altruistic surrogacy

/altruistic surrogacy

Money Talks, But What If We Don’t Like the Conversation?

By |2019-03-15T10:50:09+00:00March 15th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Blog, costs of surrogacy, surrogate, surrogate partner|

It is a fact universally known, that altruistic surrogates don’t like to talk about money. We don’t like asking for money, and we’d rather spend our own money than burden our intended parents. We feel that any talk about money can undermine the altruism of the gift that we’re giving. And let’s be honest, no one really likes talking about money. But in surrogacy arrangements, you kind of have to grin and bear it, because you have to talk about money at some stage.

The number one rule of altruistic surrogacy is: the surrogate should never be out of pocket. Altruistic surrogacy does not mean free. Surrogates are already putting themselves and their family’s well-being at risk by carrying a baby for someone else – they shouldn’t be financially worse off for doing it. Whilst there are legal frameworks for what expenses should be covered, the rule of thumb should be  that if it’s surrogacy, pregnancy or birth-related, the intended parents should be covering it. If it’s an expense that the surrogate wouldn’t have incurred if she weren’t pregnant with someone else’s baby, then the intended parents should be covering it.

So how do you have the conversation if she won’t talk about it? Well, in some ways you need to take it out of her hands. Make it as easy as possible for her, and make sure she’s never out of pocket. The easiest and least stressful option to ensure surrogates are not out of pocket is not to reimburse them after she’s paid for something, but to provide her with access to funds ahead of time. Many teams find the easiest way to manage expenses is to provide the surrogate with a bank card with direct access to the intended parents’ bank account. This way, the surrogate can use the card for expenses, there’s no need for reimbursing after she’s spent her own money, and there’s a record in the intended parents’ bank account of any expenses she’s incurred.

As for the tough conversations about what everyone agrees is to be covered and how much, these are best had as a team, and both in and out of counselling. Don’t rely on the counselling to cover it all – utilise the counselling as a starting place for ongoing conversations. Recognise that it’s awkward. And in particular, recognise that the surrogate is likely to minimise her needs and will likely say “it’s fine” and “don’t worry about it.” The intended parents need to be proactive about money – don’t wait for the surrogate to ask for money or request a certain expense. The chances are, if she wants a new maternity bra, she’ll spend her own money to buy it. The intended parents need to be assertive enough to insist that she spend their money on those expenses, and not take no for an answer.

Surrogate partners can also play a role in the money conversation. They’re one step removed from the pregnancy, and might find it easier to have hard conversations with the intended parents about expenses. The surrogate doesn’t want her altruism undermined by money conversations, whilst her partner can make sure there’s money secured for a cleaner, and that her request for maternity clothing is met. She can then feel comfort knowing that the conversations are being had, but that she can focus on herself and the baby.

Here’s my 5 tips to ensure money doesn’t kill the relationship:

  1. Have pre-conception agreements about how money stuff should be dealt with.
  2. Have a linked card for the surrogate to utilise to pay bills etc so she doesn’t have to ask for money or reimbursement.
  3. Nominate a communication avenue to discuss money. Have it in writing, email or text, to avoid confusion.
  4. Nominate a spokesperson from each team to discuss money.
  5. Keep it unemotional and business-like.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Feminism & Altruistic Surrogacy

By |2019-03-13T10:47:56+00:00March 13th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog|

A core belief of any feminist, is that a woman has the right to full bodily autonomy. That includes reproductive autonomy; the right to determine if and when she has children, how many, and the right to make decisions about her fertility and reproduction.  I am unashamedly a feminist; I am not perfect but I aim to be intersectional in my feminism. My journey to feminism began when I was a child, but was not crystallised until I became a mother to two boy children, and I later worked at an aboriginal organisation. I was confronted with my privilege as a white person, and the oppression I experience as a woman, and reflected on the different experiences my two white sons were likely to have in their lifetimes.

So it never occurred to me that being a surrogate, or an egg donor, could be criticised in feminist circles. As far as I was concerned, I exercised my bodily autonomy to assist people with the donation of my eggs, and as a surrogate. The decision was discussed with my partner – not because he could tell me what to do, but because we are a team and it was a team decision. I liken the decision of becoming an egg donor to that of  breastfeeding our children – my body, my choice. The idea that anyone could tell me what I could do with my body, or my genes for that matter, is offensive to me. I also felt that, as a privileged woman with good fertility and health, I could help to ‘level the playing field’ for someone without my privilege. This might have influenced my decision to carry for a gay couple in the middle of the marriage equality debate in Australia. Certainly, I have felt very lucky to have been able to make reproductive decisions without many barriers, unlike many gay men and women suffering infertility.

But as it turns out, some people who claim to be feminists, are highly critical of all forms of surrogacy. I’ve met some of them, in person and online, and considered their arguments and reflected on my own experience as a surrogate, and as a surrogacy lawyer. Whilst I don’t agree with much of the criticism, I have reflected on how I can help promote best practice surrogacy in Australia, and educate people to make empowered decisions about overseas surrogacy.

Bodily autonomy is a key tenet in altruistic surrogacy arrangements in Australia, and is one very strong reason why we do not have commercial surrogacy in this country. But critics of surrogacy are often against all types of surrogacy, including altruistic. Noting that feminists are not one homogeneous group, the criticisms of surrogacy can be summarised as follows:

  1. That surrogacy is akin to child trafficking, or ‘baby selling.’
    This criticism might be leveled at commercial surrogacy, which involves fees and contracts and the end result is a baby being handed over. Arguably, the criticism can also be directed altruistic surrogacy; the fact that no money changes hands does not alter the fact that a baby is being handed over. In Australia, however, the child’s rights are paramount. If a surrogacy arrangement goes wrong, it is not enforceable; the child’s rights will be considered paramount when determining who should be responsible for them and where they should live. It is not possible to have a contract on a child in Australia. And whilst not perfect, the counselling and legal processes surrounding altruistic surrogacy demand that the parties consider the rights and interests of any child born through the arrangement.
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  2. That surrogacy contracts are oppressive and deny a woman her right to bodily autonomy.
    Some critics liken surrogacy to prostitution, in that it involves the commodification of a surrogate’s body for someone else’s purposes.  Critics claim that surrogacy is exactly as it is portrayed in The Handmaid’s Tale: sexual and reproductive servitude for women. Again, some of this criticism might be leveled at commercial surrogacy and particularly in circumstances where surrogates live in poverty and are contracted as surrogates, precisely because of the financial gain they will make for them and their families. Some of the contracts in those arrangements are offensive – including clauses that suggest that she won’t get paid if she miscarries, and even that she has to reimburse the intended parents in those circumstances. Control of the surrogate’s body and autonomy includes clauses that restrict her movements and require her to adhere to strict living conditions. To be fair, those scenarios are less likely in developed countries such as the US and Canada.
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    In Australia, where there is no fee or payment in exchange for a baby, the surrogate maintains her bodily autonomy. There might be agreements between the parties about the surrogate’s conduct and lifestyle, such as that she will not drink alcohol during pregnancy, but it is not enforceable. One thing that I emphasise to clients entering into surrogacy arrangements in Australia, is that the surrogate can determine the care she receives during pregnancy, and she can consent or withhold consent to any treatment, including termination of the pregnancy.
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    As for the argument that surrogacy is like prostitution – again, I say that women have a right to determine what they do with their bodies, and this includes surrogacy and sex work. Whilst some people are offended by the comparison of surrogacy to sex work, I say: so what? Empowered women making empowered choices that are right for them. If we are really worried about the exploitation of women (as surrogates or sex workers) then we should be focused on regulating the industries and supporting all women to make informed and empowered choices for themselves. Stigmatising, or criminalising sex work or surrogacy, does not safeguard women’s rights.
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  3. There is no right to a child; people who are unable to conceive or carry a child themselves must reconcile themselves to being child-free.
    Whilst this may surprise many people, I agree with the critics in part on this issue. There is no right to a child. We are socialised from an early age to believe that when we grow up, we should find a partner, settle down and have children. Most people don’t spend time considering this in depth, nor consider whether having children is something they really want. There’s a multitude of reasons why we shouldn’t have children, or many children, and plenty of ways to live a happy and fulfilled life without children. I believe we should be offering everyone the opportunity to determine whether having children is the right decision for them – that means changing how we view women who are child-free, and not promoting the nuclear family as the ultimate in achievement.
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    Whilst I don’t believe anyone is entitled to a child, I still carried for a couple who wanted one. Because I maintain that I have the right to bodily autonomy and reproductive autonomy, and the rights of the child were maintained as paramount. The baby I birthed is well-looked after, loved and cared for, and we as a society have generally accepted that children can be raised by two dads without any detriment to their well-being. My main focus, and that of her parents, is always for her well-being and her sense of self. She will always have a relationship with me, and my children, and I will support her interests by being available to her when and if she needs.
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  4. The erasure of the mother.
    This criticism is focused on the idea that only the birthing woman can fill the role of mother. Science shows that there are primal connections between a woman and the baby she carried – and as someone who gave a baby to another couple, I can attest to this being true. I feel a primal connection with the baby I carried, and partly that’s because we share genetics and she looks like me and my family members. I can, however, also confirm that carrying and birthing her did not give me any primal need to be with her or to parent her. She was conceived with the intention of her being cared for and raised by her dads, and I felt 100% happy and satisfied doing this.
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    Some critics of surrogacy say that the Birth Certificate does not include the birth mother’s details and that this ‘erases’ her from the child’s history. This is another criticism that I’m willing to accept, at least in part. Current process in Australia is that the original Birth Certificate lists the surrogate and her partner as the birth parents. Once the Parentage Order is made, a new Birth Certificate is issued with the intended parents listed as parents. Most surrogates feel uncomfortable being on the Birth Certificate, even for a short while, for a child they do not consider is their child. But then, is there any reason why a Birth Certificate cannot list more than just the parents? Would it not be in the child’s best interests to have their birth parents, any donors, and the intended parents listed on their Birth Certificate? The removal of the surrogate can feel erasing – of the true history of the birth, genetics, and of the surrogate herself. Why does a Birth Certificate list two dads, as if there was no woman involved in the conception, pregnancy and birth? If the critics believe it is erasure, can we not find a better way to recognise the surrogate and acknowledge the intended parents? John Pascoe (former Chief Judge of the Family Court) elaborated on this idea in the 2016 Louis Waller Lecture on the rights of the child to know their history.
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Cancelling the critics
Look, the fact is that we may never be able to reconcile criticisms of surrogacy with the reasons why we do it. I recognise that they will never convince me that all surrogacy is evil, and I will never convince them of how amazing it can be. My version of feminism seeks to empower women to make empowered decisions, and anyone that seeks to deny this right is not a feminist in my book.

