‘I won’t believe it until I’m here with my parental disposition’ – Surrogacy families urge proposed new legislation to be expedited

It was a double celebration for surrogacy advocate Cathy Wheatley over the weekend as news of a major advance in her campaign came on the same day as her twins’ third birthday.

Adding to the delight of her youngsters’ party yesterday at her home in Wicklow were reports that three government ministers have agreed to amend a bill to give full legal rights to parents of children born through international surrogacy.

Ms Wheatley, a spokeswoman for Irish Families Through Surrogacy, said on behalf of her family the “whole day was very surreal” and welcomed the fact that there was cross-party support for her campaign. It’s been a long road for her and thousands of other families in Ireland who have lived in legal limbo over the status of their children born through surrogacy.

“There was a lot of emotion there,” said Ms. Wheatley. Their twins, Ted and Elsie, 3, were born in Ukraine in 2019 to a surrogate named Ivanna Holub, a mother of three who is now living with Cathy and her husband Keith.

The Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill 2022, which is currently going through the Dáil, is expected to be amended to allow second parents of children born through international surrogacy to apply for full rights.

Previously, a second parent had to apply for guardianship subject to the consent of the birth father, which is already recognized under Irish law.

However, that agreement ends when the child turns 18, and activists have advocated for full parental rights for those using surrogates.

A memo proposing these changes, issued on behalf of Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly, Justice Secretary Helen McEntee and Children’s Secretary Roderic O’Gorman, is now due to go to Cabinet “within the next two weeks”.

The clock is ticking on the proposed changes, however, with the last Dáil meeting on December 15 before the government reshuffle on December 17. If the changes are accelerated, the new legislation could come into force by the end of this year.

“We believe Minister Donnelly is keen to get it through before Christmas. I think Ministers are all very keen to see this through to their own personal goals,” said Ms Wheatley.

“But no matter how many reshuffles they have, we’re not going to hold back. We’ll be there, front and center, to make sure everything is in place.

“At IFTS we are all looking forward to 2023 because we believe this is the year when this will become a reality. But I only believe it when I stand there with my parental order. So we are celebratory, but also cautious.”

This is also Surrogacy Awareness Week and today marks the second anniversary of the IFTS campaigning for these changes, which they believe are essential to protect the rights of parents and surrogate mothers.

Former Miss World Rosanna Davison, whose daughter Sophia was born through surrogacy, gave her a gift Responding to messages about the proposed changes.

“Like many other Irish families who have been left in legal limbo for years, we are absolutely delighted to see that surrogacy legislation is soon in place,” she said.

“Our children deserve equal rights to a lifelong, legal relationship with both parents, regardless of how they were born.”

Westlife’s Mark Feehily, who gave birth to daughter Layla through surrogacy in 2019, said there is “a big win for the country on the horizon”.

He said the “relief and joy” he felt was immense. “All of our children and families will wake up more protected and equal very soon,” he said.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/i-wont-believe-it-until-im-standing-there-with-my-parental-order-surrogacy-families-push-for-proposed-new-laws-to-be-expedited-42143403.html ‘I won’t believe it until I’m here with my parental disposition’ – Surrogacy families urge proposed new legislation to be expedited

Fry Electronics Team

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