UK surrogacy costs and laws, as Chrissy Teigen and John Legend welcome fourth child via surrogate

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, pictured earlier this year, they have welcomed a fourth child via surrogacy. (Getty Images)
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have revealed they have welcomed a fourth child via surrogacy. (Getty Images) (Jemal Countess/GA via Getty Images)

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have welcomed a fourth child via surrogacy.

The model, 37, announced the news on Instagram, saying her heart is “officially full”. The couple have named their son Wren Alexander Stephens.

Teigen and Legend welcomed a daughter, Esti, via IVF in January and have two older children: Luna, seven, and Miles, five.

Read more: Chrissy Teigen has baby boy via surrogate with John Legend: ‘I’ve always wanted four children!’ Bang Showbiz, 2-min read

Paris Hilton and Carter Reum have also become parents via surrogacy. (Getty Images)
Paris Hilton and Carter Reum have also become parents via surrogacy. (Getty Images) (FilmMagic)

Celebrities who have welcomed children via surrogacy

Elton John and his husband David Furnish also have two sons via a surrogate and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo welcomed twins last year via a surrogate.

Earlier this year, Paris Hilton revealed she and her husband, Carter Reum, had welcomed their first child via surrogacy.

Kim Kardashian also used surrogacy to expand her family due to her struggle with preeclampsia and placenta accreta during her first two previous pregnancies.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Rebel Wilson are two other celebrities who opted to use a surrogate.

Read more: Rebel Wilson gives baby born by surrogate the middle name Elizabeth 'after the late Queen', Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read

Increased interest in surrogacy

It’s not just celebrities for whom surrogacy is becoming an option. Statistics reveal that the number of parents having a baby using a surrogate in England and Wales has almost quadrupled in the 12 years leading up to when figures were released in 2020.

Parental orders, which transfer legal parentage from the surrogate, rose from 117 in 2011 to 413 in 2020.

The report, by the University of Kent and My Surrogacy Journey, a non-profit organisation which supports surrogates and intended parents, also revealed two-thirds of applicants are now mixed-sex couples often in their 30s or 40s.

Read more: How will planned changes to the law on surrogacy affect UK parents?, Evening Standard, 3-min read

There are some differences to surrogacy laws in the UK compared to the US. (Getty Images)
There are some differences to surrogacy laws in the UK compared to the US. (Getty Images) (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is when a woman carries a pregnancy for another couple or individual. In most cases it is because someone cannot carry a pregnancy themselves for health reasons or because they are men in a same-sex relationship.

According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), there are two types of surrogacy:

Full surrogacy (also known as host or gestational surrogacy) is when the eggs of the intended mother or a donor are used and there is therefore no genetic connection between the baby and the surrogate.

Partial surrogacy (also known as straight or traditional surrogacy) involves the surrogate’s egg being fertilised with the sperm of the intended father. If you go down this route, we recommend you have treatment at a licensed UK fertility clinic.

The Law Commission has proposed changes to UK Surrogacy laws, which it hopes will protect all parties. (Getty Images)
The Law Commission has proposed changes to UK Surrogacy laws, which it hopes will protect all parties. (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

How much does surrogacy cost in the UK?

You’re not allowed to pay a surrogate in the UK. However, you are responsible for reimbursing any reasonable expenses that the surrogate incurs such as maternity clothes, travel expenses and loss of earnings.

According to Surrogacy UK, intended parents (IPs) should budget approximately £20,000 for straight surrogacy and £30,000 for host surrogacy – this includes all expenses for the surrogate, insurance, wills and clinic costs (for the host).

A surrogate's expenses can be from anywhere between £7,000 and £15,000, depending on her personal circumstances.

There may be unforeseen circumstances such as bed rest, or medical issues that might mean a surrogate's expense increase during pregnancy. If a surrogate needs to increase her expenses by over £1,000 during the pregnancy, then it is referred to the Board of Trustees so that it can be approved.

Read more: Becoming a surrogate mother in the UK: ‘You’re not giving them away, you’re giving them back’, Yahoo Life UK

The number of couples turning to surrogacy in the UK is on the rise. (Getty Images)
The number of couples turning to surrogacy in the UK is on the rise. (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

What is the law surrounding surrogacy in the UK? explains that as it stands at the moment if you use a surrogate, they will be the child’s legal parent at birth, but proposed new changes by the Law Commission would change that.

Currently, if the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership, their spouse or civil partner will be the child’s second parent at birth, unless they did not give their permission.

However, legal parenthood can be transferred by parental order or adoption after the child is born. Once you have a parental order for the baby, the surrogate will have no further rights or obligations to the child.

Again, new proposals would change this so that IPs could become a surrogate child's legal parents at birth, with the surrogate able to withdraw her consent up to six weeks after the birth.

But at this stage she would have to apply for a parental order to obtain legal parental status instead of the intended parents.

If there is disagreement about who the child’s legal parents should be, the courts will make a decision based on the best interests of the child.

What is a surrogacy agreement?

The intended parents and surrogate can record how they want the arrangement to work in a surrogacy agreement.

It is important to note, however, that surrogacy agreements are not enforceable by UK law, even if you have a signed document with your surrogate and have paid their expenses.

What are the rules regarding birth when it comes to surrogacy?

Surrogacy laws and arrangements vary between countries and can be considerably complex.

“For most couples who prefer the absolute certainty and protection afforded by the law, they travel abroad to countries such as the US or Canada for their surrogacy arrangements,” Andrew Spearman, head of family law and surrogacy specialist at A City Law Firm previously told Yahoo UK.

“In the US the surrogacy is governed by contract law and all the rights, payments and ‘rules’ during the surrogacy (for both surrogate and intended parents) are codified in this one document.”

The contact will make provisions specifically to deal with: who is to be present at the birth, who gets to first hold the child and whether the surrogate mother has the opportunity at all, parental rights generally and at what point the surrogate surrenders custody of the child.

Stock picture of a mum and baby. (Getty Images)
Surrogacy is rising in the UK. (Getty Images) (Getty)

Are surrogates entitled to maternity leave?

In the UK, surrogates have the right to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, regardless of whether she keeps the baby or not.

“What a birth mother does after the child is born has no impact on her right to maternity leave,” the Government site explains.

This is another area proposed changes could address, with the Law Commission recommending that intended parents should be entitled to improved employment rights including access to a benefit equivalent to maternity allowance and being able to take time off work to attend antenatal appointments.

Where to go for further information and advice?

Additional reporting PA.