Can you tell us how you came to explore surrogacy as an option to start your family?
We have always been interested in having children. To understand more, we attended the Australian Surrogacy and Egg Donor Conference
How did you find your surrogate?
Adam mentioned to a friend that we attended the Australian Surrogacy and Egg Donor Conference and she generously volunteered to become our surrogate.
Could you touch on the emotional aspects of your journey via surrogacy?
There were a lot of ups and downs. The delays and the uncertainty in the process added a considerable amount of stress to the process.
Were there unexpected costs or financial challenges to starting your family - and how did you navigate them?
We had a fairly good understanding of costs going into this process, so we didn’t have financial challenges to start our family. The outlay for us was around $70-75k ($48,235.29 for the eggs and a further ~20-25k for IVF, legals, counselling etc.
What was the toughest or most confronting thing you encountered during the process, what hurdles did you have to overcome?
The constant delays and the sheer inequity of having to perform steps which are not required for a natural pregnancy.
- The intended parents, surrogate and her partner having to go through 7 counselling session over a period of 92 days, with a further 20 days to finalise the report (i.e. 112 days duration).
- Having both intended parents, the surrogate and her partner having to submit national police checks.
- The intended parents, surrogate and her partner having to sit a psychological assessment. Finding someone willing to perform this assessment and producing the report took 76 days. This was in spite of us using a list of recommended psychologists from our IVF clinic.
- The Victorian Government having to approve the importation of eggs from the world egg bank (no other state government has this requirement). It took 42 days for the Victorian government to approve this request.
- The intended parents and surrogate/partner having to seek independent legal advice. Engaging two different law firms and receiving this advice took 58 days.
- Taking 70 days for the Patient Review Panel to hear our case (from the time we submitted the application). During the PRP, there were 7-8 people on the call, a couple of whom clearly had not read our application based on the questions that we asked. Many others on the call didn’t ask us any questions, which begs the question of why they were on the call in the first place.
- Taking 100 days to receive the transfer of parentage order (from the time we submitted the application).
- Taking over 100 days for our son to get registered as our child on Medicare.
Most of the above activities involved multiple follow-ups from us. Without this, the delays would have been even worse.
If you could go back and do anything differently in your family-building journey, what would it be and why?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that any actions could have been taken by us in retrospect that would have simplified or sped up this process.
What needs to change around surrogacy laws in Australia to make this process easier and less expensive in your opinion?
Either the process needs to be dramatically simplified or government need to make their processes significantly more efficient.
Simplification of the process may involve elimination of the requirement for national police checks, the psychological assessment, the need to have the Victorian Government approve the importation of eggs when no other state government does this, not having to have 7 counselling sessions when no issues were identified at any stage of the counselling process etc.
Making the process more efficient might involve getting a more junior person to approval the transfer of parentage order (instead of a time poor judge) and automating the Medicare processes for intended parents
Where the unexpected costs to this court process and time involved?
No unexpected costs, but see above for unexpected time/delayss.
How could the transfer of parentage be done differently in your opinion?
Getting a more junior person to approval the transfer of parentage order (instead of a time poor judge)
What advice would you give to others in the LGBTQ+ community who are exploring surrogacy - what words of wisdom or encouragement would you share with them?
The key think we’d recommend is to educate yourselves on the true costs, success rates and likely timelines before embarking on this journey. However, in spite of it being a long and relatively expensive process, it’s still worth it in the end.
What has been the best part of becoming a parent, and how has it changed your life and perspective?
It’s been an amazing experience. It has strengthened relationships within our families, providing opportunities for relatives to become grand-parents and aunties/uncles.
It has definitely changed our life for the better.
Anything you'd like to add?
One thing we forgot to mention, is the issue of not being able to get a parentage order prior to the birth of the child. This means that both the surrogate can choose to keep the child up to 30 days after the birth, and the intended parents can also choose not to accept the child. This results in a lack of certainty and increases stress for both the surrogate and the intended parents.