I am aware that several critics of surrogacy rely on anecdotal evidence of a few women who had poor surrogacy experiences. It would be fantasy to assume that all surrogacy is good and all outcomes are positive.  It is disappointing that a few stories should serve to promote the abolition of surrogacy all together, or to bolster the opinions of those who claim we are all being exploited.  I am not looking at surrogacy through rose-coloured glasses; I know that most surrogacy is imperfect, and that we can all do more to make it better. The rights of the child should be at the forefront of our minds, and surrogates must maintain bodily autonomy if we are to protect the integrity of altruistic arrangements. People should recognise that no one is entitled to a child, no matter the hardships they’ve confronted – it’s not fair, but having a baby is not a right. And ultimately, it is the right of every woman to determine whether she carries a baby for someone else, and we should provide an appropriate framework to ensure her rights are protected.  Abolishing surrogacy is not the answer; regulation is the key.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Surrogate Partners: The Unsung Heroes

By |2019-03-06T02:37:54+00:00March 6th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, fatherhood, surrogate partner|

There’s a few heroes in the story of surrogacy – but none more unassuming than the surrogate’s partner. Our partners don’t ask to go down this path, and the rewards for them are few and far between. But their support is crucial, and without it, most of us wouldn’t be able to carry a baby for someone else. There is no ‘i’ in surrogacy – it’s a team effort, and the surrogate’s partner is as much part of the team as the surrogate herself.

Surrogate partners, including my husband Troy and Emmy’s husband Danny – both of whom have shared their experiences in the Podcast – are two such partners who have  can give insight into what it’s like when your partner announces that she wants to carry a baby for another family.

So, what is required from partners to support the surrogacy arrangement? Well, firstly, they need to be engaged enough to make a decision as a couple, whether it is right for their family. Often, the surrogate raises the idea and reads and researches surrogacy and how it works. As the idea grows in her mind, she’ll want to discuss it with her partner to see what they think. Some partners may be against the idea entirely, whilst others might be open to the idea of it but need more information and time to think about it before committing. Partners should engage enough to find out enough information to understand why their partner wants to be a surrogate, and the basic legal and counselling requirements and processes. At this stage, they might also like to consider pre-surrogacy counselling with a surrogacy counsellor, to discuss the big issues together and clarify what they want from the experience. Counselling can also assist them to determine if surrogacy is right for their family, and if so, how to find intended parents that are right for them.

I considered that, whilst egg donation was my decision and the impact on Troy was likely to be minimal, surrogacy was a whole other kettle of fish and needed both of us to be fully committed for it to go smoothly. My deal-breaker, which I kept in mind during the process and the pregnancy, was that my relationship with Troy had to remain intact beyond surrogacy. If he was unhappy, uncomfortable or unsupportive of anything, then we could not proceed until that issue was resolved. My relationship with him was more important, to us and our children, than the surrogacy itself.

From a legal standpoint, surrogate partners must be involved in the process because when the baby is born, the law presumes that the partner is also the legal parent. This includes being named on the original Birth Certificate. It means that the partner has to sign the Surrogacy Agreement. Post birth, they need to sign an Affidavit supporting the Parentage Order. Their support cannot be blase or token – it’s all-in, or not-at-all.

In practical terms, the requirements of the surrogate’s partner includes:

  1. Attending counselling and in some States, undergoing a psychological assessment. The number of appointments and timing will differ in each arrangement and depending on which professionals are involved. Some can be done by Skype, whilst others must be done in person.
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  2. Obtaining legal advice and signing the Surrogacy Agreement. Like counselling, the amount of appointments might vary but is generally less involved than counselling and most can be done via Skype.
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  3. Undergoing blood tests – this will depend on Clinic policy, but it is often required that surrogate partners must be tested for STIs prior to any embryo transfer.

The most important support that the surrogate’s partner will provide is during pregnancy, birth and in the fourth trimester. This includes practical support such as picking up the slack around the home and with the children, during times the surrogate is tired, unwell or heavily pregnant, and when she’s attending medical appointments. This can have an emotional and physical impact on the partner, and on the relationship between them and with the intended parents. If the partner is not fully supportive and involved in the surrogacy, the tough times during pregnancy can lead the partner to resent the surrogacy and the intended parents.

The Financial Relationship

One aspect of the surrogacy that is often delegated to the surrogate’s partner is managing the financial relationships with the intended parents. Surrogates are notorious for not asking for what they need, and for feeling guilty for burdening their intended parents. Her partner is one step removed from the pregnancy and the baby, and might be the best person to negotiate finances and ask for what the surrogate needs, on her behalf. Many surrogates report relying on their partner to take up the difficult conversations about money, so that they don’t feel that the surrogacy becomes about money.

Partner’s Needs

And what do the partners need? The intended parents should treat the surrogate and her partner as equal members of the team, and ensure they have built the relationship and trust with both of them. The partner needs to feel appreciated for the time and energy they put into surrogacy. Partners may also have trouble asking for help, so sometimes the intended parents need to be creative in how they provide support. They might offer to babysit their children so the surrogate and her partner can have a date night together, or take the children out of the house so the surrogate team can have some respite. Cooking meals and helping with housework can also alleviate pressure on the surrogate household.

Surrogate partners often worry about the impact of surrogacy on their family and the surrogate.  There are physical and emotional risks with any pregnancy, let alone doing it all for someone else. Partners understandably worry about how those risks impact on their family. It is important for the partners to access supports themselves, and to talk about these fears during the surrogacy counselling. I’m a great advocate for counselling for everyone, simply as part of any wellness plan, and it can be crucial as part of a positive and smooth surrogacy journey.

The partners are also impacted  by the surrogacy in other ways. They often receive similar questions to surrogates, which can be intrusive and even upsetting. Questions about how they feel about their partner carrying a baby for someone else, as well as all the usual curiosity about how a surrogate can possibly give away a baby. Partners are not immune the effects of intrusive or curiosity, and it’s important for the team to prepare themselves for how they might support each other and respond to people outside the team.

Overall, the surrogate team and the intended parents need to remember that the surrogate’s partner is as much part of the process and the team as the surrogate. Without her partner’s support, she is unlikely to be able to proceed with the surrogacy. The partner’s investment and commitment to the arrangement is crucial. And not simply for a good journey, but for the relationships that grow out of surrogacy – the partner’s relationships with the intended parents will be life-long, and is worth investing in.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Will the Surrogate Keep the Baby?

By |2019-02-20T06:37:08+00:00February 20th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, parentage order|

One of the first questions asked by intended parents considering surrogacy in Australia is “What if she wants to keep the baby?”

And one of the first questions asked by a surrogate and her partner is “What if they don’t take the baby?”

You may laugh at the irony of those two questions, and certainly many surrogates will scoff at the idea that they want to keep the baby. The fact is, if an intended parent is anxious about the prospect of their surrogate refusing to hand over the baby, there’s not much that can give them 100% certainty that it won’t happen.

So here’s some facts that might help. And whilst they are meant to help, they are in no way meant to diminish the intended parent understandable concerns.

