How do I find a surrogate in Australia?

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.

Looking for a surrogate and not sure where to start? We Need a Surrogate – What’s Next? And if you have a surrogate or intended parents, you can get started on the surrogacy process.

You can read a broad overview for surrogacy in Australia and how it works. If you’re interested in timelines and costs, this chart was developed by an intended parent to help you plan it out.

Sarah is a surrogate, and a surrogacy lawyer, and has written a comprehensive surrogacy guide, More Than Just a Baby: A Guide to Surrogacy for Intended Parents and Surrogates.

Do we qualify for surrogacy?
Before you go looking for a surrogate, you must know if you meet the criteria for surrogacy in Australia. Surrogacy is only available to those who have a medical or social need for surrogacy. If you or your partner have a uterus, you cannot pursue surrogacy unless you have been advised by a medical professional that surrogacy is an option for you. Infertility alone is not grounds for surrogacy. 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 and support you to pursue surrogacy.

If you and your partner do not have a uterus, then you likely qualify for surrogacy, depending on the state laws. Surrogacy arrangements are regulated by the surrogacy laws in the state or territory where the intended parents live. You can find out more about the laws in your state or territory.

If you are a same-sex male couple, you will qualify for surrogacy across Australia, except in Western Australia where gay men cannot currently access surrogacy – this is likely to change in the next year or two. If you are a same sex male couple or single man in WA, you can get in touch to talk through your options.

A reality check
If you have been advised to pursue surrogacy to grow your family, you can start searching for a surrogate. However, intended parents outnumber the women who are willing to carry a baby for someone else in Australia. Many intended parents travel overseas to pursue surrogacy, because surrogacy in Australia is not common. Approximately 80 surro-babies are born in Australia each year – several hundred are born overseas. And while I 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.

Then why try surrogacy in Australia?
There are lots of reasons why you should consider Australian surrogacy as an option. For one, the arrangement is regulated by Australian surrogacy 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.

Where are all the surrogates?
Many intended parents are lucky enough to find a surrogate within their friendship circle or family. It may feel overwhelming to ‘ask’ a family member to carry a baby for you, but you can start conversations with people around you, to let them know where you’re up to and why you need help to grow your family. Many of these conversations lead to surrogacy relationships. You might like to consider sharing your story to help you connect with the people around you. Some of my clients have met a surrogate through conversations in their workplace, or at school pick-up, or even at the hairdresser.

Other intended parents are lucky enough to find a surrogate who they didn’t know previously, such as in Facebook groups. 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 build a friendship and 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. There are 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. At least 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.
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    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.
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    While 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. 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. You can research the Blog for information about your state laws and how surrogacy works.
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  3. 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 local and virtual catch-ups in many states which are organised through this group. I met my intended parents through this group, as lots of teams do.
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    2. Egg Donation Australia  is another Facebook group and membership includes altruistic egg donors and egg recipients around Australia.
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  4. Speak to Professionals. You might like to speak to a fertility specialist about creating embryos 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.
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  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.

Beyond joining all the forums and groups, you also need to be prepared to connect with a surrogate, which goes beyond just being in the right place at the right time.

You can find more information in the free Surrogacy Handbook, reading articles in the Blog, by listening to more episodes of the Surrogacy Podcast. You can also book in for a consult with me below, and check out the legal services I provide.

Hi! I’m Sarah Jefford (she/her). I’m a family creation lawyer, practising in surrogacy and donor conception arrangements. I’m an IVF Mum, an egg donor and a traditional surrogate, and I delivered a baby for her Dads in 2018.

I advocate for positive, best practice surrogacy arrangements within Australia, and provide support and education to help intended parents make informed decisions when pursuing overseas surrogacy.

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