Tuesday, November 6, 2012

[Australia] - GNN - Rainbow Families: Surrogacy - Andrew Shaw

A wonderful story by Andrew Shaw on the Gay News Network (GNN) about a young gay male parented family, Michael, Jared, Elijah and Huxley with a neat summary of surrogacy laws state by state.
More same-sex couples are raising children than ever before. In a special ongoing series, we look at how gays and lesbian are starting families. Here, Michael and Jared share their surrogacy journey with Andrew Shaw, a story that ends with the birth of their twins, Elijah and Huxley.
Michael, 31, and Jared, 29, are the fathers of Elijah and Huxley, fraternal twins who have just turned one. The Brisbane couple have been together eight-and-a-half years and decided to have children in 2008. Jared worked in real estate before becoming a stay-at-home dad. Michael, a public servant, says having kids has always been something they’ve thought about.
“We’d been a couple for about four-and-a-half years and we’d always spoken of it, but we were never on the same page at the same time,” Michael says. “Then we were lying in bed one night and Jared said, ‘Do you want to have kids?’ And I went, ‘Yeah, I do’. It had got to the point where technology had caught up and it was easier and a little bit cheaper and we both felt strongly about it.”

The pair began searching for a surrogate on the internet. Like any couple ‘trying’ for a baby, they wanted to surprise their families with good news so they told only a few friends. Commercial surrogacy – paying a woman to carry your child – is illegal in Queensland, so the well-regulated overseas surrogacy market seemed a good start. They found a woman in Nevada and established contact. The laws in that state offer good protection for both the surrogate and the fathers. “So we set up an escrow account, set up appointments, passports,” remembers Michael.
Then the woman’s fertility report came back: she had only a 3 per cent chance of becoming pregnant. “Considering the significant emotional and financial impact of continuing on this path, we decided that it would be best to seek out alternatives, possibly closer to home,” Michael says. “It was devastating for her, too – she didn’t know.”
Turning to Australia, they found a woman in rural New South Wales. “We tried the old turkey baster method,” Michael says. “Then we decided it would be best for her to come to Brisbane every month and stay with us for about a week to make sure we covered the whole fertile period of her cycle. We did that for six to eight months.”
But a health check revealed the woman had an undiagnosed medical condition and the arrangement was abandoned after 12 months’ effort.
The two men were on the verge of giving up, exhausted and stressed. “Because we had to keep happy faces for our families, we didn’t want them to know what we were doing,” Michael says. “There weren’t many people on whom we could lean.”
When all seemed lost, the mother of their children turned out to be living in the next suburb. “Through friends of a friend we found Rachel, who lived 15 minutes away. She had been a surrogate before; she had assisted the previous Labor Government in drafting legislation for the Surrogacy Act; she’d donated eggs before. It was everything it should be – everything aligned. We first contacted her on a Friday night and we were having lunch with her and her daughters on Sunday. She then invited us to meet her husband Sunday night for dinner and it all started from there.”
Because altruistic (non-paid) surrogacy is legal but strictly regulated in Queensland, Michael and Jared paid for all out-of-pocket pregnancy-related expenses associated with Rachel’s pregnancy, but no other payment was made.
Some couples insist that a surrogate play no part in the child’s life, but Michael and Jared wanted to include Rachel in the boys’ lives from the start. They hope the boys will visit their other family and have an ongoing relationship with their half-siblings. Michael explains: “There’s no point lying to the kids, they’re going to work out that two dads didn’t make them. They’ll call her Rachel. They’ll know she is their biological mother and she carried them, but they are not her children. Even when she was carrying them she said, ‘These aren’t my kids. You planned for them, you’re going to be looking after them. I’m the vessel for you to start your journey to parenthood.’
“They will know, more so than other kids, that we wanted them; we had to fight for them and do so much work. This wasn’t an accident, this was most definitely worked for and planned and desired and I hope they always know that, and that Rachel’s always there for them.”
And the family reaction? “When we told them they were just so happy for us,” Michael recalls. “My mum cried for three hours.”
[Image] Michael with Elijah and Jared with Huxley. Photo supplied


Altruistic surrogacy is legal, but heavily regulated, in all states and territories except NT.
Legislation: Surrogacy Act 2010
Status: Commercial surrogacy banned anywhere in the world since 1988.
New South Wales
Legislation: Surrogacy Act 2010
Status: Commercial surrogacy banned anywhere in the world for those who reside in or are domiciled in NSW and who have not entered into a surrogacy contract as at March 1, 2011.
Australian Capital Territory
Legislation: Parentage Act 2004
Status: Commercial surrogacy banned anywhere in the world.
Legislation: Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008
Status: Commercial surrogacy banned only in Victoria. It does not ban Victorians from accessing overseas commercial surrogacy clinics.

Legislation: Surrogacy Contract Acts 1993
Status: Commercial surrogacy banned only in Tasmania. The Act does not ban Tasmanians from accessing overseas commercial surrogacy clinics.
South Australia
Legislation: Family Relationships Act 1975
Status: Commercial surrogacy banned only in South Australia.
Western Australia
Legislation: Surrogacy Act 2008
Status: Commercial surrogacy banned only in WA. However, WA regulator threatened with prosecution those mentioning overseas commercial surrogacy clinics.
Northern Territory
Status: Commercial surrogacy legal (but non-existent), it is legal for Territorians to access overseas commercial surrogacy clinics.
Surrogacy information in detail: www.surrogacyaustralia.org
[Source: Original Article]

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