  1. Most surrogates can conceive and carry a baby with their partner without medical or legal intervention, let alone blood tests, invasive physical examinations, police checks, counselling or involving another couple in their family planning. We don’t want to have any baby, we want to have your baby and give it to you.  This might seem a strange idea – why would anyone want to have a baby for someone else? Everything in altruistic surrogacy comes back to the intentions of everyone involved. If the baby was conceived with the intention that it is to be raised and loved by the intended parents, it would feel very strange to consider raising the baby ourselves. In fact, it could feel like grief. As surrogates, we become entirely invested in you becoming parents. If that expectation is not fulfilled, we can grieve for it. So, the idea that we would keep a baby we never intended keeping feels absurd. And this applies to traditional and gestational surrogates – even if we have a genetic connection to the baby, we never intended bringing it home. It’s yours – you can have it.
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  2. Yes, your baby is gorgeous and delightful and goodness that newborn smell is intoxicating! And still, we don’t want to take it home with us. Some of us are even willing to breastfeed and have skin-to-skin contact with the baby after the birth – and hand it over without any problems. Hormones are amazing, pregnancy and birth is amazing. Still, we don’t want your baby. Our body might react to the baby’s presence, and so it should – we carried baby for 9 months, it would be strange if we didn’t respond. But here’s the thing – the human brain is complex, and humans are capable of complex feelings and thoughts. I can simultaneously love my children and enjoy the time they are in school. Likewise, we can love your baby and have a physical reaction to baby – and still not want to raise it and take it home with us. Actually, we’d rather see you doing all the parenting, because that’s what we always intended.
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  3. Most people have an idea of what their family will look like. It changes over time, of course. But intended parents will understand the desire to have children is partly to do with how you see your future, and your expectations of raising children (2 or 3?) and when that might happen. Likewise, surrogates also have ideas about what their family looks like. For me, I was adamant that two kids was right for us. We considered adding a third, but it didn’t feel right. Our car fits two kids comfortably, we can holiday with two kids easily, we have goals that include two kids – and not three, or four. So, imagine if that image of family changes because another child arrives, unexpectedly. For me, the idea of a third child was out of the question. The possibility of having to raise surro-baby in our family was terrifying, and this possibility often causes anxiety for surrogates and their partners.  I remember cuddles with newborn surro-baby made me anxious – I hadn’t planned on looking after a newborn! Why did they keep handing her to me?!
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  4. But what about the law? I hear you ask. You’re right – Australian laws provide that surrogacy arrangements are not enforceable. At birth, the surrogate and her partner are the baby’s legal parents – for a bit, anyway. If the surrogate decides to keep the baby, by law there is nothing the intended parents can do to enforce the surrogacy agreement. They can go to the family courts, where the decision of where baby lives would be about the baby’s best interests, not based on the surrogacy agreement. Why is this? Well, because you can’t have a contract on a baby (that’s akin to child trafficking), and you can’t have a contract on a woman’s body. These are two fundamental legal principles that are maintained and are unlikely to change any time soon. So, I guess she could keep the baby…right? Do you know the statistics for a surrogate keeping the baby in Australia, since decent surrogacy laws were introduced (10 years ago in most States)? 0%. Nil. Zero. Certainly, there have been some negative outcomes where the surrogate and intended parents have not been friends after the birth…and still, the surrogate has not tried to keep the baby.
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    What’s more, in commercial surrogacy arrangements in the US, the chances of the surrogate keeping the baby are 5 times less likely than the intended parents refusing to take the baby. Think that over for a moment. Intended parents are more likely to refuse to take the baby than a surrogate is likely to want to keep it. So, who takes the biggest risk?
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  5. Then there’s the Birth Certificate. When baby is born, the surrogate and her partner are listed as the legal parents on the original Birth Certificate. That might feel surreal – trust me, it’s weirder for the surrogate and her partner to see their names listed as parents of your child. To change the Birth Certificate, the intended parents need to apply for a Parentage Order, which transfers parentage from the birth parents to the intended parents. And then, a fresh Birth Certificate is issued with the intended parents listed. You might not agree with the process, or the reasons for it. But given the ‘risks,’ versus the benefits of an altruistic, domestic surrogacy arrangement, a Birth Certificate shouldn’t be your main concern. In fact, you could see it as the ultimate recognition of the woman who brought your baby into the world, and a worthy part of your child’s story. After all, it’s their story too.

If you are an intended parent and are reading this, and still feeling anxious about the prospect of a surrogate keeping the baby, that’s ok. But it is something you need to work through before going ahead. There are overseas options that might suit you better. If you do pursue altruistic surrogacy in Australia, you need to work on building trust with your surrogate and her partner, so you can feel comfortable going ahead with her. Address the anxiety in counselling as well. If you are worrying that she might keep the baby, you should not be progressing the relationship any further. Trust is fundamental to altruistic surrogacy. And by trusting, you open yourself up to some amazing possibilities in the relationship and sharing the experience together.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 33: Marnie: Post Surrogacy Reflections

By |2019-02-18T22:53:34+00:00February 18th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process|

Marnie B spoke to me back in Episode 21, when she was heading into the third trimester of her pregnancy with surro-bub. In our first interview, Marnie talked about all the preparation and relationship-building she and her partner did with their intended parents. Since then, Marnie has delivered a baby girl for the parents, and is now 5 months post-partum. In this interview, she reflects on the last trimester, the birth, and the fourth trimester as a surrogate. Did all her preparation pay off? What were her emotions like post-partum? What’s her relationship with the parents and baby Sienna?

We also talked about the importance of having a birth photographer involved for a surrogacy birth.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

The Importance of Surrogacy Birth Photography

By |2019-02-12T02:50:14+00:00February 12th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, birth, Blog|

Birth photography is an art form. You only need to search #birthphoto on Instagram and find out how popular, and amazing it can be. I would have liked to have a birth photographer for my first two births, but we decided that iPhone photos would suffice. I have some low-res photos of me labouring and birthing my second son at home, and there’s no doubt that a professional photographer would have captured the moment (and the lighting!) much better.

When I fell pregnant with surro-baby, I considered birth photography and thought it would be nice, but perhaps a bit indulgent. I didn’t want my intended parents to spend more money than was necessary. They didn’t consider it until I mentioned it, and none of us thought it was a priority.

That was until I had a passing conversation with surrogacy counsellor Katrina Hale and became convinced that birth photography was essential for a surrogacy birth. Katrina says that the key moment for the surrogate is when she sees the intended parents meet their baby for the first time. This might be in the birthing suite, or theatre, or in recovery. So when that moment is compromised – perhaps by pain medication, or someone standing between the surrogate and the intended parents, or by an emergency in the birthing room, the surrogate can lose or forget that moment. And this is not a moment she can repeat. If that moment is not captured, the surrogate can spend considerable time trying to process the birth and those crucial first moments. If the birth became an emergency, or was traumatic, her trauma may be magnified by the fact that she didn’t see the intended parents meet the baby that she has carried for 9 months.

Birth photographers can bridge that gap. And not just for the surrogate, but for the intended parents, and the surrogate’s partner and support people as well. And for the child, when they are older, it can provide them with vital images of their birth story.

For me, I played out the moment of the surrogacy birth in my mind for the entire pregnancy. I had ideas of birthing in water, as I had with my second child, and bringing the baby into my arms, and seeing my intended parents’ faces as they met their baby. I expected all my hard work to pay off in that moment. I would hand baby to them, and see them become parents.

I talked to my intended parents about wanting a birth photographer, and they agreed that it was important. And I’m so glad we did it. Our photographer, Bree Downes, was keen to know the dynamics in our arrangement. Bree is also a Doula, so she knows about labour and birth, and came well-prepared. She told us about how she works – snapping photos in the background, remaining unobtrusive and quietly capturing the moments. Bree knows the importance of birth photography, as she says ‘Having a birth photographer is an incredible way to honour your journey to parenthood. It allows you to be in the moment without having to worry about taking images yourself, and having someone outside your immediate circle gives a beautiful perspective ‘looking in’ to your new family and your experience.’

As it happened, and as these things tend to do, the birth didn’t go according to the photo reel I had created in my mind. I had a caesarean section, and as Bree was not allowed in theatre, my husband became the on-the-spot photographer. He took dozens of photos of the birth, and of the intended parents’ faces as they met their daughter. When we got to Recovery, Bree stepped in with her camera and kept snapping away. Those photos, both from my husband and from Bree, tell the story of the birth, and capture many beautiful moments in those first hours. I am so glad we have those photos, the professional and ones taken by my husband, because even now I can look at them and reflect on those moments. The photos form part of the story, taken from all angles and not just from my position on the bed. As Bree says, ‘Giving birth is a surreal experience for all involved, especially the birthing woman. Having images that document your unique journey can help not only immortalise your experience but also process it.’

Surrogacy birth photography might not be for everyone, but I don’t know of anyone who has regretted having a photographer involved. If you are entering a surrogacy arrangement, consider the below tips to decide if it’s right for you.

  • Talk about it with your team: set birth photography as an agenda item and decide if it’s important to your team;
  • Reach agreements about sharing the photos. You might have an agreement about which photos to share and with whom. Will the birth video be uploaded to Youtube? Or kept under lock and key under your bed?
  • If you aren’t hiring a professional photographer, consider nominating a team member to take photos. Perhaps the surrogate’s partner or support person?
  • Make sure the photographer knows to capture the moment of birth AND everyone’s reactions. This might mean trying to capture two things at the same time! This is really important – the surrogate wants to see everyone’s faces as they meet their baby!
  • If you are hiring a professional photographer (my advice: it’s worth it!), give them a brief about who is in your team, and talk to them about how surrogacy works and why photography is important to you. Meet them beforehand and find out if they’re a good match for you.

