There is unlikely to be a single element of our everyday lives which is not touched by Coronavirus. For most, that means sheltering in one place and only travelling for essentials such as food, medicine and to care for vulnerable people. The impact on international travel is one of the most severely impacted sectors, causing chaos for intended parents currently in the middle of an international surrogacy arrangement.
So what happens if that is you? The advice will be different depending on where your surrogacy arrangement is taking place and the specific travel restrictions in place from country to country, with the situation changing and evolving day to day.
My baby has already been born abroad and we are still here with them – how do we get them home?
If you are already abroad with your new baby, it is important that you get in touch with the British embassy as quickly as possible. Many jurisdictions, including the US, have as a matter of course closed all in-person passport applications, which would ordinarily be the way to have your child granted a passport to travel to the UK on.
Many of us are currently putting pressure on them to treat these applications as urgent. It is important that you also make contact with the UK authorities as soon as possible to impress upon them the importance of you being allowed to return to the UK with your child(ren) as soon as possible. If you need support to do that, we can help, just get in touch.
My baby will be born abroad in the next few months – can I travel to be there for the birth?
The Foreign Office has advised all UK citizens not to travel overseas, and certain travel restrictions are already in place. It is likely that, given the Foreign Secretary’s recent statement, more restrictions will arrive in the coming weeks. It is important to keep an eye on the travel restrictions as they apply to you and make plans with enough time.
There are a number of considerations to take into account when travelling to be there, including health and travel insurance implications, any increased risk of infection and the legal status of your child in the country where the surrogacy is taking place. If you are not able to travel to be there, it is important that you put in place emergency guardianship documents so that someone suitable can care for your child until you are able to get there. If this applies to you please be in touch with us as soon as possible.
I have just returned to the UK, can I still obtain a Parental Order during the lockdown?
Whilst the family courts in England have made specific provision for Parental Order applications to continue despite the lockdown, the position is less clear in Scotland with only ‘urgent’ child related matters being allowed to take place at present. We are of the view that Parental Order applications would be considered urgent and therefore could be pursued on a ‘cause shown’ basis. We are able to assist with drafting and lodging the petition on your behalf. Even if you require to be in lockdown, we are able to meet with you using easily accessible remote video conference facilities to help make the process as easy as possible for you.
If you have a surrogacy arrangement in place at the moment, we would recommend a few actions you can take to ensure that this continues as safely as possible for everyone concerned. That includes making sure everyone has up to date Wills, that you are all kept up to date on the travel restrictions as they apply to both countries, and any lockdown or quarantine requirements.