Little Reuben is not so little anymore, he's six months old and probably 3 times the size of when he was born.
In surrogacy, when a baby is born the surrogate goes on the birth certificate as the mother, and if she is married her husband goes on as the father. It's a really odd law, and one that does annoy me a little bit. Even if there is no genetic link to the baby, the physical act of giving birth and being married dictates who the legal parents are.
When Reuben was born we went to the local registry office to register him, Jen and Chris had to do this on our behalf, but we all went together. It was quite funny as the particular district we were in tried to give us the wrong advice and were adamant Simon could go on the birth certificate as the "biological father" when I threw the question back at them of me being the biological mother, they were stumped. We got put in a side room until they clarified the law and eventually confirmed that we were correct and that it had to be our surrogate and her husband (it showed how rare surrogacy is, and how on the ball you need to be with understanding your rights as Intended Parents).
In order for this to be changed, we have to apply for a parental order. This effectively extinguishes the original birth certificate and a new parental order will be added into the official birth register, then Simon and I will officially be given the title of mother and father.
The process is a bit different between most parts of the U.K. and Scotland, but essentially you apply to the family courts to ask for a parental order, this can only be done once the baby is 6 weeks old, but also must be lodged before they are 6 months old. The courts then assign an officer to your case and they interview all parties involved, and then you are given a court date to attend a hearing.
In Scotland, you need a solicitor to act on the behalf of the intended parents (Simon and Myself), but in Wales, it's a really simple form that we could have filled in. We looked at filing the parental order paperwork in Wales and using my parent's address but we didn't want to do anything that could cause us harm in the future when applying for the court order. What if they did a surprise trip to my parent's house to find out we actually didn't live there?
Once the paperwork was lodged with the courts, the family court assigned a solicitor to represent Reuben, she came to interview us. She asked a lot of questions you'd expect, why surrogacy? How did we meet Jen? Did we use a clinic? She then had a look around our house to check that Reuben has a safe place to live, she even enquired about how many animals we have (just one furry dog!). It felt very strange to have someone come and assess whether you are fit to be a parent when I could have given birth naturally and nobody would have checked the state of my home. Ultimately she is just making sure that Reuben's best interests are taken care of. She also asked us "what will you do if the court order isn't granted?", it's a standard question she had to ask but one that we weren't prepared for, it sent us into a panic mode, did she know something we didn't? Did she think our house was too full of dog hair for a baby? A parental order is effectively a piece of paper at the end of the day, but it feels like a really important step in our surrogacy journey.
The next day the same solicitor had a video call with Jen and Chris, just to confirm they were happy and understood what the parental order was going to do, and to make sure they agreed with it.
We've just had an update that our court hearing is scheduled for the 21st September, it's going to be virtual, I really wanted our day in court as a team and to then celebrate afterwards, but we will still log in and attend from home./
A baby shower never felt right somehow, but we are planning a POP instead- a Parental Order Party! I've definitely made it up as an event, but I'm looking forward to the end of the month when we can (hopefully) raise a glass to finally being recognised officially as Mum and Dad!