Another benefit of birth photography is that it normalises birth. Intended parents who haven’t birthed or observed birth before might find it useful to watch youtube videos of birth, and look at birth photographs on Instagram. Our birth photos have started many a conversation, and hopefully helped to de-stigmatise surrogacy and educate people about the beauty of birth, surrogacy, and the family we created.

Photos on this post were all taken by Bree Downes, Doula and Birth Photographer. The photos are of Kate, Mike and Glenn (Annabelle’s birth), Amanda, Dhusk and Tim (Sailor’s birth) and myself, Mike and Nate (Darcey’s birth).

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 32: Katrina Hale

By |2019-02-12T10:57:11+00:00February 11th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process|

She’s been described as the guardian angel of altruistic surrogates across Australia. Really, how could I not have her on the Podcast with a commendation like that?

Katrina Hale is a Psychologist and Infertility Counsellor with over 20 years counselling experience. She is passionate about surrogacy and a strong supporter of all walks of the community that wish to create a family through surrogacy or assisted reproduction. She is committed to helping Intending Parents and Surrogates and their partners successfully navigate their surrogacy journey together.

Katrina has been my surrogacy counsellor for 2 years, and the impact of her support has been immeasurable. A conversation with Katrina gives me clarity and peace of mind, and allows me to process the complexity of surrogacy, egg donation and family.  Other surrogates say that they feel ‘like a huge weight has been lifted off [their] shoulders’ when they speak to Katrina. ‘She has a great flair for creating metaphors, is a fantastic advocate for surrogates [and] she works tirelessly in the surrogacy community.’

Katrina’s Twenty Things to Think About When Choosing Your Surrogacy Relationship is an amazing resource for intended parents and surrogates to consider individually and as a team, in preparing for a positive journey. I’m so privileged to bring you this interview with Katrina, which we hope will be a resource for intended parents and surrogates at all stages of the journey.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 31: Emmy

By |2019-02-11T10:37:31+00:00February 4th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, finding a surrogate, Surrogacy Podcast, victoria|

When growing her own family, Emmy struggled with gender disappointment and when she finally fell pregnant with a baby girl, she promised herself that she would repay the universe somehow. She looked for friends and family who might need a surrogate, but in the end she joined The Australian Surrogacy Community and found local intended parents Henry and Lisa.

Emmy talks about what attracted her to Henry and Lisa and her experience being their surrogate. Emmy birthed baby Harry for his parents in 2018.

You’ll love Emmy’s candour and humility. She also has great advice for anyone entering the surrogacy world: Get educated. Get active. And be proactive.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 30: Anna

By |2019-01-28T11:20:43+00:00January 28th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, finding a surrogate, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process|

“I wanted to do something big in life…”

So decided Anna, a South Australian teacher and mother of two, as she launched herself into the world of egg donation and surrogacy. In this episode, we talked about the legacy we leave our children, and Anna’s journey finding and meeting intended parents and offering to be their surrogate. But like all these things, it didn’t all go smoothly and Anna and her first intended parents parted ways. And whilst they remain friends, Anna was shattered by the break-up. Anna eventually started ‘dating’ new intended parents, and they are now part-way through their journey.

You may be wondering why Anna is dressed as Wonder Woman in the photo. Good question. If you look closely, you’ll see that her costume is made with the packets from IVF medication, which she kept from her egg donation cycles!

Anna also works with Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service and is known within the surrogacy community for her data collection and stats analysis!  If you are interested in Anna’s thoughts on finding a surrogate in Australia, you should listen to Episode 20. You might also like to check out The Five Love Languages, which many surrogacy teams consider when building their relationship.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

One Year On

By |2019-01-21T10:43:39+00:00January 21st, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Blog, gay dads, motherhood, sisterhood, surrogacy, surrogate, traditional surrogacy|

Surro-baby, Darcey, turned one last weekend. Her dads threw her a party, of course, and like all first birthdays, it was more of an anniversary for the parents than it was a party for the baby. An anniversary of survival, of joy and frustration and tears (hers, theirs, and mine!) and love and learning about each other and the journey of parenthood. I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and relieved it’s not me living it!

So often in the last year, I’ve been asked about my surrogacy journey and specifically about my relationship with Darcey and her parents. So much of what we know about surrogacy is what we see in the media, and usually that’s based on commercial arrangements overseas. People are curious whether I still see Darcey, and whether I have a bond with her and what my relationship is with her parents. So, in light of it being my one year anniversary and Darcey’s first birthday, here’s my reflections on the last twelve months.

The first days after Darcey’s birth was a bit of blur of hormones and overwhelming joy and love. The oxytocin was flowing and we (Darcey’s dads, myself and my partner, Troy) were in a bit of a bubble of love. It was lovely! It was a bit overwhelming because I felt like there wasn’t a guide book for how any of us were supposed to feel or act. I also felt like a bit of a circus act, because we had lots of people sending their well wishes and demanding details of the birth and the surrogacy arrangement, and midwives at the hospital ‘checking in’ to see whether I was falling apart. We were relieved to leave the hospital and back to our own comfort zones.

The first weeks were a bit of a mixture of emotions and activity – Troy and I getting on with our home lives, getting the kids ready for kinder and school, and work, and me recovering from birth and expressing milk for Darcey. And of course, lots of visits with Darcey and her dads. I found these weeks a bit strange, and as I like to feel in control, that lack of routine or consistency was a little unsettling. I was rather sad that our surrogacy journey was ‘over’ and I didn’t want it to end, because I’d had such a lovely time. I even offered to carry another baby for them immediately. Let’s say, the oxytocin ride was amazing, but quite the rollercoaster!

The biggest frustration for me was not being able to drive, and my body not moving the way I wanted it to. I had a caesarean section, and whilst I knew intellectually that my body was recovering from major surgery, I was frustrated that I was sore and tired and slow. My youngest child was learning to ride a bike, and I couldn’t move fast enough to keep up. I had to keep reminding myself that I’d just had a baby, because part of my brain hadn’t caught up to reality. It is one of the amazing things about the body and the mind – of course I knew that I’d had a baby, but it didn’t stop me wanting to get back to normal as soon as possible. I’d never wanted to care for a newborn again, so why couldn’t I get back to my usual routine?

Over the next few months, it was like a gradual ‘weaning’ process for me and Darcey and her dads. In the early weeks we would see each other ever day, then every few days, and then once a week, and then once, sometimes twice a fortnight. They were enjoying their newborn, and I was finding my way as the ‘ex’ surrogate. What was my role, now that I wasn’t pregnant and had no job to do? It was also confusing, and sometimes confronting.  Sometimes I resent the impact that surrogacy has had on me and my family, knowing that they got the baby and I got…a postpartum body and hair loss. I’m still dealing with the hair loss, which bothers me more than I expected it to.

Even with lots of other things happening in my life, I still had lots of processing and thinking to do about the surrogacy, and the birth, and Darcey and her dads. I have access to an amazing surrogacy counsellor, Katrina Hale, who regularly debriefs with me about all this stuff, and I also had lots of support from other surrogates. Less than 60 surrogacy babies are born in Australia each year; having friends who understand the feelings and thoughts is so necessary and appreciated. Traditional surrogacy is all the more complex, and traditional surrogates are all the more rare.

During that time, I was able to put a lot of my creative energy into other things, including creating the Podcast, and organising the Surrogates Sisterhood Day. I also set myself a running goal, to run 10km at the Carman Women’s Fun Run in December. Having other things to focus on was really useful.

My relationship with Darcey’s dads has changed, and grown. I spent a lot of time in the early months second-guessing why they wanted to spend time with me, and sometimes I still do. I worry that they only spend time with me because I gave them a baby; that they feel they have a debt to repay. And they probably do feel indebted to me, but that’s not a good foundation for friendship. I remember feeling surprised that they seemed to like spending time with me; perhaps I thought they would stop once the baby was here? Katrina reckons there are two certainties with surrogacy – the surrogate worries that she will be abandoned. And the intended parents worry that she’ll keep the baby. I admit I was surprised when I fell into the cliche. These days we have a new normal; we spend time together as families and I babysit for Darcey occasionally. I still worry that there is a power-imbalance in our relationship; that they will forever feel they need to express their appreciation, and worry that they’ll ever offend me. I think most surrogates find the power-imbalance really uncomfortable.

As for my relationship with Darcey, it took me a while to realise that it is a journey and not a destination. I remember wanting to know what she would think of me when she’s 10, or 15, or 25. Would she know who I am? Would she recognise me? I would see her face and be struck by how familiar she seemed, as if I am surprised by the resemblance she has to me or my kids. Even now, when I see a photo of Darcey in my newsfeed, I draw breath. I know that face! Oh wait, of course I do, it’s Darcey. Katrina thinks it must be a primal response, which some donors and donor-conceived children also experience when they meet each other. Like we’re recognising ourselves in the other person, perhaps. But it took me a while to accept that it is a perpetual journey; that I don’t know what my relationship with Darcey will look like in the future, and that’s ok. I’ve found comfort in accepting that I have limited control over it, because I don’t have all the answers. And at some point she’ll decide what she needs from me and what our relationship is to be.

