How many surrogacy births are there in Australia each year?
There are about 105-110 surrogacy births in Australia each year. It is difficult to provide accurate information, as there are very few reliable records of exactly how many surrogacy arrangements there are, and how many babies born via surrogacy, and how many Parentage Orders granted. There is no centralised database of surrogacy arrangements and each state and territory has its own process for granting parentage orders. Some of my own case statistics for 2021-22 are detailed in this article.
According to the Australia and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database, there were 91 surrogacy births in 2020 in Australia and New Zealand in 2020, where conception occurred in an IVF clinic. This does not include the traditional surrogacy births where the parties conceived via home-insemination.
The 91 represents 39% of surrogacy embryo transfers that year – that means 39% of embryo transfers resulted in a live birth. If you are wondering ‘how many embryos do we need for a successful pregnancy?’ then this statistic suggests you should realistically expect to have at least 2-3 embryos.
I believe that traditional surrogacy arrangements account for about 1.5 in 10 of surrogacy arrangements in Australia. So, we can estimate that there were another 14 traditional surrogacy births in 2020, bringing the total number that year to about 105. In 2022, 18% of my arrangements involved traditional surrogacy.
What about babies born overseas?
According to the Department of Home Affairs, In 2018, Australian passports were issued to over 240 babies born via overseas surrogacy. The estimated breakdown of where those babies were born includes:
According to those figures, there are more babies born via international surrogacy than are born in Australia each year. There are a few reasons for this. Intended parents far outnumber the women willing to be surrogates in Australia. It is illegal to advertise for a surrogate in most parts of Australia, making it difficult for intended parents to get the word out. Many people still think surrogacy is illegal in Australia, adding to the stigma and misunderstanding about how it works. And, surrogacy in Australia is altruistic and I think it is easier to find a surrogate where compensated surrogacy is available than it is where we don’t get paid.
You can read about how to find a surrogate, or how to become a surrogate yourself. You can also download the free Surrogacy Handbook which explains the processes and options.
My own opinion on Australians pursuing international surrogacy is that it would be better for everyone – the surrogate and her family, the child and the intended parents – if it can be done here at home. We have access to excellent healthcare, a supportive legal framework and robust processes to ensure the wellbeing of everyone involved, and to protect the rights and welfare of the child and the surrogate. Rather than simply being critical of commercial surrogacy overseas, we need to encourage and support altruistic surrogacy within Australia where we can regulate it and take care of everyone.
You can read more about international surrogacy options and consider best practice surrogacy when choosing the right option for you and your family.
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.
Sarah has published a book, More Than Just a Baby: A Guide to Surrogacy for Intended Parents and Surrogates, the only guide to surrogacy in Australia.