

A Parental Order Reporter will consider the child’s best interests and investigate the circumstances of the surrogacy arrangement to recommend to the court whether a parental order should be made.

What will the Parental Order Reporter consider?

The Parental Order Reporter will consider all the circumstances and make any investigations they think necessary in order to make their recommendation to the court. The Parental Order Reporter will meet with the Intended Parents (usually at their home) and the child who is the subject of the application.

The welfare checklist

The Parental Order Reporter must take into account the welfare checklist at Section 1 of The Children Act 1989, which is set out below:

  • The Ascertainable Wishes and Feelings of the Child
  • The Child’s Physical, Emotional, and Educational Needs
  • The Likely Effect on the Child of Any Change in Circumstances
  • The Child’s Age, Sex, Background, and Any Relevant Characteristics
  • Any Harm the Child has Suffered or is at Risk of Suffering
  • The Capability of Each of the Child’s Parents
  • The Range of Powers Available to the Court

In addition to the welfare checklist, the Parental Order Reporter will take into account the criteria for making a parental order. Normally, by the time the Parental Order Reporter meets with the Intended Parents, their evidence (in the form of witness statements) has been filed at court and should answer the majority of any questions the Parental Order Reporter might have about how the Intended Parents meet the criteria for making a parental order.

Meeting with the Parental Order Reporter

Intended Parents should be open and honest with the Parental Order Reporter.

One thing that the Parental Order Reporter will want to know is how the Intended Parents’ plan to share information with their child about their surrogacy story. This might be particularly important where a child has been born using donor eggs or sperm. The Parental Order Reporter and the court will generally expect Intended Parents to be transparent about the child’s origins in the future as this is almost always considered to be in the child’s best interests. In some cases, the court could decide not to make a parental order if the Intended Parents intend to mislead their child about their origins in future.

Many of our clients are anxious about their meeting with the Parental Order Reporter but, from our experience, this is often a positive experience for all parties. A child born via surrogacy is usually much wanted and loved, and has been created to be part of the Intended Parents’ family, so the Parental Order Reporter will want to support the Intended Parents if at all possible. Provided all of the criteria for making a parental order are met, it would be unusual for a Parental Order Reporter not to recommend that the Parental Order is made.

If you would like to talk to one of our friendly, experienced team about your surrogacy journey, please do not hesitate to get in touch