These days, I spend time with Darcey and her dads regularly. She’ll know me as Aunty Sarah, and of course she’ll know her story. But whilst I recognise her as being from me, and the baby I carried, I don’t feel like her parent. I don’t feel like I need to take on a parenting role for her. I don’t feel bonded to her the way I do to my kids. She looks for her dads when they leave the room – and I find that affirming, because I know her primary attachments are to the people who are her parents, just as we intended. My relationship with Darcey is different; more than an aunt-niece relationship, but not the same as a mother-daughter relationship.

The first birthday and the anniversary of me giving birth feel like two separate events, both worthy of reflection and acknowledgement. “It’s complex” is the best descriptor I can come up with. There is no box that any of this fits in. I feel some peace as we meet this milestone – this chapter  is closing, whilst the book is still being written. I have other things to focus on and surrogacy, whilst sometimes all-consuming, is not a career (unless you’re a surrogacy lawyer, of course!).

There have been multiple comments from Darcey’s dads over the year about how lucky they feel to have her in their lives, and plenty of people reflecting on how lucky Darcey is to have her dads. And I agree on both fronts. But in everything that we’ve been through in the past year, and how much we’ve shared over the past 3 years, I must say that I am the luckiest person. I am so privileged to have been a part of this journey and to be a part of Darcey’s life, and for her dads to have let me be part of theirs.

Surrogacy is incredibly complex, a perpetual journey, and moreso than I ever imagined. My life is richer and I am so grateful for it. There is such a special sweetness in participating in creation.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

How Do I Find a Surrogate in Australia?

By |2019-02-05T09:44:16+00:00January 18th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, finding a surrogate, surrogacy process|

So you’ve decided to explore surrogacy as an option to grow your family. You’ve done some google searches and are finding the information-overload a bit overwhelming. Rest assured, you’re not alone and plenty of other intended parents have traveled this journey before you. This post provides some information to set you on your way to finding a surrogate within Australia.

Before you go looking for a surrogate, you need to know if you meet the criteria for surrogacy in Australia. This is crucial – you cannot pursue surrogacy unless you have been advised by a medical professional that this is an option for you. Infertility whilst challenging, is not of itself grounds for surrogacy. If you or your partner have a uterus, you must have medical clearance to take the next step. There are lots of reasons why people pursue surrogacy – generally speaking, an incapacity to conceive or carry a baby to term will qualify – whether it’s chronic illness, incompatible medication, or recurrent pregnancy loss. Only a medical professional can make that assessment. If you are a same-sex male couple, you will qualify of course, except in Western Australia where gay men cannot currently access surrogacy – this is likely to change in the next year or two.

If you have been advised to pursue surrogacy to grow your family, you can start searching for a surrogate. The first thing to remember is that intended parents outnumber women who are willing to carry a baby for someone else. Many intended parents travel overseas to pursue surrogacy, because surrogacy in Australia is not common. Approximately 60 surro-babies are born in Australia each year – several hundred are born overseas. And whilst I fully support and encourage altruistic surrogacy within Australia, the reality is that less than 1 in 5 couples seeking a surrogate will find one in Australia.

There are, however, lots of reasons why you should consider Australian surrogacy as an option. For one, the arrangement is regulated by Australian laws, which means the surrogate’s rights are protected and the child’s best interests are paramount. You’ll be able to have lots of contact with your surrogate and her family. For any baby conceived through the arrangement, they will also be able to have contact with her  as they grow up and get to know their story. Surrogates and intended parents report positive ongoing relationships well beyond the pregnancy or birth.

Surrogacy in Australia is a bit like dating. And just like dating, it takes time and commitment for it to work. The parties need to be friends and have built sufficient trust for it to be a positive journey. Most new couples don’t make a baby within a few months! Surrogacy is not just about making a baby – it is about growing families and friendships. Altruistic surrogates are not paid to carry a baby; their reward is entirely in the giving and the ongoing relationships they have with the family they’ve helped create.

If that sounds like something you’re interested in, read on! If you would prefer to consider overseas options, you can book a consult with Sarah via the link below.

Finding a surrogate in Australia is challenging and, as we say around here, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s lots of learnings, growth and value in the journey. Here’s some avenues you might explore to meeting and building a relationship with that amazing woman and her family.

  1. Tell Your Story. This might seem like a strange way to find a surrogate, but it can work. Half of surrogacy arrangements in Australia are through ‘existing relationships’ – that is friends and family members. Many surrogates will tell you that they considered being a surrogate but didn’t know anyone in their friends or family who needed one. Have you told your friends and family about your intentions to grow your family? Do they know where you’re up to with that plan? Some intended parents will share their story in an email to their loved ones, and offer to talk to anyone who wants more information. Women who are considering becoming surrogates can access a free initial legal advice session with me before they make any final decisions. You might like to send them a copy of The Australian Surrogacy Handbook if they’re looking for more information.
    .
    Whilst I advocate for people sharing their story with friends and family, there are laws prohibiting advertising for a surrogate. Be careful that your story is just that – that you want to have a child and your reasons why you need someone else to carry for you. Be careful not to say anything that might look like an advertisement.
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  2. Join the Community. There are Facebook groups and forums you can join to meet other intended parents and surrogates. Below are a few you should try:
    1. The Australian Surrogacy Community on Facebook. This is a social group of intended parents and surrogates from around Australia. It is well-moderated and the community is supportive and generous with information. There are also regular catch-ups in many States which are organised through this group. I met my intended parents through this group, as lots of teams do.
    2. Egg Donation Australia  is another Facebook group and membership includes altruistic egg donors and egg recipients around Australia.
    3. Fertility Connections is a forum connected to The Australian Surrogacy Community Facebook group. This is where a lot of the discussions happen and parties can provide information about their stories and their intentions.
    4. Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service is an new option for surrogates and intended parents to meet. It is designed to support both surrogates and intended parents in forming well-suited teams and to support those teams over their surrogacy journeys with inbuilt counselling, mentoring and expenses management support.
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  3. Get Educated. There are lots of resources on this site for you to learn about surrogacy options and how altruistic surrogacy works in Australia. Take your time to read the information, download the Handbook and get educated about how surrogacy works in Australia. You should also listen to The Australian Surrogacy Podcast, which includes stories from surrogates and intended parents who have been where you are and have generously shared their experiences so that others can benefit.
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  4. Speak to Professionals. Now is a good time to speak to a fertility specialist about embryo creation and how a Clinic might support you in your surrogacy journey. Ask other intended parents in your State which specialists and Clinics they recommend. You might also speak to a lawyer about your options and the processes involved. You can book a consult with me via the link below.
    .
  5. Get Ready to Make a Baby. Whilst you are researching and getting to know other people in the community, you should also consider what options are available to make embryos. If you need an egg donor, you might want to look for one before searching for a surrogate. Embryo creation takes time. Some Clinics cannot make embryos before a surrogate is available, due to the State laws – it is worth seeking advice about your specific circumstances to find out the best way forward.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Book an initial 30 minute consult

Click here to book!

Why Surrogacy Agreements are not like Contracts, and How to Write Your Own

By |2019-01-15T01:13:42+00:00January 14th, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, surrogacy, surrogacy process, written agreements|

The elements of a basic contract include (1) an offer, (2) acceptance, (3) consideration (usually money) and (4) an intention to create a legal relationship. For example, you offer to buy a car for $10,000. The owner of the car accepts your offer; you provide $10,000 as payment (consideration), in return for the car. Both you and the owner of the car enter into a legal relationship to exchange money for the car.

In altruistic surrogacy arrangements, the surrogate and her partner offer to carry a baby for another person or couple, and the intended parents accept. But there’s no real consideration. The intended parents might get a baby, and the surrogate can expect to have her expenses covered. All going well, the surrogate is rewarded for her good deed with lots of love and fuzzy feelings. And whilst the parties might intend to enter a legal relationship, the fact is that surrogacy agreements in Australia are not enforceable, other than to ensure the surrogate’s expenses are covered.

So if an altruistic surrogacy agreement is not like a contract, why would you write it as if it were a contract? In most States, a written Agreement is required as evidence of the arrangement, and is a prerequisite for a Parentage Order.  There is no requirement for what should be in a Surrogacy Agreement, which means you can include things that are important to you, and leave out things that you do not want.

A good Surrogacy Agreement should be written in good faith to a trusting relationship between the parties. The Agreement might include:

  1. Recitals – these are background details, such as
    1. the names, dates of birth and addresses of all the parties;
    2. details of the reasons why the intended parents need a surrogate;
    3. details of embryos and who provided the gametes to create the embryos (including details of any donors);
    4. details of the Clinic and specialist treating the parties;
    5. that the surrogate and her partner have offered to carry a baby for the intended parents, who have accepted the offer;
    6. that the agreement is altruistic and that the surrogate will not be receiving any payment for carrying baby for the intended parents.
  2. Surrogacy Expenses: That the intended parents agree to cover the expenses of the surrogate as determined by the relevant laws in the intended parents’ State.
  3. Pregnancy and Birth Care: Agreements about pregnancy and birth care, if you have any.
  4. Termination of Pregnancy: if there are agreements about when a pregnancy may or may not be terminated, you can include them in the Agreement. Remember that having it in writing does not make it enforceable. Many surrogacy teams find it difficult to make a decision about termination until they are faced with such a scenario.
  5. Details of the counselling that the parties have completed.
  6. Agreements and understanding that the surrogate has bodily autonomy and can make the final decision about treatment she receives.
  7. Agreements about registering the child’s birth with a name chosen by the intended parents.
  8. Parentage Order – statement that the intended parents intend to apply for a Parentage Order after the baby is born and that the surrogate and her partner intend to consent to the application.
  9. Legal Advice: Statement that each party has obtained independent legal advice.

