Government guidance has been issued for couples considering surrogacy in England and Wales, for the first time.
Couples planning to enter into an agreement with a surrogate are recommended to use written agreements covering conception, expenses and any planned relationship between the surrogate and the child. They are also encouraged to use established surrogacy organisations in the UK to find a surrogate, rather than travelling abroad to clinics or using informal arrangements.
The guidance also advises that children born via surrogacy be told how they were born. 'Research suggests that openness, confidence and transparency about a child's origins from an early age (pre-school) is the best way to talk to children about their identity and origins,' the guidance for couples states.
The document also suggests creating a joint birth plan between the surrogate and intended parents, and understanding hospitals' discharge policies, in the event that the baby would have to stay longer in hospital than the surrogate.
The organisations Surrogacy UK and Brilliant Beginnings worked with the Department of Health on the guidance documents.
'We know that surrogacy can be a complex journey which is why we have created a guide fit for modern society, one which balances the need for emotional support with clear legal explanations, for surrogates and intended-parents alike,' said Health Minster Jackie Doyle-Price.
Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust, added: 'This guidance from Government will be a trustworthy resource for people to use for their surrogacy journey and should serve to help surrogacy flourish in England and Wales.'
The guidance comes as increasing numbers of couples are looking to surrogacy to have children, including those with fertility issues and same-sex couples. A total of 368 parental orders were made in 2016 to transfer legal parenthood to the intended parents from a surrogate, up from 194 in 2012.