I’ve been involved in surrogacy research and education for over six years and am lucky to have met hundreds of parents, surrogates and professionals throughout Australia, the US, Greece and even Ukraine.
Here are my key tips for those contemplating surrogacy as a route to parenthood.
11 tips for those contemplating surrogacy
1. The Australian IVF sector is privatised and profit driven. They will not discourage you from investing in repeated IVF rounds, even when success rates start to decline sharply after the age of 34 years for a woman using her own eggs. If you’ve invested in more than three unsuccessful embryo transfers using your own eggs, your chances of later success are very low. You should be looking at donor eggs and/or surrogacy if you are serious about family building
2. Altruistic Surrogacy is legal in all Australian states and territories bar Northern Territory, and a new birth certificate is issued with the commissioning parents listed as the legal parents.
3. Don’t lose sleep about surrogates deciding to keep your child. Of the 200 or so documented domestic surrogacy cases, not one surrogate has retained custody.
4. Given the lack of surrogates in Australia, always consider overseas surrogacy as an option. More than 2000 Australian families have had success with overseas surrogacy, whether paid or altruistic.
5. If enrolling in an overseas program, risks are greatly reduced if you choose a jurisdiction where the laws recognise and facilitate surrogacy for foreigners. Such destinations include parts of the US, Canada, Ukraine, Greece & Georgia.
6. If you require an egg donor, seriously consider asking a younger girlfriend or selecting a ‘known’ donor, as research shows over half of donor-conceived children want to meet their donor in later life.
7. Wherever you engage, ensure your surrogate has been professionally assessed as emotionally and psychologically suitable. This should involve psychological screening.
8. Surrogates and parents refer to their arrangements as ‘journeys’ because there are always humps, turns and twists along the way. You need determination, resolve & patience to reach your goal of family. You are not likely to have success the first time.
9. Well-screened surrogates in Australia, the US and Canada tend to be motivated by a healthy mix of altruism and narcissism – they have an ability few women have. Make a fuss of them!
10. Never hide your child’s means of creation from them. Research shows that disclosing early and honestly makes for well-adjusted children.
11. Surrogacy is a highly complex area with many moving parts. Talk to as many other parents via surrogacy and surrogates as possible to ensure you avoid the common pitfalls that can cost you money and time.
Families Through Surrogacy’s annual conference for intended parents is on 3-4 June in Melbourne. Eighteen parents and surrogates will share their stories, as well as older children born via surrogacy. Weekend passes start from $120 per person. Full information is at familiesthrusurrogacy.com/australia