Some Agreements, particularly ones that look like contracts, are often based on overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements. Remember, this is an altruistic arrangement, and writing an Agreement like a commercial contract will undermine the trust and goodwill between the parties. Things to avoid in a Surrogacy Agreement include:

  1. Elements that are too prescriptive, such as listing the way the surrogate should or should not behave, or what she can and cannot eat. Many surrogates agree not to drink alcohol during pregnancy; having it in writing does not make it more enforceable but it may serve to make her feel like she’s being micro-managed.
  2. A termination clause that allows the parties can terminate the Agreement during a pregnancy. The Agreement is not enforceable; a termination clause is unnecessary. It also suggests that if the surrogate ‘breaks’ an agreement (for example, that she won’t drink alcohol), that the intended parents can terminate the agreement for that reason.
  3. Any clause that provides for the surrogate to reimburse the intended parents if she has a miscarriage due to ‘wanton recklessness’. My clients always find these clauses upsetting and offensive. If you are worried that your surrogate might be reckless or negligent during pregnancy, you should discuss that during counselling and consider not entering the agreement at all. Trust is a crucial element of an altruistic surrogacy arrangement. Even if a surrogate were to miscarry and there was evidence that she was ‘reckless,’ it is unlikely that any Court would order her to reimburse the intended parents for expenses. Remember that the surrogate maintains bodily autonomy and that pregnancy termination is legal in most Australian States.

Surrogacy arrangements are, by their nature, legal arrangements and that’s why lawyers are inevitably involved. But in my experience, lawyers should be a positive influence on the process – helping you understand the consequences of entering into the arrangement, and your rights and responsibilities. The relationships, however, will outlast any legal process. My final piece of advice, therefore, is to focus on the relationship and trust building, and the counselling, to ensure you have a positive experience. Because at the end of the day, it won’t matter what is written in an Agreement; it is the relationships that are important.

Remember, all parties need to obtain independent legal advice, and nothing here should be seen to replace independent legal advice. If you have questions or need assistance, get in touch with me via the links.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

So You Want to Be a Surrogate?

By |2019-01-18T19:59:50+00:00January 3rd, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, America, Blog, laws, surrogacy process, surrogate|

I remember when I first considered becoming a surrogate – searching everywhere for information and ending up down many an internet rabbit hole. I was excited and nervous; my husband was skeptical. How could we know if it was right for us, that we wouldn’t regret our decision, that our family and children would be ok at the end of it? And how could we find reliable information to help us make the decision? We tried accessing information and support from an IVF Clinic, who told us that they couldn’t help because we weren’t paying clients.

In the end, we made our decision to take the leap into surrogacy, without really knowing what we were getting ourselves into. And luckily, our relationship with our intended parents blossomed and withstood the challenges ahead – the counselling, the legal process, psychological assessments, and ethics approval. And then trying to become pregnant, and pregnancy, birth and beyond. We worked really hard at our relationship, but we also got lucky with each other.

Are you considering becoming a surrogate, for a friend, family member, or someone you hope to meet on the internet? It’s a daunting prospect; so much to consider and a lot of information to take in. Are you racing ahead, excited to get started and make someone’s dreams come true? (I know I was!). We have a saying in the surrogacy community – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, (take off those rose-coloured glasses!), absorb the information, ask lots of questions. And, get advice.

I want to promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements in Australia, and to do that I think everyone needs to be fully prepared before they jump in. So with that in mind, I’m providing free initial surrogacy consults to any woman (and her partner) who is considering becoming a surrogate. I’ll take you through the laws, the criteria, the processes…and add a dash of personal experience to help you on your way.

I’ll help you make informed decisions so you can build a surrogacy arrangement on a strong foundation. Because I want you to know if surrogacy is right for you before you take the leap. I want you to have a positive experience, and I’ll do what it takes to get you there.

To book a free consult, click the booking link below.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Book a FREE initial Surrogate consult

Click here to book!

Frequently Asked Questions

By |2019-02-27T06:00:55+00:00January 2nd, 2019|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, costs of surrogacy, finding a surrogate, ivf, parentage order, surrogacy process, traditional surrogacy|

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Book an initial 30 minute consult

Click here to book!

The Sisterhood

By |2019-02-17T08:41:30+00:00December 20th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, sisterhood, surrogate|

Surrogacy is a unique and special journey, not just for the intended parents, but for the women privileged enough to carry a baby for someone else. It’s an unusual thing to do, and most people don’t understand why we would do it. Surrogates lean on each other, inevitably, because what we are doing is so unique that we need the support of other women who have done it themselves. My surrogacy experience has been richer and all the more amazing because of the friendships I have formed with other surrogates.

Several years ago, inspired by my surro-sisters, I created the Surrogacy Sisterhood Care Packages. I wanted to honour the women who had birthed their surro-bub, let them know that their sisters thought they were amazing and make them feel acknowledged, special and cared for during the crucial post-birth weeks and beyond. The packages are sent out in the weeks after a surrogate gives birth, as a celebration of her journey and the new family she has helped to create.

In 2018, together with fellow surrogate Carla, we ran a Surrogacy Sisterhood Day in Sydney, providing much-needed support, community and friendship for our surro-sisters. We are planning another Sisterhood Day in June 2019, but our capacity to provide a program for the surrogates is limited only by lack of funds. We provide our skills and support for free; funds are needed to pay for the venue hire, catering and gift bags for the attendees.

The Care Packages and the Sisterhood Day were originally funded by donations from other surrogates. After awhile, with over 20 surro-births in a year (sometimes 6 or 7 births in one month!), it became necessary to seek contributions from members of the Australian Surrogacy Community. If you are interested in contributing to the Care Packages and the Sisterhood Day, you can do so by clicking on the link below. Thank you! All contributions are very much appreciated.

Click here to donate

Are you considering becoming a surrogate?

Sarah offers FREE initial consults for women (and their partners) who are considering becoming surrogates. You can book at the link below.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Book a FREE initial Surrogate Advice Consult

Click here to book!

Gift Giving in Altruistic Surrogacy Arrangements

By |2018-12-29T01:19:27+00:00November 29th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, laws, surrogacy, surrogacy process, surrogate|

Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia. Altruistic surrogacy arrangements are legal – that’s where the surrogate receives no material benefit, reward, payment or inducement in exchange for carrying a baby for someone else.

One of the first questions asked by surrogates and intended parents, is whether the intended parents can give gifts to their surrogate, or her family members, without compromising the surrogacy agreement or the Parentage Order application.  And what sort of gifts might be ok, and what might be considered a reward or inducement? The answer is complex!

The legislation can be interpreted very broadly, such that even the gift of a massage voucher or a bunch of flowers could be seen as a material benefit or reward for the surrogate. So how do intended parents look after their surrogate, support her through any treatment and pregnancy, and show their appreciation without crossing over into illegal territory?

The laws are designed to prevent commercial arrangements, involving women who are inspired to be surrogates for promise of payment. The law is not designed to punish people who accept gifts of love, friendship, appreciation and support.

A good rule of thumb is to act as you would if you were to give a gift to any other friend. Gifts that are not cash, such as massage vouchers, flowers, ready-cooked meals, movie tickets and dinner vouchers are unlikely to be considered by any reasonable person as an inducement or reward for surrogacy. And surrogates are unlikely to be enticed to go through the challenges of pregnancy simply for the promise of a free movie ticket!

Cash deposits into a surrogate’s bank account are a bit trickier. In some States, not all, it is acceptable for the surrogate to be reimbursed for loss of wages due to the surrogacy treatment, pregnancy or birth and postnatal period. Loss of wages might be paid into the surrogate’s bank account in periodic or lump sum payments. If this applies to your arrangement, you should ensure that the amounts deposited correspond to evidence of the lost earnings, such as evidence of payslips or a record of reduced work hours.

For other reimbursements, such as the cost of prenatal supplements, or travel costs, consider direct payments to the clinic, or giving your surrogate a linked debit card that she can use to purchase pregnancy-related items.

So what about bigger gifts, or “push presents” (that’s a gift given to a woman to celebrate her having pushed out a baby!). Whilst a massage voucher might alleviate a pregnant woman’s sore back, it’s hardly an inducement to be a surrogate. What about bigger gifts, like electrical appliances, a holiday, or some nice jewelry? Again, the legislation is clear that surrogates should not receive material benefits or reward for being a surrogate. But is a gift of love and appreciation a reward, or inducement, or material benefit of surrogacy? You should exercise both caution and common sense. And if in doubt, get legal advice.

