Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Men yearning to become single-parent fathers

Jake Docker and his three week old twin daughters Pippa and Millie
According to a report last weekend in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, a growing number of Australian men are becoming single fathers via overseas surrogates. 

Support group, Surrogacy Australia, said single men were longing to be fathers.  They were not deterred by a commercial surrogacy ban introduced in New South Wales in 2010.

The report featured the story of Jake Docker, 27.  Jake had just recently brought home his three-week-old twin daughters Pippa and Millie, born to an Indian surrogate in early January.

Said Jake:  "I just wanted to be a dad as long as I could remember… It was now or never, go it alone or don't do it at all, so I only just scraped in.”.

Mr Docker, who is gay, said there was no other way for him to pursue fatherhood in Australia.

Hundreds of Australian couples - gay and heterosexual - and single men have opted for Indian surrogates because they are a quarter of the price of an American surrogate, which can cost up to AU$200,000.

Surrogacy Australia spokesman Sam Everingham said: "We are seeing hundreds of men lining up for surrogacy overseas, some are gay, some are heterosexual but I've been amazed by the number of single men walking through our doors. They are taking on the responsibility of having a kid on their own, but women have done it for decades."

What is the situation in England and Wales?  Well, the law does not prohibit single people of either gender pursuing surrogacy.  However, they cannot then seek a Parental Order under the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Act 2008; that route is only open to a couple who are married or in a civil partnership, or who are living in an “enduring relationship”.  So, single people who have a child through surrogacy need to look to other mechanisms to ensure they are legally recognised as the parent or carer for their child.  The most obvious alternative is adoption proceedings, which themselves may be protracted and difficult.  

It seems anachronistic that a single person is entitled to adopt a child, but cannot be recognised as a parent.  This makes surrogacy unavailable as a route by which a single person may fulfil a yearning to have a child.  This differing approach based upon the relationship status of the individuals concerned cannot be justified, and must be reconsidered.

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