Before you travel:
- Prepare all your documents in advance
- You should bring to the US original copies of important documents for any IP’s, including the following : birth certificate; civil partnership certificate or marriage certificate; and obviously your passport.
- Bring photocopies of the main page of your passport; and several other documents such as driving license; tax bill; utility bills; your surrogacy agreement etc.
- Print 2 copies of the following documents if they apply to you: Parental Responsibility Agreement; Step-Parent Parental Responsibility Agreement; British passport application; US passport application.
- Understand the legal issues around Parental Orders, the Parental Responsibility Agreement, and the Step- Parent Parental Responsibility Agreement. A good web site (as of 2010) for this is http://www.alternativefamilylaw.co.uk and links to some of these forms are present there. Also the UK government provides a document called “Inter-country surrogacy & the immigration rules” which is helpful, via www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk. The authors did not seek legal guidance from a UK solicitor and do not believe such is necessary (see Legal Stuff).
- Let your airline know you will need a return infant ticket; by doing so in advance it may be cheaper than arranging once you are in the US.
Pack items that your baby / babies will need. Here are some suggestions, but more exhaustive lists are no doubt available on line / in books:
- Carry cot / car seat adapter / pram. Likely less expensive in the US and then used to return with your baby / babies
- Baby clothes (again you may find them cheaper in the US), including a hat
- Spare collapsible bag (likely you will have more to return with, and some airlines allow the baby to have a luggage allowance; alternatively travel out with a partially empty suitcase)
- Nappy changing bag and waterproof mat for changing
- Baby harness
- 8 baby bottles, brush & sterilizer. You may wish to take the same milk formula that you plan to continue back in the UK (e.g. Aptamil). Reckon on 1 kg for each week you will be in the US
- (20) muslin towels to protect you from sickly babies
- Items for bathing & cleaning
- Travel cot (again maybe buy in the US)
In the US
- Before birth, it is worth having your US lawyers make the hospital aware of the importance of having the birth mother & genetic father on the birth certificate. This is necessary to obtain a UK passport. Avoid listing both “fathers” only on the form, even though this is available in some states. If fatherhood is not clear genetic testing is possible through DNA Diagnostics centre who are recognized by the Home Office if needed for a Parental Order...(it is not clear to the authors that the DNA test is officially required at any stage, and note it costs about $1000).
- Consider whether you wish to have stem cells from the babies cord blood stored. This can be done at most hospitals but is costly and requires forward planning.
- After the birth (at least in Wisconsin), the surrogate completes a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form, stating the name of the father. Therefore this may need to be completed & notarized once paternity is known. Most hospitals have staff members who can act as notaries, and witness the signatures. Note that it may be preferable to request not to have a social security number issued for the infant (he/she can always get this later) otherwise he/she would have to submit an annual US tax return.
- Once the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form has been lodged with the State Vital Records Office a birth certificate is issued, with the surrogate mother & genetic father listed as parents. Your lawyers may well co-ordinate this. Get 5 copies of the birth certificate.
- The UK and US passport applications can occur once the birth certificate is available. Links and forms are given in Links & Books.
- For the UK passport, someone in a position of responsibility who has known the genetic father for more than 2 years has to counter-sign. Such positions include most professionals e.g. teachers so should be locally available to you but if not you will need to send the application & infant photographs for signing by courier. The surrogate has to sign a declaration stating she was un-married at the time of the birth - for a sample version see Links & Books. The UK Embassy website states that it can take up to six weeks to issue a passport. The authors obtained one in 3 days by alerting, in advance, a very helpful Vice-Consul in the Consular Section of the British Embassy. It would be worth calling the Embassy before leaving the UK and making this contact. The infant can enter the UK freely, with no need for entry clearance, once a passport has been issued.
- The US passport can be obtained using an outside agency or can be obtained at a regional office, using the DS-11 form (see Links and useful documents). If the passport is needed within 14 days this requires attendance at a regional office. The US Bureau of Consular Affairs provides all the information.
- The Parental Responsibility Forms can be witnessed by the local Consulate. If doubt, get them to confirm with the Family Division (+44 207 947 6980) . Again, it would be worth contacting the local Consulate in advance to prepare for this, as the surrogate will also have to attend to sign...
- Have the surrogacy agency complete the “Consent to Travel” document in advance (two versions can be prepared if paternity is uncertain). An example is given in the section, Links and useful documents. This can be signed and notarized when other legal papers need signing (await instruction from your lawyers).
- The infant should have a travel insurance policy. It seems easier for the parent to take out a new policy at the time of birth which allows infants to be included.
- Wills need to be updated, once paternity is known, to ensure that the terminology is correct. Similarly, pension rights need to be attributed to the new born if applicable.
- In one of the authors’ case, the post- natal support from the hospital was excellent, and there was no need for other support (e.g. maternity nurse). The other author found a maternity nurse to be very helpful!