Building your family – where do you start?


Growing Families conference in Sydney next month
Image: Supplied

Sam Everingham talks with two parents Tim and JC who created their family through surrogacy. Each had experience with both local and international processes. They, along with six other gay dads will share much more of the ups and downs of the process at Growing Families Sydney Conference on June 22-23, 2024.

JC and his husband completed their first journey in Australia. In this environment, intended parents need to independently find a suitable egg donor, surrogate and coordinate with IVF clinics.

Navigating multiple aspects of the journey independently can be challenging and time-consuming. Domestically, the most challenging part is finding an egg donor and surrogate – pure luck plays a big role. But luck was on their side.

For domestic surrogacy, their newborn’s birth certificate listed their surrogate as the legal parent. It took six months and a court order, for a new birth certificate to be issued.

For JC’s second surrogacy journey – everyone seems to want a sibling – they chose Argentina, given it offers a more centralized and supported process through specialized agencies who manage all aspects of the journey, including identifying egg donors and surrogates, plus IVF clinic coordination.

Buenos Aires legal framework simplified things by directly placing the intended parents’ names on the first birth certificate. To JC (pictured below) this seemed ‘a more straightforward path’ than the Australian model.

JC will address Growing Families' Sydney conference this month

“In Australia,” JC reflects, “the process took us approximately two years from getting an egg donor up to the child’s birth whilst in Argentina it took us one year and three months from signing up with an agency up to the child’s birth.

“In Argentina the most challenging part was the long travel and no family support at the … birth.”

What advice would JC offer?

“Prioritise open and honest communication throughout …. Building a strong and trusting relationship with the agency or any parties involved is crucial for navigating the complexities and emotional challenges

“Also, you just need to trust the process and never forget to enjoy the journey.”

Tim and his husband Sasha

Tim and his husband Sasha (pictured above) started by joining Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service Two months after submitting their profile, their surrogate Lizzy came into their lives.

He triple-checked just to make sure it wasn’t a scam – everything happened so quickly. As a team, they attended the 2022 Growing Family Conference where they decided to work with an IVF doctor – from the US. Here they also selected a counsellor and surrogacy lawyer.

So how did Tim and his partner support their surrogate without an agency?

Tim discovered that their surrogate’s needs changed at various stages of the pregnancy. Her support needs were, he admits “even more complicated” in the months following birth.

“Sometimes, it might take you a few attempts to work out how to best support your surrogate,” he advises.

“Know that surrogates often don’t want to bother their intended parents and try to do as much as they can before asking for help. The goal is to avoid that and build a network for her to rely on.”

“There are times when IPs can’t physically be there to help, so make sure you can pay for help such as cleaning, takeaway food, childcare or transportation”.

“From first introduction to the birth…, our journey took less than two years. However, (a domestic) journey doesn’t end at childbirth. ….your surrogate will need you more than ever during the ‘fourth trimester’”. How long that lasts depends on your surrogate’s recovery.

For Tim, the most challenging part was seeing their surrogate in pain or distress due to pregnancy. “You often wish you can take the pain for her but you can’t.”

Advice Tim would give to those contemplating domestic surrogacy? “There are many ways of finding a surrogate. Social media, ASC Facebook group, family connections, friends, Surrogacy Australia. Pursue every one of them.

“Help sometimes comes from the most unexpected place.”

Growing Families’ Sydney Conference on June 22-23

Meet with Tim and JC as well as plenty of other parents, surrogates, donors, and local and international experts at Growing Families’ June conference in Sydney.

Teens brought up by gay dads will speak about their sense of self and disclosure. Surrogates and donors will speak about selecting recipients and support expectations.

For more information click this link.

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