Janet and Lee Giddings have pursued their dream of parenthood since 2012, attempting surrogacy in, not only Australia, but three other nations.
In 2014 they applied for a visa for surrogacy in India, selecting an Indian egg donor in Mumbai. When India closed, they refocused efforts on Nepal and then ultimately Ukraine. Their son was finally born in Kiev in May 2017. It was a long-awaited dream finally realised and a testament to their persistence in the face of obstacles
Australians appear to be the third-highest user nation of cross-border surrogacy globally. While more Australians are attempting domestic surrogacy, success rates remain poor, with only about 50 births per year.
New data from Families Through Surrogacy — based on an audit of 32 surrogacy providers in 10 countries globally — illustrates some startling realities behind how Australians are accessing cross-border surrogacy.
In the two years 2016-2017, foreigners accessed surrogacy in the US, Canada, Greece, Kenya, Thailand, Ukraine, Russia, Mexico and Georgia.
- Israel, China and Australia appear to be the largest user markets of international surrogacy
- An estimated 10,000 singles and couples from more than 91 nations engage in agency-facilitated surrogacy globally each year of which more than 750 are Australian singles and couples
- The majority of Australians engaging offshore are doing so in Canada, the US, Ukraine and surprisingly Thailand/Laos (given Thailand banned surrogacy for foreigners during 2015)
The continued popularity of Laos/Thailand is despite operators now charging Australians double the costs of four years earlier. This backdoor route to family formation is far from ideal, but it shows how hard this area is to regulate and the urgent need to facilitate better access to surrogacy in Australia.
Surrogacy Australia has been lobbying government for many years on this issue and, tired of inaction, is about to launch a national support service for altruistic surrogacy.
The service will address the growing need for professional support of surrogates and intended parents.
A recent Australian study of 30 altruistic surrogates, who carried for singles and couples they had not known previously, showed that many found these journeys tough. Even basic needs such as getting expenses re-imbursed and transparent communication were often difficult. Surrogacy Australia’s support service will facilitate better education, screening and matching of both surrogates and intended parents.
Support Manager Anna McKie says, “In line with best practice, our aim will be to screen not only potential surrogates but intended parents also. It’s an approach that protects surrogates and is designed to enhance the quality of relationships.”
At Families Through Surrogacy’s upcoming November seminar series in six Australian cities, the details of this new service will be outlined. As well, 20 heterosexual and gay parents will share their experiences of surrogacy in Australia, US, Canada, Ukraine and even Greece.
Susan Gambale is one of six surrogates who will also share their stories. A mum to three grown children, Susan wanted to help a couple who couldn’t carry their own children. Two years ago she joined the Australian Surrogacy Community Facebook group and put herself out there as a surrogate looking to match. Fourteen months later, after one transfer, a baby boy was born and a new family was created. Apart from having and raising her own children, this was by far the biggest and toughest thing Susan has ever done, but despite that, it’s a journey she looks forward to taking again in 2019 with another set of intended parents.
If you or friend can’t carry your own child or has experienced recurrent unexplained implantation failure or miscarriage, surrogacy may be the next step.
Families Through Surrogacy is a consumer-based, non-profit organisation focused on research and education. Their Australian Seminar Series for intended parents and surrogates covering Australian and overseas surrogacy will take in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney between 13-20th November. Full details: www.familiesthrusurrogacy.com/australian-seminar-series-nov-2018/