THE last five years has seen a significant increase in gay Australian men creating families through surrogacy. Despite negative press surrounding a handful of surrogacy Once restricted to fairly expensive USA options, recent years have seen many working with surrogates in Australia, India, Thailand, and more recently Nepal and Mexico.
Last year, the Baby Gammy scandal shone the media spotlight on overseas surrogacy. Thai authorities were furious that compensated surrogacy had thrived under their watch, not just because it went against medical council guidelines but Thai cultural norms.
Families Through Surrogacy’s annual Australian conference on May 16-17 in Sydney will help scores of intended gay dads from around the country work through many of these changes. For the first time, there will be sessions from parents and providers regarding not only local options but the US, Nepal and Mexico.
Amongst the 32 sessions, highlights include practical, panels of surrogates on how to successfully match with a surrogate; talks from parents and older children born through surrogacy. This year will have increased focus on Australian & US options.
One gay Sydneysider talking, Clinton Bryan-Mathieson had always wanted a family. Clinton and his partner Callum are in their early thirties. For Clinton, the deal-breaker question when they started dating in 2010 was kids. He tackled it head on: “I want a family. Do you?” Callum had met someone pretty special and he was on the same page.
Clinton’s sister Rhiannon had been offering to carry for her brother since he was 20. By now she had three kids of her own and the offer was still there. However she had separated from her own husband 18 months earlier and was living near Melbourne. The boys were in Sydney.
To ensure legal parentage of their son or daughter, the boys knew they needed to go by the book. This meant investment in legal and psychological counselling for not only Rhiannon and themselves, but her ex-partner also. As well, they’d need to find an egg donor and stump up for Rhiannon’s IVF costs (surrogacy doesn’t attract a Medicare rebate). Even if successful first time, there would little change from $60,000.
Beyond cost, the biggest hurdle was locating an egg donor. They discovered a donor forum www.eggdonationaustralia.com.au, but donors need to pick you, not vice versa. After months of no success, they almost walked away, until a forum moderator explained how to engage in the forums so donors noticed them.
“You are meant to make your story as personal as possible” Clinton says.
“You need to engage in other people’s posts as well, so readers see your personality.”
To find out more and engage with parents, experts and surrogates, go to familiesthrusurrogacy.com/au Weekend passes are $185 each, including lunches and evening drinks.