Sunday, November 8, 2015

[Australia] "Same-sex parents fight for adoption equality and hope bill will pass Victorian Parliament" - The Age by Benjamin Preiss

Great to see two of the pioneers of Australian Gay Men doing Surrogacy, Lee Matthews and Tony Wood in the paper today.  An important story and hopefully a brighter future for LGBTI people and adoption in Victoria.

Tony Wood considers his family quite conventional, but their story has come to symbolise the push for new laws that could soon allow same-sex couples to adopt.

Their routine would be familiar to many other families. They balance the extracurricular activities of son Alexander, 12, and daughter Luci, 10, while Mr Wood and his partner, Lee Matthews, juggle work commitments.

But Mr Wood and Mr Matthews, who have been together for 26 years, have also pushed for families like theirs to be granted full recognition under the law. That could soon be achieved, with proposed same-sex adoption laws  having passed the State Parliament's lower house.

Local MP Martin Foley knocked on the door of the family's St Kilda home several years ago, and has followed their progress ever since.

Mr Foley, now Equality Minister in the Andrews government, says Mr Wood and Mr Matthews' situation helped to illustrate the "absurdity" of laws that do not allow same-sex adoption.
"When you see these kids grow up as part of your community in a stable, loving, respectful family and they tell you all the practical difficulties this nonsense throws in their path, you cannot help but be moved," he said.

The couple had their children with an American surrogate but only the biological father of each child is recognised as a parent under the law, even though they share responsibility for parenting.

That can lead to legal problems in areas such as providing consent for medical treatment.

"Legally that can be a fraught situation that can only be overcome by the type of reforms that we're talking about here, which can ensure that the parents who expect to have custody and care of children are actually given that," he said.

If same-sex adoption laws are passed it will mean both Mr Wood and Mr Matthews can be legally recognised as parents of both their children.

More than 10 years ago, the couple shared their challenges about surrogacy and adoption in a TV documentary and also an interview with The Age.

While there is cross-party consensus to allow same-sex couples to be jointly recognised as parents, the proposed laws have struck a hurdle in  Parliament's upper house.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy wants to ensure the laws retain exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies, which would allow them to refuse to provide services to gay couples. However, Labor wants that right scrapped.

CatholicCare is to date the only faith-based adoption agency that has voiced an objection to same-sex adoption.

Read more at The Age

Sunday, October 25, 2015

[Australia] Families Through Surrogacy - Australian Seminar Series [23-27 November 2015]

There are precious few seminars for those people considering surrogacy either in Australia or in an overseas jurisdiction.  Just announced is a series of seminars in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth from 23rd to 27th November 2015.

The series is being run by Families Through Surrogacy [link] and details about the seminar series follows:

"In the wake of the mess Australians have found themselves in using India, Thailand and Nepal, FTS is running a five city series of evening seminars 23 -27 November in Syd/Bris/Mel/Adel/Perth which will focus on surrogacy in countries which have legal frameworks protecting intended parents, surrogates and children. 

We are seeing a marked increase in gay and straight couples using domestic surrogacy, with the numbers almost doubling each year ( though still a minority overall) The key topics of this November seminar will be Australia, Canada and Ukraine, but there will also be updates provided on the current situation in the US (very good)/Mexico (difficult but improving)/ Nepal (a mess) and Cambodia (why not to engage)".

Find our more here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Gay Dads NSW Facebook Group

Did you know there is a great Gay Dads Facebook group in NSW?  So if you are a gay dad or a gay guy in New South Wales wanting to find out more about becoming a dad, you should visit the Gay Dads NSW Facebook group here.

Gay Dads South Australia

There is a great Gay Dads group in South Australia.  So if you are a gay dad or a gay guy in South Australia wanting to find out more about becoming a dad, you should visit the Gay Dads South Australia Facebook group here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

[US] Dove Men+Care Features Gay Dads In New Commercial

Great to see DOVE including gay men (albeit briefly) in their new commercial in the USA.  Enjoy.

