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New data from English family court shows 350% growth in UK and international surrogacy over the last 12 years

New data obtained by Brilliant Beginnings from the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) – which is involved in every such court application – shows quite how dramatic the increase has been over the last 12 years. 

Although there are no absolute statistics on the numbers of surrogacy cases, the best UK data we have comes from the numbers of court applications made for parental orders (which make the intended parents their child’s legal parents after a surrogacy journey).

Surrogacy has been on the rise for years, and COVID-19 didn’t slow it down

In 2008 there were just 67 parental order applications received, only one of which involved an international surrogacy arrangement. Fast forward ten years and 2018 saw over 280 applications being made. The highest proportion of those involved surrogacy in England at around 120, followed by the USA at around 80.

In the years since, and despite a global pandemic, the number of people turning to surrogacy as a route to parenthood, and the women offering to help make these dreams come true, has continued to increase. During the past year over 300 applications for parental orders have been made, with almost half of them involving domestic surrogacy in the UK. Almost a third of all applications were supported by NGA Law, making us truly one of the leading experts in this aspect of family law.

Single parents and same-sex couples are increasingly seeking parental orders for surrogacy

More good news can be found in the data for parents in same-sex relationships. Since 2018 there have been 350 parental order applications from couples in a same-sex relationship. This is more than five times the number made in 2014, when just 69 were recorded. 

Single parents are also benefiting from the most recent updates to the legislation, allowing them to engage in surrogacy and apply for the same parental order as intended parent couples. In 2019, the first year that single parent surrogacy was legal in the UK, there were 38 applications and January to February of 2021 recorded 8. If we see the same number of applications being made throughout the rest of this year, a new high total could be achieved.

Parental orders are the best evidence for surrogacy rates

Parental orders are the best evidence available to show how many surrogacy journeys are being completed each year. The data is collated by Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service), an independent advisory organisation that works with families and courts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children in the UK on a range of cases, including surrogacy. They are less intrusive and complex than an adoption application, and also assumes the intended parents are already caring for their child, this being one of the criteria for being able to make an application for a parental order in the first place.

The landscape of surrogacy in the UK and abroad has changed dramatically in the years since the first known surrogate baby was born in 1984 and surrogacy is now becoming widely recognised as a pathway to parenthood. This data is incredibly positive and shows that surrogacy is continuing to grow as a viable option for people hoping to become parents.