While not so popular among medical tourists globally, surrogacy in Ireland is still trying to pave its way into the ART world. That said, this beautiful European country checks all the boxes rightly in order to be a surrogacy haven for millions of child-seeking parents around the world.
Still, as you proceed with your plans related to the surrogacy process in Ireland, we would recommend you go through the following key aspects and points carefully.
What type of surrogacy is available in Ireland?
Generally, Ireland offers two types of surrogacy arrangements:
Traditional surrogacy: in this type of surrogacy, the medical experts artificially implant the sperm from the intended father into the womb of the surrogate mother in Ireland.
Gestational surrogacy: During this type of surrogacy, the intended mother’s egg or an egg from a different donor is used by the surrogate; as a result, the surrogate mother in Ireland is not biologically related to the born child.
On the other hand, the arrangements for surrogacy can be either domestic (i.e., occurring in Ireland) or foreign (i.e. the surrogate mother gives birth to the child in a different country and the Irish parents then bring the child back home)
How legal parenthood is established in Ireland?
It is crucial to understand that just because the intended parents and the child may have a genetic connection; this does not automatically make them the child’s legal parents as per the surrogacy laws in Ireland. That said, the intended parents have a hurdle to clear before they can acquire parental rights under Irish law.
Moreover, despite giving up on her rights in the surrogacy contract, the legal mother in Ireland is the one who actually gives birth to the child, making her the child’s only guardian and custodian. That said, it does not grant the intended mother any legal parental rights in Ireland, even if she uses her own eggs and can demonstrate a genetic relationship with the child.
On the other hand, the spouse of the surrogate mother is recognized by Irish law as the child’s legal father. Besides, the intended father must file the following legal applications with the Irish Courts to establish parental rights in case the surrogate mother is unmarried and he is genetically related to the child:
- the court will require DNA evidence to support the Parentage declaration
- Joint guardianship is appointed because, in Ireland, the surrogate mother is automatically granted legal guardianship.
- The surrogate mother’s consent may be disregarded by the court upon request. This is required, for instance, because without a court order, both guardians’ signatures must be provided at the passport office.
Does the Intended mother have any rights during the surrogacy procedure?
Adoption is the only way for the commissioning mother to establish her parental rights during the surrogacy process in Ireland. Moreover, after two years of providing for the child, intended parents who are not biologically related to the child may submit a guardianship application.
On the other hand, the following issues may develop if parental rights are not established legally:
- approval of medical procedures.
- submitting a child’s passport application.
- rights to inherit property and the resulting tax consequences.
- enrolling kids in school and obtaining the required permissions.
If the relationship between the intended parent and the other parent disintegrates due to a custody disagreement, there may also be serious negative legal repercussions.
Is surrogacy legal in Ireland?
Surrogacy is neither legal nor illegal in Ireland at the moment due to a lack of specific legislation. Besides, Ireland does not allow commercial surrogacy arrangements (where the surrogate mother is paid) because of moral concerns about human trafficking.
In Ireland, altruistic surrogacy is legal, and in this case, the surrogate mother may come on board as a close friend who wants to support the couple trying to conceive. Besides, an informal agreement can be made to reimburse the surrogate mother for reasonable expenses.
Moreover, it’s also important to remember that while the intended mother can apply for parental leave, she cannot take advantage of maternity leave.
How does International surrogacy function in Ireland?
The complication of international surrogacy is evident in how challenging it is for the Irish government to control something that takes place outside of its borders. Moreover, regarding legal strategies for surrogacy, there is little global agreement. Besides, the laws vary from one nation to the next. Therefore, before beginning the process, it is crucial to learn about the surrogacy laws in each nation. Surrogacy Consultancy can help you with this. Also, the Department of Justice has published guidelines regarding cross-border surrogacy contracts. Although they are only a description of the current system and not a set of laws that can be enforced, these are helpful tools for prospective parents.
The steps you must take to bring your child back to Ireland.
If the Irish government successfully issued an Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC), a child born through international surrogacy can return to Ireland. Moreover, the child’s father or legal representative may submit the application. Besides, the commissioning father must submit an application after having DNA testing done by a facility approved by the Irish government and receiving a report establishing parentage. Also, the surrogate mother must submit the ETC application in the absence of a paternity declaration. If she is married, her husband’s permission must also be obtained. Additionally, the State will need to be satisfied with the following:
- The child is or may be an Irish citizen
- the consent of all guardians has been obtained (including the surrogate mother and her husband, if applicable), and granting the certificate will be in the child’s best interests.
- The intending parents are required by law to notify the HSE within 48 hours of the child’s arrival in Ireland.
Within ten days of returning to Ireland, legal action must be taken to ask the Irish courts for a declaration of parentage. As a result, it’s important to work with your Irish lawyer and have all the required documents prepared before submitting these applications.
The pressure and uncertainty experienced by intended parents are made worse by the absence of legislation governing the surrogacy process in Ireland. Although there is a proposed draft of legislation to regulate the area, it is unlikely that it will be implemented anytime soon. Moreover, if the proposed 2017 Assisted Human Reproduction Bill is passed in its current form, it will only apply to domestic altruistic surrogacy and not to cross-border agreements. Additionally, it only applies to surrogacy contracts made after the law is passed.
It also suggests the creation of a regulatory body to aid prospective parents in overseeing surrogacy agreements. That said, the Bill is drawing a lot of criticism because it won’t affect the legal status of parents choosing surrogacy in other countries, and parentage will continue to be in legal limbo.
Hence, we can say that Ireland currently has the chance to take lessons from other legal systems and design a system that works well for everyone. We suggest you consult with a surrogacy consultant before proceeding with your surrogacy journey to any country.