'We won't have to spend another Christmas not being recognised as our children's mothers'

'We Won't Have To Spend Another Christmas Not Being Recognised As Our Children's Mothers'
Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman TD with deputies and representatives of surrogacy groups in relation to International Surrogacy and recognition of past surrogacy arrangements at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos
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James Cox

Government approval of proposals that would allow Irish families to have international surrogacy arrangements recognised has been welcomed as meaning "everything" to families by a spokesperson for Irish Families Through Surrogacy (IFTS).

Sara Byrne of IFTS was one of those who met with Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman, and Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys following the announcement on Tuesday.


Ms Byrne told BreakingNews.ie: "We're just delighted. Our Christmas miracle has come true, it couldn't be better timing just before Christmas to know this time next year we won't have to spend another Christmas not being recognised as our children's mothers. It's really special, a great day."

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman with deputies and representatives of surrogacy groups. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

She explained that there will be two parts to the legislation. One retrospective, for Irish families with children who were born through surrogacy, and one prospective, for couples who pursue international surrogacy in the future.

For those pursuing surrogacy, a new Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority (AHRRA) will be set up, and a post-birth court process to grant a parental order.


"All going well I could go to court in the summer or autumn and be made my daughter's full legal parent for the rest of her life not just until she's 18 so that's great news," she said.

The current lack of legislation around international surrogacy has presented huge difficulties for families as women cannot be recognised as their children's legal mothers.

"It can't come quickly enough. We have so many members who need it immediately for different reasons... if their partner is unwell, or in cases of marital breakdown, there are a number of situations putting people in difficulty."

Describing the difficulties families have gone through due to the lack of surrogacy legislation, Ms Byrne said it will mean "everything" to them.


"If my daughter needs Calpol in playschool I can't sign for that, my husband has to permit that. I can't apply for her passport, I can't set up a bank account for her, it's all those day-to-day things that you would just naturally organise yourself as her mother. It's just another complication that has to be thought about and worked around.

"It's a daily reminder that the State does not recognise you when everyday you're doing the job, in every way I have been her mother since the day we decided we'd go down the road of surrogacy. Things other people can take for granted really.

"It's everything. To know that never on a playground, in any setting, that anyone can ever turn around to my daughter and say 'your mammy isn't your mammy'. That's what this has been all about, that cannot happen now."

Cathy Wheatley from Irish Families Through Surrogacy. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos
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She added: "Surrogacy is a last resort. People who go down this road have already had a devastating medical diagnosis or have had an awful infertility journey. People have gone through difficult times to get to the surrogacy road, so it's one less onerous thing to have to worry about. It's difficult enough as it is when you have to pursue surrogacy.

"It's really heartening to know we have hopefully made thousands of Irish people's lives easier."

Ms Byrne was full of praise for the health minister and the Oireachtas committee that made the recommendations for surrogacy legislation.

"It was wonderful that Minister Donnelly took the time to sit down and went through every part of the proposal. He understands what we've been calling for and basically everything we were asking for has been granted. It's exactly what we need. It directly relates to the work of the Oireachtas committee that took place, it basically follows all of their recommendations, so we couldn't be happier to be honest."

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