Adoption, fostering and surrogacy

Some people are not able to have fertility treatment. Some decide they don’t want to go through treatment and prefer to start a family in another way.

If you are thinking about adoption, fostering or surrogacy, it may help to:

  • talk it through with friends or family
  • talk to someone who has become a parent in this way
  • find out more from a support organisation.

Make sure you get all the support and information you need to make the decision that is right for you.

Adoption and fostering

If medical treatment doesn’t feel like the right way for you to become a parent, you could consider adoption or fostering.

Adoption means becoming the legal parent of a child. Fostering means looking after a child who can’t stay with their own family – this might be short-term or long-term.

People from all backgrounds can apply to become a parent in these ways. Sexuality, gender and disability are not barriers. And you don’t have to be in a relationship or married.

Adoption and fostering can be rewarding ways to start a family. They are arranged through an organisation or local authority. If you want to find out more, ask:

  • your social worker, if you have one
  • your local social services department (check the phone book or search online for details)
  • an organisation such as CoramBAAF or Adoption UK.


Surrogacy is where a woman, called the surrogate (or host), becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby for you. The pregnancy may be started using IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilisation). You may decide to use:

  • your own eggs
  • donated eggs from the surrogate or another donor
  • your own sperm
  • sperm from a donor.

Some women who can’t carry a baby themselves choose surrogacy so they can have a baby using their own eggs or embryos. Same-sex male couples sometimes use this option too. Surrogacy is not very common in the UK and there are laws that can make it a complicated process. Some organisations, such as Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy (COTS) and Surrogacy UK, offer detailed information about this.