Intended parents worry that if they give any gifts to their surrogate could compromise the surrogacy arrangement and that the Court could refuse to make the parentage order. The laws provide that the Courts can refuse to make a parentage order if the arrangement looks to be a commercial transaction. And surrogates can be prosecuted if they have broken the law and received payment for being a surrogate. Some things to consider:

  • The police are pretty busy with solving other crimes and don’t have time to worry too much about whether your surrogate received a spa package as a reward for carrying your baby;
  • The Courts are most concerned with the baby’s best interests, and whether making the parentage order would be in the baby’s best interests. If all the criteria are met for a parentage order, the Courts are unlikely to refuse to make the Order simply because the surrogate received a gift from the intended parents.
  • There have been no prosecutions that we are aware of, of a surrogate who accepted gifts from the intended parents.

If in doubt, you should contact your lawyer. Our advice: be kind, exercise common sense, and remember: if it looks like a commercial arrangement it probably is. If it looks like a gift of love and friendship, it probably is.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Applying for a Parentage Order

By |2019-01-09T02:53:23+00:00November 15th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, interstate surrogacy, laws, parentage order, parenthood, surrogacy, surrogacy process, surrogate, written agreements|

After a baby is born through an Australian surrogacy arrangement, a Parentage Order is required to transfer parentage from the surrogate and her partner to the intended parents.

When the baby is born, the surrogate and her partner register the baby’s birth in the State where the baby is born. They can register the baby with a name chosen by the intended parents.

The surrogate and her partner are listed as the baby’s parents on the birth certificate.

Once the birth certificate is issued, the intended parents must apply for a Parentage Order (also called a Substitute Parentage Order). They apply to a Court in the State where they live. The purpose of a Parentage Order is to transfer parentage from the surrogate and her partner, to the intended parents. This has the effect of providing an Order that recognises the surrogacy arrangement, and who the true parents are. The Order also tells the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages in the surrogate’s State, to re-issue the birth certificate with the parents listed, instead of the surrogate and her partner.

For the Court to grant a Parentage Order, the intended parents will need to provide evidence of the surrogacy arrangement, and that the surrogate and her partner have relinquished care of the baby to the parents. This is usually provided by way of Affidavits from each of the intended parents and the surrogate and her partner.

The Court will need to see evidence that the parties received legal advice and counselling prior to the pregnancy. In some States, post-surrogacy counselling is also a requirement of the Parentage Order.

You should refer to the legislation in the state where the intended parents live to understand the requirements that apply to you.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Parenting Orders and Parentage Orders

By |2018-12-29T01:21:33+00:00November 5th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, America, Australia, Blog, Canada, laws, overseas, parentage order, Ukraine|

Parenting Orders are often made when parents are separated and need to formalise the arrangements for where the children will live and who they will spend time with. These are made in the family law courts.

Parentage Orders are made to transfer parentage from a surrogate and her partner, to the intended parents. These are made in State Courts. These Orders provide for the Birth Certificate to be changed, removing the surrogate and her partner, and replacing their names with those of the intended parents.

In Australian domestic surrogacy arrangements, the appropriate Orders are Parentage Orders.

In some international surrogacy cases, intended parents may choose to obtain Parenting Orders to recognise both parents as having parental responsibility for the child, once they return to Australia. This is generally not necessary where both the intended parents are already listed on the Birth Certificate.

Click here to see a Comparison of Parentage and Parenting Orders.

You may be told that you must have a Parenting Order if you had a child through international surrogacy. This is often not the case. Parenting Orders can only be obtained if you have evidence of the surrogacy arrangement, and can provide evidence that the surrogate and her partner consented to the Order being made. The Parenting Order application process can be complex, time-consuming and expensive – if you don’t need to do it, why would you bother? But if only one (or neither) of the Intended Parents is listed on the Birth Certificate, Parenting Orders can provide acknowledgement that the intended parents have parental responsibility of the child (and that the surrogate does not), and can assist with accessing services such as Medicare and Centrelink.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Traditional Surrogacy

By |2019-02-05T01:44:18+00:00October 28th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, egg donation, surrogacy process, surrogate, traditional surrogacy|

Traditional surrogacy is where a surrogate uses her own eggs to conceive, with sperm from an Intended Father or from a donor. It is different from gestational surrogacy, where the surrogate becomes pregnant with an embryo created with an egg from the intended mother or an egg donor. Traditional surrogacy is legal in every State of Australia except the ACT, and there is no surrogacy legislation in the Northern Territory.

Many fertility clinics will not facilitate a  traditional surrogacy arrangement, however it is worth contacting them to find out. Clinics in Victoria cannot facilitate a traditional surrogacy arrangement. This leaves home insemination as the only option. However, whilst the conception is all arranged in private, the parties still need to go through the process of counselling and obtaining legal advice beforehand.  A Parentage Order cannot be obtained after the birth unless all the pre-conception requirements are met.

Traditional surrogacy is less common than gestational surrogacy, due to the availability of IVF and egg donors. Surrogates are often more comfortable not being genetically related to the baby. And whilst traditional surrogacy does not usually involve an IVF Clinic, it is not something to pursue simply to save on expenses. If you are seeking an egg donor, you might like to join Egg Donation Australia.

I was a traditional surrogate and am aware of how complex and rewarding it can be. It is a different experience to gestational surrogacy, and should not be entered into lightly. I’ve written about my reflections as a traditional surrogate in the year after her birth. You can also watch the webinar below, with Doula Sheridon Byrne, where I talk about my experiences as a traditional surrogate.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Book an initial 30 minute consult

Click here to book!

Surrogacy Laws in Australia

By |2018-12-29T01:24:11+00:00October 21st, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Blog, laws, surrogacy, surrogacy process|

Are you exploring your options for growing your family through surrogacy? Below is an overview of Australian surrogacy laws as they stand today.

Surrogacy in Australia is regulated in each State, which means there is no uniform law that covers surrogacy across the country. Surrogacy laws in all States follow the same basic principles:

·   The Intended Parents must not be able to either conceive or carry a baby themselves. You should check the laws in your State to see who can access surrogacy.

·   The surrogacy arrangement is not enforceable. This means that if the surrogate does not relinquish the baby, or the intended parents do not accept the baby, neither party can enforce the agreement. However, the surrogate can enforce the agreement to recover prescribed costs.

·   The surrogacy arrangement must be altruistic. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in all States in Australia. This means the surrogate and her partner cannot be paid for carrying a baby for someone else.

·   Whilst surrogacy is altruistic, the intended parents must cover the surrogate’s expenses in relation to surrogacy, pregnancy and birth.

·   When the baby is born, the birth is registered in the State where the baby is born, with the surrogate and her partner listed as the baby’s parents on the Birth Certificate. After the birth, the Intended Parents can apply to the Court for a Parentage Order (also called a Substitute Parentage Order) in the State where they live. The Order transfers parentage from the birth parents (the surrogate and her partner) to the intended parents. The Birth Certificate is then re-issued with the new parents listed, instead of the surrogate and her partner.

The applicable laws are those in the State where the Intended Parents live. Click here to see a Comparison Chart of State Surrogacy Laws.

Surrogacy arrangements in Australia are regulated by State legislation. If you have a child born through international surrogacy arrangements, the Commonwealth Family Law Act applies.

The intended parents and the surrogate and her partner must obtain independent legal advice from separate lawyers. If a written agreement is required, parties might draft their own agreement, but it is not valid unless a lawyer has provided advice and all parties have signed the Agreement.

In all States, everyone should obtain independent legal advice before attempting to become pregnant. This applies to both gestational and traditional surrogacy arrangements.

If you are considering international surrogacy, you should consult a lawyer in your destination country.

Contact Sarah today and have a chat about how the Australian surrogacy laws affect you.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Altruistic Surrogacy: How Much Will it Cost?

By |2018-12-29T01:24:59+00:00October 14th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, costs of surrogacy, surrogacy process|

Intended parents are always keen to know how much surrogacy will cost them. There are so many variables depending on individual circumstances, so it can be hard to give an exact answer to that question. Intended Parents should expect to cover the expenses incurred by the surrogate and her partner in relation to the surrogacy arrangement, pregnancy and birth. You will need to get specific legal advice about what costs the intended parents must cover under the relevant State legislation, as it varies greatly.

You can expect the surrogacy in Australia will cost anywhere from $15,000 to over $100,000. The major variable is the cost fertility treatment, which will depend on what sort of treatment you require, and the success of any treatment and when the surrogate falls pregnant.

The costs you can expect will include:

Fertility treatment– this will depend on how many cycles are required, whether donor eggs or sperm are required, and the success of the treatment. Medicare rebates are not available for surrogacy arrangements and this will impact in different ways.

Legal Advice – Lawyers’ fees might be an hourly rate, or a fixed fee. Lawyer fees vary considerably and depend on a number of factors, including whether you need a written agreement. You should compare quotes beforehand, and seek out lawyers who specialise in surrogacy law. Intended parents need to cover the cost of their own legal advice as well as that of their surrogate and her partner.

Counselling and Psychological Assessments – some fertility clinics provide counselling as part of their service. For the most part, however, counselling and psychological assessments are provided by independent counsellors specialising in surrogacy.

Pregnancy and Birth – Surrogates are eligible for Medicare and public healthcare, just as if they were having their own baby. Medical costs that are not covered by Medicare need to be covered by the intended parents. This includes private health insurance, private healthcare and hospital fees as appropriate. It also includes medication and treatments that might be required during the pregnancy and birth.

