There are now many options outside traditional family-building for those who need or wish to pursue another route.
Two of the most common pathways are adoption and surrogacy but it is often difficult to determine how they differ and which is the right choice for you.
Adopting an unknown child
Adoption is possibly the best-known alternative family-building method. Steeped in history, it is often the first consideration for people who are told they are infertile. It can be an incredibly fulfilling option for both prospective parents and children, by providing a loving and permanent home for a child who would otherwise remain in the care system.
However, it is a notoriously difficult route to follow; with a plethora of initial assessments, long waiting periods and no guarantee of being matched with a child.
It is possible to adopt both in the UK and overseas, in certain destinations. Foreign countries are often thought of as having a shorter waiting list and more choice in terms of the children available.
This can be the case but it is important to thoroughly research your options first as well as the legal aspects of pursuing international adoption so that you are aware of which legal system/s you will need to engage with to provide you with parental status for your child and your child the right to reside in the UK.
It is also important to consider what needs your child might have and how you could support those effectively. This is something to explore and discuss with the adoption agency throughout the process.
Ultimately, adoption can be an incredibly rewarding option if you are open to offering an existing child a safe and secure family environment and dealing with any special needs they may have as a result of being an adopted child.
Surrogacy offers a unique way to have a biological child where you are unable to carry a pregnancy yourself. Both traditional and gestational surrogacy are legal in the UK, meaning that pursuing an arrangement does not necessarily involve costly fertility treatment.
However, arrangements can be difficult to set up here and international arrangements pose complex legal issues. Despite this, surrogacy continues to grow as a family-building alternative.
Many UK prospective parents travel abroad to pursue surrogacy, largely because surrogacy-friendly destinations offer better access to surrogate mothers and therefore a quicker process.
However, safe and tested international options are few and far between, making it essential to do your due diligence in advance of signing up to a foreign agency. If your child is born abroad it is also crucial to ensure that he or she will be able to travel home safely with you after birth, so that you can settle into family life as soon as possible.
Wherever your arrangement takes place you will need to secure your legal position after birth – by way of a court application for a parental order, if this is available to you, or other solution if not.
Surrogacy represents an excellent family-building opportunity for all types of prospective parents, but it is crucial to seek advice in advance of committing to an arrangement so that you understand the particular process involved.
Are you considering pursuing surrogacy abroad? Download our free guide and find out all you need to know.