A question I often receive is how common is surrogacy in Australia? I have been gathering statistics for surrogacy arrangements across Australia for the past few years. The figures contained in this article reflect those surrogacy arrangements that I have assisted with between 2021 and 2022.
The statistics here are based on my own data gathered for surrogacy arrangements in Australia between 2021 and 2022.
Is it easier to do surrogacy in some states more than others?
With 260 surrogacy arrangements, only a third of my clients came from where I live in Victoria. Generally speaking, the chances of entering a surrogacy arrangement are the same across the country – but there are notable exceptions. Tasmanian intended parents must have a surrogate who is resident in Tasmania, meaning their chances of finding a surrogate is limited to the population of Tassie. And West Australians can only enter a surrogacy arrangement if they are a heterosexual couple or a single woman – this is set to change sometime, but we’ve been waiting for years for reform to happen.
Finally, we now have surrogacy laws in the Northern Territory and I was excited to sign off on the first surrogacy arrangement under the new laws in 2022. The first NT parentage orders look to be made in 2023!
Gestational or Traditional surrogacy?
Gestational surrogacy involves a surrogate who conceives with an egg from someone other than herself – a donor, or one of the intended parents. Traditional surrogacy involves a surrogate who conceives with her own egg. In some parts of the world, traditional surrogacy is quite popular, including in the UK. In other parts of the world, particularly in the USA, gestational surrogacy is much more common and traditional surrogacy is rare.
Of 260 surrogacy arrangements across Australia between 2021 and 2022, 40 involved traditional surrogacy and the remaining 220 involved gestational surrogacy. That’s about 15% traditional and 85% gestational surrogacy.
Of babies born in 2021-22, 12% of them were traditional surrogacy babies and the remaining 88% were via gestational surrogacy. Given that traditional surrogacy often involves home insemination and may not involve IVF clinics, it’s not surprising that the success rates for traditional surrogacy are a bit lower than for gestational surrogacy.
How do surrogates and intended parents find each other?
It’s the biggest question for anyone engaging in surrogacy in Australia – how do we find a surrogate or intended parents? In 2021, about 65% of my clients had found each other within existing networks – friends and family mostly. The other 35% of my clients found each other on social media, particularly on dedicated Facebook groups such as the Australian Surrogacy Community.
The complete numbers for 2021-2022 are a little different, with 2022 figures reflecting a higher likelihood of finding a surrogate within family and friends. Overall, 25% of my clients found each other on social media, in new relationships, and 75% found a surrogate in existing networks. If you are looking for a surrogate, remember that people in your friends and family circles don’t know that you need a surrogate unless you share your story. Many surrogates carried for someone they knew after hearing about their story of infertility and desire to grow their family.
Gay, straight, single or married? Who is entering a surrogacy arrangement?
Do we need to be married or straight to enter a surrogacy arrangement? The answer is no (except if you’re in Western Australia!).
Of 260 surrogacy arrangements in 2021-2022, 53% were for straight couples, and 42% were for gay couples. The remaining 5% were split equally between single women and single men.
Babies born 2021-2022
The best part of my job is hearing of the birth of a much-wanted and hoped for baby. Between 2021 and 2022, I’ve heard that news 125 times and it never ceases to make my heart sing.
As you would expect, the split between boy babies and girl babies born is almost event, with 63 boys and 62 girls. That included one set of identical twin boys, and one in five babies given a name beginning with the letter A!
You can read more about the babies born in 2022, including a list of names given to surrogacy babies during the year.
Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford (she/her). I’m a family creation lawyer, practising in surrogacy and donor conception arrangements. I’m an IVF mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for two dads in 2018.
I advocate for positive, best practice surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.