A British couple, who recently had a baby girl through surrogacy in India, today appealed to the UK government to speed up their newborn’s passport before their own visas run out.
Chris and Michele Newman are in Mumbai on a visa which runs out on October 7. They will have to organise 3-month-old Lily’s travel documents if they wish to travel back to the UK together.
They had applied for her British passport on June 3 but have been warned by British consular services in Mumbai that there is no guarantee it will be ready before their own Indian visas run out.
“I did have to do something no father had to – I was pacing around at 3:00 AM, looking at orphanages in the middle of Mumbai,” Chris Newman told BBC.
Their case currently lies in the hands of the UK Home Office, who say that passports will only be issued after checks ensure the child’s interests are protected and claim to British nationality verified.
“The welfare of children is paramount in surrogacy cases. HM Passport Office needs to ensure that the child has a claim to British nationality, that surrogacy laws are adhered to, and that the child’s best interests are protected,” a spokesperson said.
According to UK media reports, the couple from Surrey in south-east England are among last to be allowed to use an Indian surrogate mother since the Indian government banned commercial international surrogacy last November.
As the surrogate mother was already pregnant, they were legally allowed to proceed.
Lily had been conceived with Chris Newman’s sperm and a donor egg, and carried by a divorced single mother, which legally entitles her to British nationality.
A British government website on surrogacy warns it can take months for passports for surrogate babies.
The couple, who are now in their forties and work in the media sector, opted for surrogacy in India after many years of trying to conceive.