'…and naturally you realise you will not be entitled to maternity leave….'
Those words were said to me during my introduction session
when I joined SurrogacyUK. Until that moment, I had no idea that I would not be
included in something I have always considered to be a basic right that any
parent would be entitled to.
I had been prepared for the fact that, despite my husband
and I being the genetic parents, the child (or children in my case) born with
the help of another woman were not considered to be mine for the first six months
of their lives. Technically their surrogate mother would have to give her permission
for vaccinations, hearing tests, and so on, until I got the parental order
through - usually about six months after the birth.
I had been prepared for the fact that under the current
law my right to bring my genetic children into the world could be
overridden on a whim, should the lady giving birth to them decide I was not
good enough to parent my children and choose to keep them. I had been prepared
for the fact that the woman carrying my child could be left with children she
did not want if, again on a whim, I decided that I really did not want these
children after all. That the law would put me in a position of putting 'lies'
down on the birth certificate - that the surrogate and her husband were the
parents of my genetic children - well, I could take that in my stride.
It was a huge surprise to learn that I would be
treated so differently on every front when I had already been made to feel so
different — oh, how I craved an uneventful existence. I thought that I was lucky enough to be
in a position to be able to have my children through surrogacy - it was a steep
climb up a rock face and, as any mountain climber knows, extremely worth every
ounce of blood, sweat and tears. That was before embarking on the amazing
roller coaster journey of being a parent - so taken for granted by most people.
I enjoyed (in retrospect) every tantrum, sleepless night, and complete feeling
of powerlessness like they were precious jewels. My food encrusted clothing was
worn proudly like a badge of honour - I felt proud to have joined that
Two weeks ago an announcement was made that was the
culmination of a lot of hard work from a lot of people and the extreme courage
of one woman. The Government was finally willing to grant parents of children
born through surrogacy arrangements the same maternity rights as everyone else
who becomes a parent through any other means. I was absolutely overcome with
joy that no other mum or dad needed to go through the process of begging for
the same rights as the other parents around them.
There are intended parents to
surrogacy arrangements out there who have given up jobs they love to be with
their vulnerable new born children. Others are pathetically grateful for any
offering their employer extends to them. There is still a long way to go and a
continued need to keep up the pressure to ensure that the Government proposals become
a reality — but, for me, it seems a huge step in the right direction for this
one aspect of surrogacy.
We still have a long way to go before we can
resolve the other issues that still remain in surrogacy.