Tuesday, October 14, 2014

[AU] Victoria - VARTA Published "Surrogacy Arrangement Legal Checklist"

VARTA is the Victorian Assisted Reproduction Technology Authority and provides an excellent resource for those people considering doing altruistic surrogacy in Victoria.  

They have recently published their "Surrogacy Arrangement Legal Checklist" on their website.  Also available is a range of other very useful information such as "Finding a Surrogate" in Australia brochure.

Find out more at VARTA

[Canada] That Wonderful "Cheerios" Commercial!

Recently, the cereal company Cheerios released a commercial featuring two gay dads and their adopted daughter.  It is simple, touching and powerful.  It speaks for it sell as you can see from below:

However, there are some people who have objection to it - and we are not talking your usual suspects here (the religious crazies!).  Frank Ligtvoet has published an interesting (if non-sensical) piece in the HuffPost about the commercial.  The comments, which I normally suggest one should not read, are worth while in this case.

A Canadian Cheerios commercial has been making the Internet rounds these last few days before hitting TV channels this week. You see two good-looking, white, 30-something gay men talking. A toddler, a black girl, climbs from one guy to the other: They are her dads. The men speak English with endearing French accents, and they talk about their life together and the adoption of their daughter.....

Continue Reading this at HuffPost

Saturday, October 11, 2014

[France] "French Gov’t Affirms Its Prohibition of Gestational Surrogacy" by Laurent Gey

Some less happy news from France however....

PARIS–The French “La Manif pour tous” (Protest for All) movement has gathered 100,000 participants in Paris and Bordeaux on 6 October 2014. This movement, established in 2012, shows the face of a traditional France attaching great importance to the family.  The people often don’t recognize themselves in the proposals of the government.  Last week, Prime Minister Manuel Valls wanted to reassure, and affirmed to be opposed to gestational surrogacy, a practice of “commercializing human beings and merchandising the female bodies”, something intolerable, according to his own words. France also plans a global initiative to get a ruling among the states.

If you can be bothered, read more here.

[AU] "Modern Family Joy for Louise Pratt" by Andrew Probyn

It is always great to welcome new bubs to Rainbow Families, but this news is especially wonderful.  Baby Jasper Benjamin Pratt was born to former WA Labor Senator Louise Pratt and her partner Aram Hosie.  There are co-parents as well and they are State Labor MLC Stephen Dawson and his partner Dennis Liddelow. 

Indeed - this is a truly modern Rainbow Family.  So many congratulations to the new parents and co-parents.  

If you want to contact Louise or Aram to send your congratulations - their twitter handles are Louise (@Louise_Pratt) and Aram (@perissology).

Jasper Benjamin Pratt is practically the definition of the modern family.

The beautiful boy was born 10 days ago to former Labor senator Louise Pratt.

What makes Jasper extra special is that he is quadruply lucky.

Conceived by IVF technology, he entered the world to the loving embrace of one mother and three fathers.

His mum's transgender partner Aram Hosie is Jasper's live-in dad. But he also has two co- parents, State Labor MLC Stephen Dawson and his partner Dennis Liddelow. One of them is Jasper's biological dad.

Ms Pratt said Jasper was born on October 1 at 4.45pm in a planned home birth that was overseen by a midwife.

Born 2.5kg, Jasper is eating and sleeping well, putting on weight with gusto. With so many willing helpers, Ms Pratt said she was in awe of single parents.

"Our family is just one variation of the many types of families that exist - in our case Jasper has the love and daily care of all four of us," she told _The Weekend West _. "In many ways it's a similar situation to children whose biological parents separate and re-partner but who continue to co-parent together.

"Jasper will have no shortage of attention as he grows.

"In the meantime as a new mum coping with regularly feeding a hungry newborn I am appreciative of the support I'm getting from three other very attentive adults."

A long-time champion of gay rights, Ms Pratt's Federal political career ended when Labor failed to win a second seat at the repeat WA Senate election in April.

Jasper's co-parents, Mr Dawson and Mr Liddelow, made history last year by becoming the first same-sex couple to marry in Australia, taking advantage of ACT's same-sex marriage laws. The legality of their marriage was short-lived because the High Court struck down the ACT laws a few days later.

