Call for law change

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For the first time Jackie and Max Delph have spoken out about their ten-year journey and the lack of support they received during that time.

Speaking at the BCR Family Law conference, Mrs Delph said Jersey’s maternity law must be changed, as it does not cover women who have a baby through surrogacy or adoption.

There were also calls at the event for the law to be changed so that Jersey couples who have a child via a surrogate do not need to go to court in London to be legally recognised as the parents.

And Mrs Delph says that employers also need to do more to support those on a fertility journey.

Citing her own bad experience, she said that a previous employer had not been supportive. ‘Having used the majority of my annual leave for treatment, I used the medical certificate women are entitled to for an IVF Egg Collection.

‘I was told this was likened to cosmetic surgery and that my certificate would not be accepted. I couldn’t believe it and was terribly upset; making an incredibly tough journey even more stressful.’

It was a different experience altogether, however, when the couple became parents, via a surrogate, to baby Elara in June.

Mrs Delph said: ‘My current employer [UBS] have been amazing and incredibly supportive and allowed me to take time off as maternity leave.’

There is currently no IVF clinic in Jersey so Islanders are referred to the UK, which Mrs Delph says is hugely expensive.

The couple’s journey to become parents saw them travel to Cyprus, India, London and Athens before finally becoming parents to their baby girl.

But they are still not yet her legal parents and the surrogate’s name is currently on her birth certificate. The couple are now waiting to go to a family court in London to get the names legally changed.

In Jersey law, Mrs Delph is also not entitled to maternity benefit.

She said: ‘Social Security won’t give me maternity benefit [which includes a weekly allowance of £204.19 for up to 18 weeks] because the law, drafted in 1974, says you must be ‘confined’. We know they are reviewing it but when that will change I don’t know. They also don’t cover maternity leave for couples that adopt.

‘I can only take six months off to bond with Elara due to the large amount of debt accumulated over our journey so it’s quite upsetting that the States won’t cover my maternity benefit. I feel very discriminated against.

‘The law needs to be updated and there needs to be more support for people going through this journey.’

Matt Stephenson, a surgeon at the Hospital who has recently become a father via surrogacy, also said that laws around the process must be changed to make surrogacy easier.

Speaking at the conference, he said: ‘There are many challenges involved in surrogacy. One of those being that our names are not on the birth certificate. You have to apply for a parental order and go to court in the UK. I think the law needs changing in Jersey so people don’t need to go through that.’

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