One UK Couple's Surrogacy Timeline

A UK-based gay couple shared their experience of US surrogacy with us between 2009 and 2011. This timeline was updated on 4th Feb 2012 based on feedback from a UK immigration lawyer, and review by other parents. Contact us to share your own surrogacy story.

Key parameters

  • Country: US-based surrogacy
  • Surrogacy agency: Circle Surrogacy (Boston, MA, USA)
  • IVF clinic: Connecticut Fertility Associates (Bridgeport, CT, USA)
  • IVF parameters: 2 embryos implanted, one from each father, with one baby resulted
  • Bio-Dad: originally a US citizen, now dual with UK citizenship obtained prior to birth
  • Non bio-Dad: UK citizen
  • Surrogate: resided in Utah, USA

Getting started

DateMilestoneComments
Dec 2009Signed contract with surrogacy agency (Circle)
7th April 2010Made contact with candidate egg-donor, chosen from Circle’s own list.
8th May 2010We were in the US and met with our potential egg donor for dinner and mutually agreed to proceed subject to medical and legal termsMeeting her for us was an amazing experience.  Understanding her motivation and seeing her enthusiasm were key.
24th July 2010Made it to the top of agency's UK-appropriate (i.e. unmarried with medical insurance) surrogacy waiting list. Flew to Utah shortly thereafter to meet with candidate surrogate and her family. Agreed to proceed subject to medical and legal termsMeeting the surrogate could not have gone better and we also saw that her partner intended to play a central and very positive part in the process.
28th Sept 2010Contract finalised with egg donorCommunication through agency.
28th Sept 2010Contract finalised with surrogateCommunication through agency. However, the surrogate and her partner had made us aware of their key concerns / objectives beforehand. Hence we had good communication with them on the principles of our relationship but resorted to the agency for the details and any awkward topics.

IVF

Screening

DateMilestoneComment
Mid Sept 2010Surrogate visited IVF clinic for screening
Mid Sept 2010Intended parents visited IVF clinic for screening
Nov 2010Egg donor visited IVF clinic for screeningIt was ironic that we had the egg donor lined up long before the surrogate, and yet we did not get her screening done till 2 months later. In retrospect we should have organised this step a bit sooner, we waited then our donor was really busy by the time we got it all started. It meant a little delay, but not a big deal.

Procedure

DateMilestoneComment
Late Dec 2010IVF clinic has all the test results back from donor and surrogate and declares timeline for a birth date of mid November 2011
26th Feb 2011Egg retrieval, sperm collection, fertilisation beganWe had dinner with our egg donor and her friend the night before.16 viable eggs were retrieved, 12 fertilised successfully
28th Feb 2011Embryo assessment (day 3)Doctors advised waiting to day 5
2nd March 2011Embryo assessment (day 5, blastocycst). Implantation4 of our embryos were deemed to be viable (2 from each intended father). We implanted the best looking one from each father, the other two were frozen. We had hoped for more in case we needed a second or third try, or for a later round of surrogacy but we can’t complain as you will see below - it worked!

Gestation

DateMilestoneComment
10th March 2011Pee-on-a-stick test (positive)A very unofficial test, but our surrogate and her partner were excited to test as early as possible and researched which of the over-the-counter pregnancy test kits were the most sensitive (they used ‘ClearBlue’)
12th March 2011Formal HCG-level test (positive)HCG levels continued to rise nicely but not as steeply as they would typically if it were a twin pregnancy, though our IVF clinic kept telling us it is difficult to interpret the numbers with full confidence. Interesting websites:- http://www.betabase.info/- http://www.ivf.ca/duedate.php- http://www.babymed.com/tools/hcg-calculator
2nd April 201112 week ultrasoundOur surrogate emailed us scans of the ultrasound, and uploaded the 2D video to YouTube
May onwardsUltrasounds roughly every month including the big 22 week scan.We tried to video Skype with our surrogate about every 2 weeks, they always emailed us the scans or put them up onto YouTube etc for us to see. We made a trip over to attend the 22nd week scan with our surrogate and her partner - very exciting thing to do.
July 201122 week scan, meet Midwife, tour hospital, meet hospital social workers, meet hospital birth certificate team, select a paediatrician to see the baby in the immediate weeks after hospital discharge, spending quality time with surrogate and her familyAmazing experience seeing the scan, moving. The hospital tour helped a huge amount to understand all that would happen and how we would be involved throughout, assuming all went to plan and we were there before labour started of course. The hospital social workers were key to giving us comfort about all this. We selected a paediatrician practice in the hospital that would be covered by our surrogate’s insurance but it turns out (our agency explained) that her insurance only covered the baby through discharge from the hospital, from then costs were our responsibility. But it was key to us to meet the paediatrician so she was aware of / ready for our rather unique situation.