UPDATE: Meet one of the gay dads in the Video @icolvin - Follow him on Twitter and send him a thank you for being visible!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

[Australia][South Austtralia] "Same-sex South Australian couples get on with life as nation grapples with laws for gay marriage" by Brad Crouchsunday

WHEN couple Mark and Matt eventually get married — and they are confident the time will come — the couple will have an adorable page boy and flower girl ready for the ceremony.

The Adelaide couple have been engaged for eight years and last year became fathers to Estelle and Tate, who are now 18 months.

Expectant parents say legalising same-sex marriage will combat homophobia
The children were born hours apart in a Bangkok hospital from donated eggs, each one fertilised by one of the men and carried by surrogate mothers.

The result is a modern, loving family taking close interest in the surging political developments around marriage equality sparked by the successful Irish referendum.

Labor will introduce a Bill legalising same sex marriages tomorrow while Coalition MP Warren Entsch is working towards a cross-party Bill.

A marriage equality rally in Sydney today is expected to draw thousands to hear speakers including Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s gay sister Christine Forster.

In November, the Sunday Mail’s Your State Your Say survey of revealed almost 64 per cent support for legalising same sex marriages.

But political issues in Mark’s and Matt’s busy household play second fiddle to games of chasey, cuddles and challenges facing any family as infants quickly grow to active toddlers. However, Mark believes legalising same sex marriage is an important symbolic step.

“We have already been engaged for eight years and already we are lucky enough to have our two wonderful children in our family,” he said.

“Marriage isn’t going to change our family but it is important, especially for people in newer relationships who want to demonstrate a commitment to each other and start their lives together.”

The couple had considered getting married overseas, or having a ceremony without legal recognition, but none of those options felt right. But they do plan to get married here once it is legal.

Matt said their long engagement, and now having children, meant they had already started their lives together regardless of a ceremony.

“Family life could not be better,” he said.

“When the laws in Australia do eventually change we will of course finally have the wedding we have dreamt of — but we have also had to get on with family life.

“We‘ve proved we are committed to each other and have been fortunate enough to be able to provide a loving and stable family for our two children to grow up in.

“We are not all that different from so many other families; the only difference is we are currently unable to marry.

“In some ways it will be strange if the laws change as getting married will be a celebration of the step we missed out on in our lives rather than the beginning of our lives together.”

While the issue is important to them, the couple noted on a day-to-day basis they are focused on their children — and that is another reason they hope for a change to the law.

“Marriage equality is very important to us for the sake of our children,” Matt said.

“I desperately want them to grow up in a world supportive of all families.

“I don’t want them to have to grow up and wonder why their parents can’t get married, I don’t want them to feel they are any less or that their family is any less than anyone else’s.”

The couple say attitudes to gay people have changed so much during their lifetimes it is now virtually a non-issue, with the vast majority of people simply accepting them to the point where they sometimes forget their family is considered non-traditional.

“I think the biggest cause of the change has simply been the fact that more and more people know a friend or family member who is gay,” Mark said.

“When it comes down to an actual relative or friend who wants to get married to someone they love, nobody could really say no to that.”

The couple have received support from strangers in supermarkets as well as family and friends — having two cute children in tow helps — but say they feel they are simply an ordinary family. Matt said: “I believe people can see how happy we are and how happy and contented our children are,” Matt said.

“I think harshly judging those that are different is starting to fade away over time and people have been absolutely wonderful and kind to us.

“This gives me a lot of hope for the future. I grew up lucky enough not to encounter any homophobia and the overwhelming support of the community has given me confidence Tate and Estelle will live a happy and fulfilled life without being judged for coming from a different family structure.

“I believe people are starting to realise that families like ours aren’t all that different from anyone else’s family.”

In a society where some children struggle to find love, Tate and Estelle are cherished by their unmarried male parents — plenty of games, reading, nourishment, care and hugs.