Read More here.

[AU] "Commercial surrogacy in Australia: rethinking notions of ‘natural’" by Dr Damien Riggs

A very interesting and thought provoking piece by Damien Riggs, who is Associate Professor in Social and Policy Studies, Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Flinders University

Often emphasised in discussions about children’s best interests is the idea that certain ways of having and raising children are “natural”. For example, this word appears frequently in reference to how children are conceived (with heterosexual intercourse often referred to as “natural reproduction”). It also appears in reference to how children are raised (e.g. it is typically seen as “natural” for a child to have a mother and a father).

Views on what is “natural” have had a predictable airing in public debate over commercial surrogacy as a result of two recent cases of babies being abandoned by intended parents first in Thailand and now in India. Legislating for commercial surrogacy in Australia would help avoid this type of outcome. One barrier to the implementation of such legislation, however, is the view that commercial surrogacy is “unnatural”.

Continue Reading at The Conversation

[UK] "High court put justice before statutory requirements in surrogacy case" by Joshua Rozenberg

Judges will seek to apply the law faithfully as laid down by parliament, the deputy president of the supreme court told me this week. Lady Hale, who was responding to my “what if?” question about the Human Rights Act for a special anniversary edition of BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action to be broadcast next week, was saying no more than any judge would. But what happens when a judge comes across a statutory requirement that would lead to an injustice? Can it simply be ignored?

The issue came up in a case decided last week. It was brought by a couple who wanted a surrogate child, presumably because they were unable to have one of their own. We know little about them except that they began legal proceedings in Birmingham.

In 2011, the Birmingham couple made a surrogacy agreement with a married couple in India. The Indian surrogate mother conceived using eggs donated by a third party and sperm from the Birmingham father.

A child was born in December 2011, the surrogate parents confirmed that they wanted to give up their parental rights and responsibilities, and the Birmingham couple brought the child to the UK on a British passport last year. He is well cared for and much loved.

Continue Reading at The Guardian

[AU] "The rights of children must come first in international surrogacy" by Helen Freris

Now the opinion blog site "Online Opinion" is normally known for right wing crazy opinion pieces the sort of which I would never bother mentioning.  However, there is an interesting and timely piece by Helen Freris published this week called "The rights of children must come first in international surrogacy".

Helen Freris is the National Services Manager of International Social Service Australia. She is a qualified social worker and accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. She practices in the areas of cross-border family separation, international child welfare and post-adoption tracing and reunification. 

The recent case of Baby Gammy has drawn attention to the ethical pitfalls posed by international surrogacy. Significant among these is the need to refocus discussion of the issue towards the rights and best interests of children.

Few reliable statistics exist, but it is generally agreed that the number of children born through surrogacy is increasing, due to greater acceptance of assisted reproductive technology and a drop in the number of children available for adoption.

Unlike international adoption, which is highly regulated in Australia, and whose goal is to provide a family for children unable to be cared for in their own country, international surrogacy operates for the most part in a nebulous legal landscape. Offshore surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics have been established as profit-making ventures for the sole purpose of supplying children to involuntarily childless couples and individuals.

We need to focus squarely on the rights of children born through surrogacy arrangements, because they are not only longed for by their commissioning parents, but also individuals in their own right, members of our society with inherent rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The CRC provides that, among other rights, children have the right to grow up in a family and to know and preserve their identity and their relationships with their family of origin. The CRC also upholds children's entitlement to safety and security and to physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing.

Continue Reading at Online Opinion

[AU] Out in the Open Festival - Shepparton, Victoria - 14-16 November 2014

One of Regional Australia's most prominent and tireless equality campaigners is Damien Stevens in Shepparton, Victoria.  Damien has let us know of the "Out in the Open" Festival happening in Shepparton on 14-16th November 2014 and some events that are Rainbow Family related.

There is the  OUTintheOPEN Festival Shepparton's colouring competition and they would love to receive some entries via post.  Come kids get creative!

The Carnival Day is very family friendly and it is held in  Shepparton on Saturday 15th November 2014:

" We've aimed to make Carnival Day very family friendly! The day will start with a 10am book reading @ the GV Library - titles including "Mommy, Mama & Me", "Daddy, Papa & Me" & "Who's In A Family?"."

