“It takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes it takes a village to make one.”
In Australia altruistic surrogacy is legal, but it is a complex subject, a daunting process, and not for the faint hearted. I’ve been immersing myself in this multi-faceted world for some time now. The reason for my interest is that one day I hope to become a gestational surrogate. For who? I don’t know yet! I used to think it would have to be for a friend, or someone I already knew. But now that I’ve joined some online surrogacy communities I see that friendships don’t have to start off in person.
Prior to my current job I worked in an IVF clinic. Year after year I would see the same patients coming in for fertility treatment – a soul destroying process. I ached to help them all. I did a lot of soul searching myself around the idea of donating eggs. Ultimately it’s just not something I can wrap my head around. However, I have no such qualms with cooking someone else’s bun in my oven. I’m quite ok with a bit of Extreme Babysitting.
I must admit I look forward to being up the duff again, for someone else. And I anticipate great joy in handing over a screaming, pooing, spewing little bundle of mystery to its intended parents. Ever notice that the word mystery looks a lot like misery… Anyhoo, I digress. I’m in the fortunate position of having support from my husband and my obstetrician, and together we will help to create another family. We will become a part of someone’s “village”. Pretty amazing stuff!
Occasionally I have discussions with friends about my intentions, and about the shortage of surrogates and egg donors in Australia. Some have said “I could donate my eggs, but I couldn’t be a surrogate”, or vice versus. But none to my knowledge have acted. And that’s ok. It’s a major decision and not to be taken lightly. But it would be great if they thought more about it. Talked more about it. I’m hoping that if we have more conversations with our friends and family about surrogacy and donation then it might not seem like such a foreign idea.
Personally I’m quite attached to my genetic material, but I’ve talked to lots of people who aren’t. Instead of letting it go to waste, they donate. What do they get out of it? Apart from knowing they are top notch genetic recyclers? They get the personal satisfaction that comes from making a fundamental difference in the lives of others. The same goes for surrogates. They get a gold star for womb recycling ?♻️✔
People who need donor material, and/or a surrogate to carry their baby, come from all walks of life. They can be gay, straight, single, coupled and work in all types of jobs, and come from many different backgrounds. Perhaps if you looked, you would find that person or people in need who inspire you to act. Or if true altruism speaks to you, you could make an unknown donation. There are clinics, such as the one in which I worked, that run donor programs and can facilitate a semi-anonymous donation (but in keeping with Australian donation laws).
For the women reading this who are fit and able and have the slightest inkling, I urge you explore this further (and the men! Australia’s freezers could use more sperm as well). This could be one of your life’s greatest achievements – if you can find it in your heart to take the leap.
There are some fantastic websites to read and online communities to join if you want to learn more. I’ve included some links below that I have found helpful (you’ll notice I’m a big fan of my Lawyer Sarah Jefford). I’m also a member of several Facebook groups for surrogacy in Australia. Reach out to me if you have any questions about them! IVF clinics local to you are also a good place to enquire. Although to be honest, I would start the exploratory process online as well as directly with a clinic. And remember, all states/territories and individual clinics do things differently. And some clinics may not run a surrogacy program, or a donor program.
An excellent Australian podcast series is being produced at the moment if you want to hear from donors, recipients, surrogates, psychologists and many more. It makes for a really interesting listen. https://sarahjefford.com/surrogacy-podcast/
?If you would like to find information on traditional or gestational surrogacy:
?If you want to learn more about known and unknown egg donation:
“Egg Donation: Seeing Yourself In Someone Else’s Child”