As a result They live in a house full of laughter and love as they learn to run, talk and learn about discover the world around them.

“You can never read a book to prepare you for parenting but the happiness our children bring to our lives is above and beyond anything I could have imagined,” Matt said.

“Their happiness and wellbeing is the number one most important thing to me in this world.”

And while the nappies and the feeding and the cleaning can be tiring, the couple believe love really can conquer all — even obstacles to same sex marriage.

“When it comes down to it and people actually see that the question about same sex marriage isn’t about politics but simply about two people who love each other wanting to get married, it is very hard to say no to that,” Mark said.

Expectant parents say legalising same-sex marriage will combat homophobia
Roxanne Wilson

Nat and Amy Broham are preparing to embark on the next big chapter in their lives together — parenthood.

Nat, 27, is 16 weeks pregnant with their first child through IVF and the Aberfoyle Park couple plan for Amy, 32, to carry the next baby — who will be conceived using the same sperm donor so their children are genetically linked.

“We know the love and beauty we have within our own relationship and family and to have the opportunity to bring a little person into that little circle ... regardless of the fact that we both happen to be female, our baby is going to be incredibly lucky to be born into such a loving and supportive unit,” Nat said.

Having a baby is a natural progression for the pair, who held a commitment ceremony in March 2013 at Middlebrook Estate, McLaren Vale.

“At the end of the day we didn’t know how long we would be waiting (for marriage equality) and it was really important we did it before children so we could show them those photographs,” Nat said. While they said the legality of their union doesn’t change their relationship — they won’t hold another wedding should same-sex marriage be legalised in Australia — they said giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples was an issue of equality.

“Outside of our relationship I really think it will help to combat homophobia,” Amy said. “Maybe that will challenge some people’s ideas around same-sex attraction; hopefully it is a step forward in accepting diversity.”

Nat added: “It would mean finally feeling equal to everybody else; that’s what it really comes down to.

“For us it is not cementing that commitment because we’re just as committed either way.

“It is about being acknowledged by the Government of the country we live in and are so proud of.”

The couple said the issue of marriage equality extended beyond their immediate relationship to their circle of family and friends. “It does hurt and it hurts our families,” Amy said.

Read More Here ($$)

[Australia] [Victoria] "Matthew Guy backs same-sex marriage, gay adoption, more compassion for refugees" by Farrah Tomazin

This  is indeed good news coming out of the conservative Liberals in Victoria in respect of the "adoption" reform legislation that is coming from the Labor government later this year.

State Liberal leader Matthew Guy is seeking to recast the Victorian Liberals as socially progressive on nationally contentious issues, including urging the Abbott government to allow same-sex marriage and vowing to support gay adoption.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Guy also said he would like Australia to take a more compassionate approach to asylum seekers and refugees, admitting he was concerned about children being held in detention centres.

Mr Guy said he wanted to modernise his parliamentary team with more women and people from non-English speaking backgrounds, and develop a platform that respected both the liberal and conservative strands on which the party was founded.

"I want to make sure that the Liberal Party is what its values ascribe it to be," Mr Guy said. "It is an amalgam of liberals and conservatives, it is a party that has very strong elements of both, and it should continue to have very strong elements of both."


In the wake of Ireland becoming the first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote, Mr Guy said it was "about time" Australia also allowed marriage equality, and that a conscience vote was needed to give his federal colleagues the freedom to vote as they saw fit.

"It is absolutely an inevitability that this country will move forward to allow same-sex couples to marry in the same way heterosexual couples do and I think that's a good thing," the 41-year-old said.

Continue Reading Here

[Nepal] - "Burden of surrogacy" by Gita Aravamudan

An interesting and challenging piece on "surrogacy" in Nepal.

The gay/single parent fertility business has shifted to Nepal. With no proper legislations in place, being a surrogate is not easy.

