A Story of Surrogacy and Hope
Ahead of Donor and Surrogacy seminars in Melbourne and Sydney, global family building expert Sam Everingham looks at the fertility issues affecting many Australian women and how these can be addressed
Rebecca and her husband Matt Newson’s journey to parenthood began 12 years ago. Rebecca endured no fewer than 21 transfers here in Australia over six years. She lost twins at nine weeks, a singleton at eight weeks and multiple other pregnancies at five- or six-weeks’ gestation. Along with endometriosis, medical testing ultimately showed Rebecca to have an auto- immune condition (natural killer cells) as well as polycystic ovaries.
Rebecca’s medical specialist finally let her know that surrogacy would be her only option. While Rebecca did locate a surrogate locally, she was rejected by clinicians due to a past pre-eclampsia diagnosis. Unbelievably within days, Rebecca had located a second surrogate, and they jointly completed the lengthy counselling, legal and ethics approval processes. However, four transfers of PGD perfect quality embryos to this altruistic saviour failed to result in pregnancy
Finally, Rebecca and Matt turned to surrogacy in Ukraine, with a provider they met at a Growing Families conference.
‘We went through a lot of crap in the six years we did IVF before going to the Ukraine’ Rebecca reflects.
Within eight weeks they were in Kyiv meeting their surrogate. Their first attempt failed but their second led to pregnancy. Their daughter Maddison was born in November 2018, and Chloe followed in October 2020.
As illustrated by Rebecca’s story, while it is sometimes possible to find a surrogate locally, it is by no means a sure pathway. It means that more often foreign surrogates, donors and professionals are relied on. Countries such as the US, Greece & Ukraine are far better at screening and supporting surrogates than we are in Australia. But even then, there are pitfalls. Some agencies charge enormous amounts, others much less. Some make mistakes that can be expensive.
Relying on Google and online forums for advice has cost some couples tens of thousands in lost funds. Untested programs are emerging in new countries every year. Understanding various laws is important. Understanding success rates, when and where to engage and most importantly placing trust in other people is key.
Covid-19 has added an extra layer of complexity. Freezing and shipping sperm interstate or internationally is now commonplace to avoid the ban on travel.
While surrogacy is not for the faint-hearted, the joys of being parents can make it all worthwhile.
On 20/21 March, Melbourne and Sydney will host detailed seminars featuring lawyers, IVF physicians, surrogacy specialists along with parents and Australian surrogates. Rebecca and other parents who engaged in the US, Ukraine, Canada and Australia. will outline the current processes, hurdles and their recommendations for others. 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.