A rarity these days, but  Carnival Day is FREE, and has space for rainbow families to set out picnic rugs, and jump on the jumping castle. Lots of stalls, food, performers, and more fun than you can poke a stick it will be on offer from 10.30am - 4.00pm!

There is simply no reason not to attend.  Apart from having a great time with the family you will also be helping and supporting our regional GLBTI family and friends.  Shep is only a couple of hours up the freeway from Melbourne and there is plenty of great accommodation in town to suit every budget.

Find out more about the festival here.

[US] "A Gay Dad’s Quest to Breast Feed His Son" by Gavin Lodge

I wonder how many of us Gay dads have asked themselves the same questions?

A new gay dad wants to provide the best milk, breast milk, to his kid, but lacks the biological plumbing to do so. Here is the story of his quest. 

During our pregnancy with Big E, I researched breast milk sources. Doctor friends told us it would be the greatest gift we could give our newborn.

 We were lucky that a friend had twenty pounds of frozen milk in Denver just after Big E was born in Colorado Springs. We packed it on dry ice and overnighted it to New York for $100. 

There had to be another way. 

I’d already learned that milk banks weren’t the way. For starters, I figured there was a milk bank in every major city in the country. There are fifteen. For us, a place in Massachusetts would have shipped 4 oz of milk at $7/ounce plus shipping. Worse, milk banks pasteurize. They kill all bacteria (which is good for the baby’s immune system). Plus, they refuse donations from moms with colds or any benign sickness. But sick mom milk is the best kind for growing babies — full of antibodies. 

There had to be another way.

Continue Reading at the Good Men Project

[UK] "New rights for fathers and same-sex partners" by Stowe Family Law LLP

Great to see progress in this area being made around the world!

Expectant fathers and same-sex partners of pregnant women now have the right to take time off for antenatal appointments, the government has announced.

This right also extends to long-term partners of the mother even if they are not married, or the intended parents of the child in a surrogacy agreement. They have the right to two appointments and can take up to six and a half hours for each. Employers are able to offer more time if they choose.

If the woman’s husband is not the father, both the husband and the father will each be allowed to take time off for two appointments. Additionally, if a man is expecting children with more than one woman, he will be allowed to take time off for each child. However, the government says that they “do not expect this to happen very often”.

Continue Reading at Stowe Family Law LLP

[US] "Mark and Victor's Story From The Let Love Define Family Series" HuffPost

An excellent piece in the Huff Post

Mark Martinez, Jr., 32, and Victor M. Palacios, Jr., 29, of San Jose, Calif. are foster parents looking to adopt. Working with EMQ Families First in Campbell, California, the couple has fostered two sibling sets in short-term placements, and currently has their third placement.

“Our main objective is to adopt,” explained Mark, “but at the moment we are very open to doing ongoing foster care as a concurrent home until we have a child that we are able to adopt. So while we’re waiting for a match we look at helping other kids who need a home.”

In foster care today, reunification of children with their birth family is the number one goal. “Concurrent” means that a process is initiated by whereby the child is prepared simultaneously to reunify with the birth family and, if that doesn’t occur, to be adopted in their current foster placement.

Read More at Huff Post

Thursday, October 9, 2014

[Australia] "Australian couple abandons surrogate baby in India" by Eryk Bagshaw

Perhaps it is not surprising that as the surrogacy practice expanded around the world that more cases like this would arise.  It is appalling and disgusting behaviour by the intended parents and should serve as a warning to all intending parents to act ethically at all times during the surrogacy process.  

Each time something like this happens, the likelihood of a shut down of overseas surrogacy as an option for Australian intended parents increases.  A few unethical IPs are to blame. 

If you are looking for some handy starting ethical guidelines for doing surrogacy you can't go past Ryan J's comments in a recent surrogacy court case.  See here.

An Australian couple has abandoned a surrogate baby in India, despite Australian consular officials pleading with the couple not to leave without the child. 

Fairfax Media understands a baby boy was left behind while his parents returned to Australia. 
On Wednesday night, an ABC investigation revealed that a surrogate mother gave birth to twins in India in 2012. 

