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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Egg Donation Australia is another Facebook group and membership includes altruistic egg donors and egg recipients around Australia.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.