Skip to content

When not if: Surrogacy for Australia

Surrogacy is the most complex way to become parents. Who would ever want to go down such a seemingly difficult path, if they didn’t have to? Surrogacy involves a battery of doctors, counsellors and lawyers, followed often by being recognised by a judge that you are the parents. Except for those undergoing adoption, no one else has to subject themselves to such a complex journey to parenthood.

And unless your partner was a lawyer, who would ever talk to a lawyer about how to become a parent, if they didn’t have to?

Since 1988, I have advised (as of May 2022) in over 1780 surrogacy journeys for clients from every part of Australia and at last count 32 countries overseas. I have been very lucky to help others become parents. I give my wealth of experience in the book.

I tell my amazing story – both my professional life in which I have been a pioneer in my field, but also my path to parenthood. I have suffered infertility. My surrogacy journey with my husband Mitchell was especially difficult, more difficult than most of my clients- but we got there in the end. And now life is grand. I for one like to help my clients get to become parents as quickly as possible, a task I much prefer to cleaning up other people’s messes.

Most importantly, this book is a how to guide about how to do surrogacy right the first time- and how to avoid the pitfalls, of which there are many.

The fundamental message of this book is that despite all the horror stories about surrogacy, surrogacy done right is an extraordinary human experience- where a magical woman gives the gift of life to someone else- in order for the intended parents to become parents.

The first part of the title, and the other fundamental message of this book is when, not if you become parents. There are catches, of course, but this is a message of hope borne out of long experience. Reality, not spin.

The book is a testament to the extraordinary women – egg donors and surrogates- who help others become parents.

There is a lot of information on the internet about surrogacy. Some of it is accurate, but much of it is inaccurate. This book paints it as I see it and tells it as it is, not how it might be. My job for the last 34 years has been to give accurate advice to my clients on their surrogacy journeys- because I owe them duties as their lawyer. I have never taken a fee to refer my clients to surrogacy agencies or IVF clinics, or ever paid a fee to do so. I have always focused on the best interests of my clients- just as I have focused on getting information right in this book.

There is a chapter on Australian surrogacy statistics. These paint the picture that, sadly, most surrogacy journeys occur out of necessity overseas.

There is a chapter on LGBTIQ+ parenting: including places that LGBTIQ+ intended parents can go, and where they are restricted.

And, of course, I give realistic figures about how much the whole journey might cost you- with differences depending on where you live or where you are thinking of going.

There is also a potted practical guide to surrogacy law in every State. While every Australian State and the ACT have laws about surrogacy (and soon there will be laws in the Northern Territory about surrogacy, which I helped create), they’re all different. What is lawful in one State and considered altruistic surrogacy is illegal somewhere else. I cover the lot, that’s what. I have been fortunate to be a pioneer in surrogacy across the country. Included in the book I set out the effect of pioneering court decisions that recognise what is conception, what is and is not commercial surrogacy, and who is or is not a parent. Many of these cases are ones I was involved in.

In all of Australia those going overseas for egg donation could be committing serious criminal offences. In five, soon, six, of our States and Territories, those going overseas for surrogacy could be committing criminal offences overseas. In one State, even if they go to an overseas altruistic country, Canada, they could still be committing a commercial surrogacy offence back home. The book helps explain what these are, and how to avoid committing these criminal offences.

And finally, I suggest ways that our surrogacy laws can be fixed. The sooner the better.