Birth

DateMilestoneComment
12th Oct 2011Baby boy born naturally at about 6:30pm UK time, 5.5 weeks earlyIntended parents were in close contact with surrogate’s partner and Doula once the doctors had determined that an early birth was going to happen despite attempts to halt it. Both at work a few hrs away from their home, they dashed back to be together just in time to watch the birth via video Skype. The hospital social worker actually suggested this - they were used to doing this for military families with soldiers overseas. They really made us feel included through the whole event, and after the baby had been taken care of the doctor spent some time with us talking us through how he was and what would need to happen in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) (incubator etc).
14th Oct 2011IPs arrive at the hospital in Utah at around 1am, just over a day laterSurrogate and her partner met us, showed us how to scrub in to enter NICU, etc. Meeting our son for the first time was... words are difficult to find. Hospital was fantastic - were expecting us and welcomed us and were very supportive. They also arranged for us to be accommodated for as long as we needed in the hospital guest house for a modest fee

Post-birth

DateMilestoneComment
14th Oct 2011DNA samples mouth swabs taken from baby and IPs within the hospital by a 3rd party testing agencyIPs pre-researched a suitable company ahead of time and were able to get them in the same day as we made the call. Local testing company sent samples off to central DDC (DNA Diagnostics Center) lab which the UK government seem to recognise.
18th Oct 2011DNA test results produced (electronic version)
19th Oct 2011DNA test results official notarised certificates arrived
20th October 2011Baby’s birth formally registered by the hospital (bio-Dad and surrogate signed). We were able to obtain certified copies from the local government office the next day (we bought 8 as they seem to be useful for various other applications).All of the social workers at the hospital were Notary Publics which proved to be very useful. Under Utah law we had just 10 days to register the baby - i.e. name needed! Good idea to line up all other docs that need signing by the surrogate or notarising at this time (especially as surrogate may want to get this all out of the way before taking some time out from it all).
25th October 2011Baby discharged from NICU after 13 days, we drove him home to the flat we rented locally for a monthWonderful day!
1st Nov 2011Submitted UK passport application via trackable mail to Washington DC processing centre. See below for the full list of documents we submitted.We had an email address for one of the managers at the processing centre in DC (obtained from previous IPs) and we emailed her in advance to clarify what we should send - the reply we got back suggested that our list of likely complete but that they may need more information once they have taken a look. They also stressed that all documents should be originals. Somewhat helpful but not super friendly or forthcoming.
18th Nov 2011Received email from passport processing centre in DC advising us that we needed to send a new signed statement by the surrogate that she is unmarried - they enclosed the correct format for us to use and a postal address for us to use. The email was not one that we could reply to or correspond further with (frustrating)See below for exact text. We believed this was redundant with a notarised letter we had already included but there you are.
21st Nov 2011Papers filed with Utah court seeking sole custody by bio Dad.Note that, based on advice from Circle, we deferred making this application until our son had been discharge from the NICU as until then we were on surrogate's health insurance and did not want to jeopardise that via her signing away her parental rights. We sustained some additional delay here awaiting surrogate's lawyer's feedback (he was just slow rather than troublesome).
30th Nov 2011Email correspondence (initiated by us) with our contact at the DC processing centre revealed that "your son's application is in the final stages of being processed. I am unable to give a stable time line as to when you will receive the passport as they are now issued from the UK. Generally it may take another 2 weeks or more."
6th Dec 2011We applied in person in Denver (where we had relocated to stay with family) to the US passport office. No appointment was required for Denver, (not so elsewhere) just:
  • Completed application form DS-11 + photo (note the US passport website has a nice application for sizing and cropping a photo you take yourself http://travel.state.gov/passport/pptphotoreq/pptphotoreq_5333.html)
  • $60 fee to expedite processing
  • Statement of Consent form signed by surrogate, and notarized.
  • Photocopy of surrogate's driving license as ID
  • Photocopy of bio-Dad's ID (US passport) as ID
  • Baby's birth certificate as proof of US citizenship
  • DNA certificate as proof of bio-Dad's relationship
  • Print out of flight details (<20days from application date in order to qualify for expedited route)
9th Dec 2011Utah court judge approved paternity order (custody)Given that we plan to obtain a parental order back in the UK, we view this as a formality to tidy up loose ends in the US, and perhaps most importantly protect our surrogate as it insulates her from any financial obligations
10th Dec 2011Received US passportAfter only four days!
19th Dec 2011Anxious to get home to see baby's grandparents (grandfather had just had a pacemaker fitted after an emergency trip to the hospital due to heart failure), we decided to pay the British Consulate in Denver a visit. They were very friendly and keen to help given the family medical emergency aspect, and quickly established that our son’s passport had not yet been approved: the Washington DC processing centre had written to the UK office to query something, but had then been sitting on the response. Denver consulate requested a rush on the passport, and it was finally approved later that day. Passport approved 49 days after submission. With this approval they said that they could issue us with an emergency travel doc but that, after review with a senior immigration officer by phone, told us that we were fine to travel on our son's US passport so long as we said he is only entering the UK as a visitor, and that we would re-enter him at a later date on his UK passport once we had it in hand (e.g. via day trip to France etc). We decided to go this route, and they emailed us the email trail confirming that the passport had been approved for us to use at the UK border.
20th Dec 2011Boarded evening flight Denver-LHR. All we had to show on check in / departure were our own UK passports, and baby's US passport. No permissions to travel, or custody docs were requested at any point. When we landed at LHR, immigration were very pleasant though were quick to determine that we consider London to be our permanent address, and yet our son only had a US passport and as such was clearly not 'visiting'. We briefly discussed the advice we had received from the Denver consulate. It was unclear whether they were able to see any notes in their computer system tied to our passports by Denver. They did say that they did not agree with the Denver advice, that our son was clearly not visiting, but that he could enter under an alternative status. After a query with a senior officer, our son was cleared for entry with a 6 month stamp "Leave to enter for 6 months - No recourse to public funds", on the understanding that we will exit and re-enter during this time (we actually told them we had specific plans to visit Ireland within 2 months, and they made a note of this). The baby's visa stamp will expire as soon as he leaves the country, so he would either have to get a new such stamp or use his UK passport once it arrives (our plan). They required us to produce no documentation beyond the passports. They were very courteous.
23rd Dec 2011UK passport arrives at our Denver address (grandparents)! Scan taken before FedExing onto us here in London ready for that trip to Ireland. Total passport processing time from receipt at DC processing center to arrival at requested US address: 53 days. At time of application, government website advised 42 calendar days.How to apply from the USAIncidentally, they mailed our application documents back to us ahead of the passport, without any covering letter and using 'USPS Priority Mail', which is untracked! It's unclear how one can ensure these vital documents are returned more securely but perhaps it can be requested in the cover letter with the application. The website says they use DHL but we don't believe DHL operates domestically in the US anymore.

