In the lead up to Growing Families Annual Donor and Surrogacy Conference in Brisbane on 19/20 June, Sam Everingham reflects on the changes in who chooses to parent and how they go about it.
When my husband and I were going through the surrogacy process over ten years ago, nearly everyone ventured offshore to locate a donor and surrogate. These days a lot more are working with an Australian donor and sometimes even an Australian surrogate.
Nonetheless, because Australian surrogates cannot be compensated and are usually unable to receive the level of support that professionals overseas can offer, the Australian route can be a tough road to navigate for all parties.
Nowadays thanks to organisations like Growing Families, there is a lot more support available for those considering surrogacy. While Covid-related travel restrictions have slowed down processes, a surprising number of singles and couples have, with our help, found ways to move ahead.
For many it has meant shipping sperm interstate or offshore rather than travelling themselves. While the processes and paperwork involved require patience, when it comes to building family, determination is one quality you must have.
Determination is an even more important quality for single intended parents. It was ten years ago I first began meeting guys who were choosing surrogacy as a route to solo parenthood. I now see more and more coming to me each year for advice. That group increasingly includes single women.
Bruce Walmsley is one single professional I first met at one of our events three years ago. A psychologist who practices in Melbourne, Bruce had always wanted to be a dad . Yet he was in his forties before he decided to move ahead.
“I began doubting whether it was achievable” Bruce admits “but my tipping point for action came through some encouraging advice – ‘if you want to do it, you’ll find a way.’”
Bruce had the financial resources to engage in US surrogacy and is now dad to 15-month old daughter Frankie.
While he was single at the outset, Bruce met his current partner a few months into the journey. Yet Bruce takes on all the day-to-day responsibility for raising Frankie. As a solo dad, he admits “the psychological, legal and financial decisions were all the more challenging”.
‘Make sure you’re psychologically and emotionally ready’
“My workplace is incredibly supportive with work arrangements, particularly flexible start and finish times and work days” Bruce explains. “I also rely on childcare during work days and for time to myself. Of course, I rely on my partner for his emotional support and help with errands, and friends are invaluable for short-notice care, especially with my wider family living interstate”.
What advice would Bruce give to those considering whether surrogacy is for them?
“Make sure you’re psychologically and emotionally ready for the experience. Think about your expectations and how you will cope with setbacks. Think ahead to the kind of relationship you want with your surrogate and whether you want a relationship between your family and the donor and how that will work for your child.”
Bruce and other gay dads who created families with the help of donors and surrogates in the US, Canada and Australia will share their experiences in Brisbane on 19-20 June.
The upcoming two day get-together is a unique event for those considering building their own family. Attendees come to get to know parents, surrogates, donors, children via surrogacy as well as specialist lawyers, IVF physicians, surrogacy specialists and a host of other experts in this complex field. https://www.growingfamilies.org/2021-conference-and-event-schedule/
Growing Families is an information and referral hub for those wanting to build family with the help of donor IVF and/or surrogacy.