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Tyson and Dan from Melbourne.

Can you tell us how you decided to start a family and the journey you took to get there, including the method you used (IVF, adoption, surrogacy, etc.)?
Daniel and I always talked about having children together from very early in our relationship. While we always wanted to start a family, we knew very little about how to make this a reality for us. We always knew about commercial surrogacy overseas, but this always seemed unobtainable for us, particularly early on. We tried to research online about possible avenues to parenthood, but there was very little information available back then, particularly compared to what is available today. We went to seminars at fertility clinics, met with fertility specialists and lawyers who all gave us very conflicting information, and in some cases outright false information, particularly regarding the laws around surrogacy within Australia. 
Finally we came across the Australian Surrogacy Podcast; and immediately knew this was for us. The more we learnt about Australian Surrogacy, the more it resonated with us. We joined the Australian Surrogacy Community Facebook page, the Australian Egg Donation Facebook page, attended local catch ups, conferences and read all we could. 
We were very fortunate in finding both our egg donor and surrogate via the online Facebook groups who are now a part of our extended family. We had our Daughter, London, in 2021 and our lives have never been happier (albeit with less sleep)

In your experience, does the LGBTQ+ community face unique challenges when starting a family?
The LGBTQ+ community faces many challenges in starting families. There are still places in Australia that have laws that prevent gay couples from pursuing surrogacy, which is atrocious. 
The Medicare rebates for IVF (egg donation) do not apply to surrogacy cases, which directly affect LGBTQ+, that directly discriminate against gay men and those who do not have eggs of their own or their eggs are not viable or conducive to pregnancy. This is a significant cost to intended parents on an already very costly journey. 
The LGBTQ+ also have to face off against a portion of the community who do not believe they make appropriate parents, even overtly. We were once out at a shopping center when our daughter became very upset, as all infants do as she was maybe 4/5 months old at this stage, when a member of the public decided to come over and tell us how to console her, this was after maybe 30 seconds of us trying. Something that was incredibly upsetting for us as she was implying we did not have the skills to comfort our own child and we needed a ‘mum’ to help us. 
There are also structural challenges such as ‘mums and bubs classes’, baby clothes shops that have rewards programs for mum, baby change tables in female bathrooms only (although this is improving) and many other small hurdles. 

What were the major hurdles you encountered in your journey to parenthood, and how did you overcome them?

There are many hurdles on the journey to parenthood, particularly in surrogacy 
- Finding a surrogate and egg donor
- completing very expensive, time consuming and arduous legal requirements
- we did our journey during COVID so that was a massive hurdle for us
- working with the hospital before birth to work out the logistics of the handover and parental rights aspects
- seeking a parentage order to re-issue the birth certificate with the correct parent information

Could you touch on the emotional and practical aspects of your journey to becoming a parent, including the process and the eventual outcome?

Altruistic surrogacy is an enormous emotional and organisational undertaking. It takes an enormous amount of trust, so spending the time building a strong relationship with your surrogate is essential. 
The surrogacy process itself is difficult to navigate. Daniel and I documented everything along the way and then after having our daughter created the Australia Surrogacy Process Chart to help support other intended parents navigate it too.  

 What has been the best part of becoming a parent, and how has it changed your life and perspective?

Watching our daughter grow, learn, play and develop her own unique and amazing personality has been the most rewarding experience. It has brought us closer as a couple and now as a family. 

 How many children do you have, and did they come to you through the same process or different methods?

We have one daughter through Australian Surrogacy. 

Were there any unexpected costs or financial challenges to starting your family?
The surrogacy costs are significant and while the total figure is often discussed within the community, at the time there was nothing documenting what each aspect costs along the way to ensure you were not being taken advantage of. Legal costs for example can vary significantly. 

If you could go back and do anything differently in your family-building journey, what would it be and why?

While we faced several obstacles on our journey, overall we wouldn’t do anything in particular differently. In hindsight, having a better understanding of the process beforehand might have assisted in saving some costs and time along the way, but nothing major. Our biggest obstacle was navigating surrogacy during COVID, and while we would have prepared better, this was out of our hands. 

What advice would you give to others in the LGBTQ+ community who are about to start their own families -  what words of wisdom or encouragement would you share with them?

For those seeking to start a family, find others who have been through it, put yourself out there. LGBTQ+ parents are always happy to support others who are looking into becoming parents. Do try this on your own. And for new parents, create your own parents group of likeminded people. We were very lucky to connect with other gay dad parents who had children at the same time as us and they have been a huge support for us. While the council run parents groups can be welcoming, they are not privy to the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ parents. 

If your children are old enough to understand, how do they feel about being part of a rainbow family? If comfortable, could you share their perspectives?
Our daughter is still a toddler, so the biggest issue we face with this is her calling her dummy ‘mummy’, which isn’t overly encouraging when she cries for ‘mummy’ in the night if she can’t find it. 

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