Parentage Order – After the baby is born, the intended parents need to apply to Court for a Parentage Order to recognise them as the legal parents and to change the Birth Certificate. This can involve lawyers, and further counselling.

Other costs that might be payable, depending on the State legislation and individual circumstances, include:

  • travel costs (fuel, parking fees, train tickets) for the surrogate and her partner to attend for treatment, or for pregnancy appointments;
  • life insurance for the surrogate;
  • loss of income for the surrogate and her partner for days they need to take off for appointments related to surrogacy, pregnancy and birth;
  • non-medical treatment such as massage, naturopathy and acupuncture for the surrogate;
  • prenatal supplements.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Written Surrogacy Agreements

By |2018-12-29T05:56:00+00:00September 25th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, laws, surrogacy process, written agreements|

Surrogacy arrangements can be written into formal Agreements between the surrogate and her partner, and the intended parents.

Some states require surrogacy arrangements to have a written agreement, whilst other States do not require it but the parties might be inclined to have one anyway.

A written agreement is not enforceable, other than where a surrogate might need to claim costs and reimbursement for expenses incurred during the surrogacy.

A written agreement can help ensure everyone is on the same page and there is less likely to be conflict or misunderstandings.

Written agreements should cover the requirements of a surrogacy arrangement, such as counselling and legal advice. They can also cover agreements about other matters, such as:

  • Pregnancy and birth care options;
  • What costs the intended parents have committed to cover;
  • How the intended parents will reimburse their surrogate for costs;
  • How the intended parents will support their surrogate and her family in times of need;
  • How the parties will communicate with each other;
  • How the parties might resolve issues and conflict as it arises.

Remember that even if an agreement is in writing, it is generally unenforceable unless it relates to reimbursing the surrogate for prescribed costs.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 20: Sarah & Anna present at the Surrogacy Conference

By |2019-01-18T04:47:41+00:00August 28th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, finding a surrogate, interstate surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process|

Sarah and Anna presented this session to the Australian Surrogacy Conference in June. You’ll hear from Sarah with a broad overview of the surrogacy process in Australia, and then you’ll hear Anna talking about how to make connections and build strong foundations for a positive surrogacy journey within Australia.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 16: Brett & Stuart

By |2019-01-18T03:27:22+00:00July 31st, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Canada, fatherhood, gay dads, lgbt, overseas, premature birth, Surrogacy Podcast|

Brett and Stuart conceived baby Findlay with the help of a surrogacy in Canada. But things did not go to plan, and Findlay had to arrive at 25 weeks, due to his surrogate suffering with pre-eclampsia. As a result, Brett and Stuart up-ended their lives in Sydney, and lived in Canada for more than 5 months, until Findlay was big and strong enough to travel home to Australia.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Surrogacy in Australia – an Overview

By |2019-02-12T09:50:18+00:00July 18th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, Blog, surrogacy process|

Surrogacy within Australia is regulated in each State, which means there are no uniform laws that cover surrogacy across the country. Surrogacy laws in all States follow the same basic principles:

  • The Intended Parents must not be able to either conceive or carry a baby themselves. You should check the laws in your State to see who can access surrogacy. Whilst medical infertility is challenging, it is not of itself a qualifier for surrogacy. If you are experiencing infertility, your fertility specialist must recommend surrogacy as an option to you before you pursue this path. You may need to explore options of donor eggs or sperm before considering surrogacy.You might qualify for surrogacy if neither your or your partner have a uterus – this includes same-sex male couples, women born without a uterus (MRKH), and women who have undergone a hysterectomy. Western Australia currently does not allow gay couples to access surrogacy treatment, however this is likely to change in the next year or two.
  • The surrogacy arrangement is not enforceable. This means that if the surrogate does not relinquish the baby, or the intended parents do not accept the baby, neither party can enforce the agreement. However, the surrogate can enforce the agreement to recover prescribed costs. This might seem frightening to both the birth parents and the intended parents – rest assured the chances of the surrogate keeping the baby or the intended parents refusing to take the baby are extremely rare in Australia.
  • The surrogacy arrangement must be altruistic. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in all States in Australia. This means the surrogate and her partner cannot be paid a fee or reward for carrying a baby for someone else.
  • Whilst surrogacy is altruistic, the intended parents must cover the surrogate’s expenses in relation to surrogacy, pregnancy and birth. The specific expenses that can be covered varies from State to State, and you should rely on legal advice to ascertain what is covered. Many teams find it useful for the surrogate to have a bank card linked to the intended parents’ account which allows her to pay for medicine and expenses easily.
  • When the baby is born, the birth is registered in the State where the baby is born, with the surrogate and her partner listed as the baby’s parents on the Birth Certificate. After the birth, the Intended Parents can apply to the Court for a Parentage Order in the State where they live. The Order transfers parentage from the birth parents (the surrogate and her partner) to the intended parents. The Birth Certificate is then re-issued with the new parents listed, instead of the surrogate and her partner.

If you are looking for more information about surrogacy laws and processes, you should download your free copy of  The Australian Surrogacy Handbook.

If your are wanting specific advice about the processes or your options, you can book a consult via the link below.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Book an initial 30 minute consult

Click here to book!

Episode 14: Henry & Lisa

By |2019-01-18T03:26:40+00:00July 17th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, egg donation, fatherhood, finding a surrogate, motherhood, pregnancy loss, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process|

Henry & Lisa are well-known in the surrogacy community, both for their support of other intended parents and surrogates, but also for their senses of humour. In this episode, we chat about the upcoming birth of their baby, conceived through egg donation and surrogacy, and how they’ve traversed the infertility terrain.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 12: Kate

By |2019-01-18T03:26:21+00:00July 3rd, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, finding a surrogate, gay dads, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogate|

Kate is a gestational surrogate for a gay couple, Mike & Glenn (listen to their story at Episode 10). Kate is due to give birth any day now, and in this episode you’ll hear all about her plans for a positive surrogacy birth and postnatal period.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 11: Hillary

By |2019-01-18T03:26:14+00:00June 26th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Canada, cancer survivor, induced lactation, motherhood, overseas, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast|

Hillary survived cancer as a single mother, and when she met her prince charming years later, they decided to grow their family through surrogacy.

I am always inspired and humbled when I hear stories from women who have often gone through infertility, loss or survived cancer before turning to surrogacy. Hillary went through so much, and her tenacity and strength is amazing.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 8: Hayley

By |2019-01-18T03:24:54+00:00June 5th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, finding a surrogate, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process, surrogate|

Hayley is a gestational surrogate, and she and her intended parents all live in WA. Not everything went smoothly in Hayley’s surrogacy journey, and particularly during the last trimester. Hayley has some great advice for anyone exploring surrogacy and for how to make sure you have a positive experience.

Hayley volunteers with Surrogacy Australia and organises regular surrogacy catch-ups in WA. If you are interested in finding out more, join the Australian Surrogacy Community on Facebook and go to familiesthrusurrogacy.com

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 7: Carla (Part 1)

By |2019-01-18T03:24:37+00:00May 29th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, egg donation, gay dads, lgbt, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogate, traditional surrogacy|

This is a 2-part episode with Carla, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate. Carla has donated her eggs to 8 couples! In this episode we explore her egg donations and her reasons for donating, and hear all about her relationships with her donor babies and their parents.
If you are interested in egg donation, join the Egg Donation Australia group on Facebook.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 5: Rhiannon

By |2019-01-18T03:24:08+00:00May 15th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, gay dads, sister, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogate|

In this episode you’ll hear from the sensational Rhiannon, who was a gestational surrogate for her brother and his partner not once, but twice – and is planning on doing it again!

Listen now to hear how Rhiannon took her Aunty duties to a whole new level, all the while single parenting her own three kids and with the support of her interstate intended parents.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 3: Troy

By |2019-01-18T01:58:52+00:00May 1st, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, fatherhood, gay dads, infertility, ivf, parenthood, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogate partner|

In this episode of The Australian Surrogacy Podcast, I interviewed my husband, Troy, about his experience as the partner of a surrogate. I was often asked what Troy thought of me being a surrogate, so this week I thought it would be good to hear from Troy himself.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

Episode 1: Introducing Sarah

By |2019-01-18T01:44:44+00:00April 5th, 2018|Categories: altruistic surrogacy, Australia, finding a surrogate, gay dads, infertility, ivf, motherhood, surrogacy, Surrogacy Podcast, surrogacy process, traditional surrogacy, victoria|

In this first episode of The Australian Surrogacy Podcast, you’ll hear from me, Sarah Jefford, and about why I decided to make a surrogacy podcast.

I am a surrogate and a surrogacy lawyer living in Melbourne with my family. In 2015 I decided to become a surrogate, and in January 2018 I gave birth to a baby girl, Darcey, for her two dads Mike and Nate.

You’ll hear all about my journey to becoming a surrogate, as well as about me as a surrogacy lawyer.

 

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford. I’m a surrogacy, fertility and family lawyer. I’m also an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I promote positive, empowered altruistic surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

You can get in touch with me through the options below.

Contact Me

PO Box 366, Batman VIC 3058

Phone: 0400481703

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This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.