“These are the intended parents,” said the doctor. She was an impeccably dressed, youngish woman seated in front of a computer. On the screen was a picture of two men; one balding and slightly paunchy, the other younger and dressed in jeans.

“They are from Israel,” she said. “Their surrogate is a young Nepali girl. She is due next week. We’ll email them the moment the baby is born and they’ll come and collect it. They’ll get the formalities done, pick up their exit visa and leave. And yes, the baby will be an Israeli citizen. There is no problem about that.”

So simple!  Most of the “transaction” had been done over email and Skype. The men had come down just once, carrying the frozen embryo. That’s when they met their surrogate for the first and last time and signed the contract. They had been in constant touch with the clinic, but never interacted with the surrogate again because obviously they could not communicate with her. And maybe they didn’t want to.

This was in 2011 and I was researching for my book Baby Makers: The Story of Indian Surrogacy. I was at this upmarket clinic in Mumbai because I knew it was a preferred destination for gay couples from all over the world who wanted to have babies through surrogacy.

That day I learnt a lot. I learnt for instance that some countries like Israel ban same-sex couples from hiring surrogates in their own country, but recognise children born through surrogacy in other countries. I also learnt that the sperm could come from one country, the eggs from another, the IVF could be done elsewhere and the frozen embryo could be shifted across continents to be implanted in surrogates in India.

And why India? Because India was cheap, the medical facilities were very good and clinics like the one I was sitting in had a large supply of young, healthy surrogates on call. More importantly, in India, there was no law and the entire fertility business was only regulated by the guidelines passed by the Medical Council. And these guidelines had nothing to say about same-sex parents.

Continue Reading Here

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

[AU] "Changes proposed by Surrogacy Australia would make paying for arrangement illegal" by Sally Brooks

An interesting story just posted to the ABC Australia website by Sally Brooks on surrogacy in the Northern Territory.  It is a Territory that we don't hear about often and this piece includes some comment from Sam Everingham.

A group supporting surrogate families says the Northern Territory Government should outlaw commercial surrogacy, but make it legal for a woman to be paid compensation to carry a child.

Surrogacy Australia will send a draft bill to Attorney-General John Elferink, which, if legislated, would bring the Territory's laws into line with other states.

The NT is the only jurisdiction in Australia without surrogacy legislation.

This means commercial and altruistic surrogacy is technically allowed in the NT, although medical professionals are regulated by Commonwealth ethical guidelines which ban assisting people with commercial surrogacy.

Paying a woman to carry someone else's child is prohibited in every other jurisdiction, but altruistic surrogacy is allowed and regulated.

Surrogacy Australia founder Sam Everingham said there are key differences between paying a woman compensation to carry a child and allowing commercial surrogacy.

Under commercial models, surrogates must surrender the child post birth, he said.

"In Australia, under an altruistic model, the surrogate is allowed to change her mind, although that hardly ever happens, but that's one of the positions of an altruistic model," he said.

"The UK is a good example it has an altruistic model that Australia has, but it does allow compensation of surrogates to a capped amount."

Continue Reading at ABC News.

[AU] Let's Help Lee and Sandra Get Married (in NZ!) and Honeymoon before it is too late!

A GoFundMe campaign I am right behind is the one started by Australian Marriage Equality to help an lesbian couple from Tasmania get married before one of them, who has a terminal condition, passes.  Of course, we'd love it if they could do it in Australia but alas we are still in the dinosaur age here.  But New Zealand....oh...New Zealand.  Equality proudly exists in New Zealand.

Lets help Lee and Sandra get married, have a honeymoon and reception before it is too late.  Every dollar helps.  Spare a couple of cups of coffee and donate today.  It is good karma.

Lee and Sandra’s wedding is on!

In only two days people from all over the world have helped us reach the minimum we needed to book Sandra and Lee's flights to New Zealand and their accommodation.

They are over-joyed by the generosity of strangers and are so excited that their dream is coming true.