Appendix - Documents submitted with UK passport application

LabelDocument TitleNotes
A1Passport Application formSigned by Bio-Father
A2Child's birth certificateUtah State issued
A32 x PhotoOne countersigned
A4Credit Card Form
A5Copy of email correspondence with a contact in Washington DC Passport Centre
B1Bio-Father's UK Passport
B2Bio-Father's UK Naturalisation Certificate
B3Bio-Father's US Birth Certificate
B4Bio-Father UK Salary Evidence (pay slips)NB we have since learned from a UK lawyer in this field that this is NOT REQUIRED (since the right to a passport is not tied in any way to parents' financial position)
C1Nonbio-Father' UK Passport
C2Nonbio-Father' UK Birth Certificate
C3Nonbio-Father UK Salary EvidenceNB we have since learned from a UK lawyer in this field that this is NOT REQUIRED (since the right to a passport is not tied in any way to parents' financial position)
C4Nonbio-Father & Bio-Father UK Civil Partnership Certificate
D1Surrogacy Contract (between IPs and surrogate)Original, on loan from 'Weltman Law Group'NB we have since learned from a UK lawyer in this field that this is NOT REQUIRED (and this has been verified with the Washington passport service)
D2Statement (1) from SurrogateThat she is the mother, that Bio-Father is the father, consent for Bio-Father to travel with child (including to UK)
D3Statement (2) from SurrogateThat she is single, consents to UK passport app, consents to Parental Order process
D4Driving license of SurrogateCopy
D5UK Parental & Step-Parent Parental Responsibility AgreementsCopies of documents we were planning to submit to UK courts. NOTE: In the end, we did not submit these to UK courts as they are redundant with the Parental Order process that we will initiate now that we are back in UK.
E1DNA Test ReportsProof positive for Bio-Father as genetic father, proof negative for Nonbio-FatherNB we have since learned from a UK lawyer in this field that this is NOT REQUIRED
E2IVF Clinic – treatment confirmation letterConnecticut Fertility Associates - they had a standard template and were used to this request
F1Nonbio-Father + Bio-Father UK driving license counterparts
F2Recent Bank Statement (Bio-Father)NB we have since learned from a UK lawyer in this field that this is NOT REQUIRED (since the right to a passport is not tied in any way to parents' financial position) [although we submitted these more as additional proof of our address than anything else, on the basis that more info is good and reduces the chance of delays from more info being requested]
F3Recent Mortgage Statement
F4Recent Mortgage Statement
F5Recent Bank Statement (Nonbio-Father)
F6TV License
F7Utility bill
F8Utility bill
F9Utility bill

Appendix - Required wording for the surrogate's declaration of marital status

Declaration of Mother's Marital Status

I, __________________________ the mother, certify that I was married/not married (delete as appropriate), at the time of the birth of _______________________on ______________________.If you were married at the time of the birth, please submit your original marriage certificate and divorce decree if applicable.

I understand that any false statement may result in the withdrawal of my child's British citizen status.

Signed:

Date:

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