Saturday, March 1, 2008

DNA Magazine - "Immediate Family" by Robbie Fells

Surrogacy is one option towards fatherhood for gay couples, but finding the right mum can be complicated.

I refer to our surrogacy journey as finding two angels. The first was our surro-mum, the second was our baby, who was born last October.

I still remember our first phone hook-up. We were in Melbourne, our surro-mum was in Ohio. We were extremely excited and had prepared our questions thoroughly. The biggest question was whether this woman would give us our baby after the delivery. I’d seen the Glenn Close film [Immediate Family] where the surrogate couldn’t give up the child and the heartache it caused. We did not want to go through this.

Picking your surrogate or being matched with the right surrogate is crucial. We were lucky, but, somewhere in my heart, I couldn’t help but wonder whether she was really going to give up this being who had grown inside of her for nine months. Gay or not, when you go through this process you can’t help but wonder whether or not you’ll get your child.

We paid a hefty price to find our surrogate, going through one of a few agencies in the US that specialise in surrogacy for gay men and women – and they are expensive middlemen. Without them, however, we would not have met our surro-mum. Whether we needed to spend an extra $60,000 or so for this privilege, I’m not sure. However, for anyone that is at the start of his or her surrogacy journey, the fear that you may not get your child at the end makes you willing to pay anything for some guarantee.

The process is lengthy and requires a lot of stamina with paperwork, legal hurdles, agency hiccups, the surrogate and the egg-donor. You have to get two women’s reproductive cycles to line up, the right amount of embryos created and the right conditions for pregnancy. Then, if you get pregnant, you must have the right conditions to keep the pregnancy. And that’s just step A.

Beyond Step A, you must organise the necessary insurance, accommodation, flights, hospitals, mountains of legal work and administration with the agency. The agency makes the process easier but, like anything in life, it helps to know a little about what you are signing up for. Knowing what I know now about surrogacy, I reckon we could have had three kids for the price we spent on our first! Your biggest hurdle is finding your surrogate. The rest is easy by comparison. If you can trust the surro-mum then 90 per cent of the work is done.

It’s almost three years since that wonderful hook-up and we’ve had one child and hope to have another sometime this year. Our surrogate is not just a surrogate. She is the mother of our second child and we regularly meet up and will hopefully continue to do so in the future. We hope to see each other at least once a year face-to-face. We talk over the phone and email each other regularly. She is an amazing woman who breastfed, loved and cared for our child then gave him to us. She was upset at letting him go in the beginning so she came to Australia a few weeks after we left. We also flew her and her family to Australia during the pregnancy. Her family is an extension of our family. Her kids will spend time with us in the future and our children will spend time with her family. Our family is a little unusual but I suppose this whole process is, too.

Last November my partner and I secured parenting orders by consent, which recognises us both as legal parents of our son, regardless of his biological beginnings. This was a landmark decision in Australia and an extremely positive sign for gay parents everywhere.

[Link: Original Article]

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