While Sandra and Lee are relieved they will be touching down in Rotorua very soon, we at Australian Marriage Equality want their marriage to be a truly memorable moment for them.

With Lee's health failing, their wedding in Rotorua will be their last adventure as a couple. We have a unique opportunity to make it special.

We have raised our target to $15,000. Your donation will go towards a small reception in New Zealand for Lee and Sandra and a short honeymoon for the happy couple.

Help us turn the injustice of this couple being forced to marry in another country into a beautiful, trans-Tasman celebration of love and commitment.

Donate Here...Now!

[US] "Johnston County Woman Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Hopeful Parents"

Another disturbing "surrogacy" case, this time from the United States, via ABC in the USA.

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WTVD) -- Jennifer Soronen pleaded guilty Tuesday to 11 counts of conversion by bailee, which is a type of fraud.

We first introduced you Soronen back in May of 2013 during an I-Team Troubleshooter investigation.

It was then a Fort Bragg couple came to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson after they hired Soronen and her company Baby Steps Egg Donation LLC, which had offices in Smithfield and Cary. The couple paid Sorenen more than $5,000 for an egg donor. That never happened and the couple wanted their money back. When we confronted Sorenen, she said it was all a misunderstanding and did refund the couple their $5,000.

However, there were more victims. Investigators say Soronen stole money from 11 couples who attempted to find surrogates through Soronen's company. In all, Soronen took more than $183,387.14 from the couples. We're told Soronen used the money for personal services including breast augmentation along with hair and nail treatments.

After pleading guilty, a judge sentenced Soronen to at least four years behind bars. She was also ordered her to pay $183,387.14 in restitution to her victims.

In court, Soronen did apologize for her actions.

Read More at ABC here.

[UK] "Surrogate mother launched hate campaign against baby's gay father" by John Bingham

This case illustrates the vital importance of written agreements and screened IPs and Surrogates. Good agencies are important to managing the surrogacy process - just as much as good intentions are.  This is not a DIY activity!!!

A “duplicitous and manipulative” mother who tricked a gay couple into an informal surrogacy arrangement so that she could get pregnant has been ordered to hand the toddler over to them.
In the first ruling of its kind in England and Wales, Ms Justice Russell ruled that the girl is “more likely than not to suffer harm” if she were brought up by her obsessive mother rather than by her father and his partner.

The court heard how the woman kept the 15-month-old girl with her 24 hours a day, sleeping in the same bed, being carried around in a sling, and breast-fed on demand day and night.

A judgment details how the woman, who cannot be identified, was considering continuing to breast-feed the girl – known as M - for “several years” to come.

Read More at The Telegraph.

Perth Free Seminar 18 May 2015 - IVF Options

Sydney Free Seminar 15 May 2015 - IVF Options

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

[USA] "Transgender Men Who Experienced Pregnancy After Female-to-Male Gender Transitioning" Obsetetrics & Gynecology

OBJECTIVE: To conduct a cross-sectional study of transgender men who had been pregnant and delivered after transitioning from female-to-male gender to help guide practice and further investigation.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We administered a web-based survey from March to December 2013 to inquire about demographics, hormone use, fertility, pregnancy experience, and birth outcomes. Participants were not required to have been on hormone therapy to be eligible. We used a mixed-methods approach to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative data.

RESULTS: Forty-one self-described transgender men completed the survey. Before pregnancy, 61% (n=25) had used testosterone. Mean age at conception was 28 years with a standard deviation of 6.8 years. Eighty-eight percent of oocytes (n=36) came from participants' own ovaries. Half of the participants received prenatal care from a physician and 78% delivered in a hospital. Qualitative themes included low levels of health care provider awareness and knowledge about the unique needs of pregnant transgender men as well as a desire for resources to support transgender men through their pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: Transgender men are achieving pregnancy after having socially, medically, or both transitioned. Themes from this study can be used to develop transgender-appropriate services and interventions that may improve the health and health care experiences of transgender men.

Available at Obstetrics & Gynecology