Ruth Cabeza and her co-writers have the advantage, as Mrs Justice Theis, herself a specialist, points out in the Foreword, of having considerable practical expertise of their subject. The only flaw in the first seven pages which cover definition, the adoption alternative, and the altruistic, compensated and commercial varieties, is that one is left wanting more. There follow six chapters on current substance before we come to ‘Surrogacy and Risks of Family Secrets’ and ‘The Case for Surrogacy Law Reform’, both of which would be of interest to a much wider readership. More generally, one can learn a lot about this subject simply by following the chapters’ sub-headings.
Chapter 2 ‘Parenthood in the Context of Assisted Reproductive Treatment’ deals with the starting position. Who’s the mother? The father? What if the surrogate is married or civilly partnered? Death? Gender change? We move on to ‘Surrogacy Law’ and ‘Parental Orders’ where ‘the vital importance of ensuring that all involved…receive the best advice possible’ (p 35) is rightly stressed. As Sir James Munby P said (after the publication of this book) with regard to ‘the 38th case’ he has decided involving bureaucratic failings at fertility clinics, how ‘frightening it can be for an ordinary person… to be confronted with the news…some years after the birth of a much-loved child, that there is something wrong with the paperwork’ (Re Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Case AL)
 EWHC 1300 (Fam)). Thus, the authors here are right to include ’infertility clinics’ in the list of those for whom their work is an ‘essential guide’ (blurb, see below). With regard to the current position for single people who are unable to obtain a parental order following a surrogate birth, there has been further movement since this book appeared, with a Government estimate
that a remedial order of declaration of incompatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights should be completed before the [parliamentary] summer recess in 2018.
Chapter 5,’When Surrogacy Agreements Break Down’ covers such as changes of mind by the birth mother, ie keeping the baby, not consenting to the parental order, and the alternative orders of adoption, child arrangement order or wardship. Then, ‘Employment Rights and Surrogacy’, reminds us that full legal implications of parenthood apply just as much here as in ‘conventional’ cases before the self-explanatory ‘International Surrogacy and British Nationality and Immigration Law’ chapter deals with children who are produced abroad in order to avoid the UK restrictions on commercial surrogacy.
‘Surrogacy and Risks of Family Secrets’ re-visits the theme that Mike Leigh’s 1996 film, Secrets and Lies
, addresses with regard to adoption. One hopes that readers will echo the book’s ambitions for the future, eg, the replication of the adoption panels’ role in preparing the intended parents to undertake life story work with the children. Finally, ’The Case for Surrogacy Law Reform’ memorably points out that ‘For far too long, Parliament has adopted the position of the three wise monkeys’ (p 183). The Law Commissions of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission’s May 2018 announcement that they have received Government funding for a review of surrogacy laws
will surely lead to considerable interest in this book –
which achieves what many do not in justifying its blurb, ie that it is an ‘essential guide for legal practitioners, academics, students, policy-makers, infertility clinics and charitable organisations’.