"They already had one sex and they didn't want the other child," Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant told the ABC.

Chief Justice Bryant said the Australian High Commission in New Delhi delayed giving the Australian parents a visa to try and convince them to take both children home. 

The ABC investigation suggested that pressure had been applied to the High Commission to grant the visas by a senior political figure. 

"Yes, there definitely was some pressure being placed to expedite the process to ensure they could return to Australia," said Chief Justice Bryant.

Bob Carr, who was foreign minister at the time, denies ever receiving any correspondence regarding a surrogacy issue in India. 

"I don't recall surrogacy coming up in terms of our ... the bi-lateral relationship between Australia and India, and I did not contact the Australian High Commission," he told the ABC.

Consular officials told Chief Justice Bryant that they were concerned money had exchanged hands. 
"If that's true, that's basically trafficking children," she said, 

Chief Judge John Pascoe has called for a national inquiry into surrogacy.

"I am really concerned that this issue has not received the attention it properly deserves," he said.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she would be concerned if the life of a child was put at risk. 

"Presumably the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade could go back through its records but I'm not able to access the former activities and advice of the previous government," she said. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for comment. 

Read more SMH

Thursday, October 2, 2014

[Australia] "It's Time to Adopt Change" by Dr Simon Crouch

Friends and members of Gay Dads of Australia and Rainbow Families Council will be very familiar with Dr Simon Crouch's work on the health and well being of children from same-sex attracted parents (ACHESS). He is an amazing advocate for our families and he doesn't stop in speaking up for us.

Simon has just written a piece called "It's Time to Adopt Change" in respect of Adoption Rights for GLBTI people in Victoria in light of the fast approaching State election.

Please read and share this piece widely with family, friends and importantly your local member of parliament.

Bubbling along below the surface of this state election is an issue that is of major importance for some Victorian families. While it won’t determine the outcome of many seats, it speaks volumes about the social conscience of Victoria’s politicians, who have yet to join the growing list of states and territories that have legalised the adoption of children by gay and lesbian parents.

It is already legal in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, and many Victorians might be surprised to learn that same-sex couples cannot adopt here in the Garden State. In rare circumstances, a same-sex-attracted single person can adopt a child who is already known to him or her, but many same-sex couples raising children in long-term foster arrangements, as well as same-sex step-parents, are in a precarious position. Their children, many of whom have only ever known a secure family environment with their same-sex parents, live with chronic uncertainty over what might become of them and their siblings if anything were to happen to their parents.

Continue Reading at Election Watch

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

[Thailand] "Surrogacy in Thailand: What option do gay dads have now?" - Nicholes Family Lawyers

Our friends at Nicholes Family Lawyers have recently posted a piece on surrogacy in Thailand and what options there are now for gay men in Australia.

With adoption waiting periods averaging 7 years or more and domestic surrogacy options being extremely limited, international commercial surrogacy arrangements are one of a few options available to gay dads to start a family.

Following the Surrogacy Law reforms in India, Thailand experienced a significant increase in the number of gay dads entering into commercial surrogacy arrangements in their country. However following the public outcry caused by the controversy surrounding baby Gammy, the Thai baby born through a surrogacy arrangement and allegedly abandoned post birth, the Thai Military government announced a crackdown on the Thai Surrogacy industry, including but not limited to precluding gay parents from engaging in commercial surrogacy.

Continue reading at Nicholes Family Lawyers.

Friday, September 26, 2014

[Australia] 2SER Interview Regarding Surrogacy and Gay Men with Rodney Chiang-Cruise

For some young couples making a baby can be extremely difficult, but for those who can't, finding someone to make one for you is another matter entirely.

Recent controversy around overseas commercial surrogacy has caused the Thai government to ban the practice for everyone other than relatives of the birth mother. And back in Australia, state surrogacy laws are confusing and outdated. So the situation is particularly dire for same-sex couples who have few other options to start their own families.

Rodney Chiang-Cruise, the co-moderator of Gay Dads Australia spoke to Mitch about the issues faced by same-sex couples searching for a child of their own

Listen Online Here