SurrogacyIndia’s focus is in fertility, not infertility. Making babies, is possible. ‘Possible’ is what we believe in.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Day of Miracle happened and an Angel stepped into our family. The first baby of SI was born on this date- 30th April 2009.

It is the day when our “making babies possible” journey actually began.
Marking this day as the day of luck and achievement we have now reached at this stage where our SurrogacyIndia garden is now filled with more flowers bloomed up and making it 350 babies now!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why surrogacy has nothing to do with same-sex marriage

Surrogacy in UK is mainly used by heterosexual couples not gay counterparts

Recent days have seen posters from those against marriage equality urging people to vote No to surrogacy. However, there is no evidence to link surrogacy to gay marriage.

At the moment surrogacy is not legal in Ireland. Legislation to regulate it has been promised by the Government, but it is unlikely to be enacted before the election. It will then be up to the Oireachtas to restrict surrogacy in any way it chooses.

Even where surrogacy is regulated, there is little reliable data on who is using it, who is providing it, and what ethical, legal and human rights issues have arisen.

One of the few significant studies has been carried out by the University of Huddersfield Repository, which collects, analyses and makes data publicly available. Using both data from organisations involved in surrogacy and UK government data on parental orders (which give legal parental rights to couples using surrogacy), the university was able to produce an authoritative analysis of trends in the UK, which are probably the best indicator of what might happen in Ireland if we follow their legislative regime.

The first thing that is clear from this study is that the majority of those having recourse to surrogacy are heterosexual couples, usually married, seeking to establish a family composed of a mother and a father with the maximum possible biological link to their child or children – a “traditional family” as understood by most people.

Under the UK’s 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, commissioning parents had to be married, aged over 18, domiciled in the UK and at least one had to be the child’s genetic parent. Commercial surrogacy was not allowed. The Act provided for “parental orders” making the commissioning parents the legal parents of the child.

In 1995, the first year of its operation, there were 50 parental orders made, and from then until 2007 there were between 36 and 51 annually, rising to 83 over the next three years.

In 2010 the law changed to allow same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples in “an enduring family relationship” to avail of surrogacy arrangements. In 2011, the first full year of the new regime, and the most recent for which figures were available to the study, saw a jump to 149 parental orders.

While there has been no consistent collection of data on who was seeking the orders, the Huddersfield study cites figures from the government agency Cafcass that there were 29 successful gay couple applicants and three successful lesbian couple applicants for parental orders that year. This probably includes some pent-up demand. The study suggested much of the rest was accounted for by unmarried people in “an enduring family relationship”.

The authors also speculate that some of the increase was accounted for by a growth in surrogacy arrangements made abroad.

So, in the UK, which has a liberal surrogacy regime, in the last year for which Huddersfield had figures almost 80 per cent of applicants for parental orders were heterosexual couples, and the majority of those were married.

One thing is for certain – surrogacy is an option only open to the well-off. Increasingly, people travel abroad for surrogacy arrangements and surrogacy in the US costs about $100,000, and about half that in other countries. The childless poor, whatever their marital status or sexual orientation, just have to accept their plight. On the other hand, surrogate mothers are usually poor and may be open to exploitation.

Marriage in itself does not convey a right to assisted human reproduction, especially surrogacy. A number of European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria, ban surrogacy, irrespective of the gender or marital status of the prospective parents.

There are good reasons for their concern about the use of surrogacy in family formation, particularly in relation to the possible exploitation of the surrogate mothers and inattention to the rights of children to their identity.

Emotional risk
There are no international conventions regulating it, and, as the authors of the Huddersfield study point out, “[exploitative] developments could include financial risk to the adults concerned, physical and emotional risk to both adults and children concerned and failure to afford due dignity and attention to the children and to the formation of family life.”

They point to the concern among social workers internationally that the regulation of inter-country adoption through the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption is driving an increased recourse to global surrogacy among those seeking to form families.

“Not only do [the arrangements] involve commercial elements that are illegal in the UK, but they have also involved medical procedures considered to be poor practice both medically and psychologically,” they write.

This study highlights the need for much more research into both the provision and the implications of surrogacy, and the need for an international convention to regulate it.

Hopefully all these issues will be discussed when legislating for surrogacy arises here.
But what we do know about it so far is that it has nothing to do with the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Carol Coulter is a former legal affairs editor with The Irish Times and is director of the child care law reporting project. She is writing here in a personal capacity.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Surrogacy Finds New Business Through Social Media

The National Health and Family Planning Commission and other departments have banned fertility clinics from using surrogate mothers. A notice issued in April further prohibits websites from publishing any information about surrogacy and orders the removal and blocking of all related information.

The ban on providing surrogacy information extends to all media, as well as health care workers, nurses and social agencies.

Illegal surrogacy has existed for many years as some couples have sought other options to have a baby. Service centers have given otherwise infertile couples the chance to have a baby while earning large amounts of money. However, surrogacy has been plagued by such problems as sex-selective abortion and surrogate mothers refusing to give up the baby.

In 2001, the government issued a notice that banned surrogacy services in hospitals and health care centers. This year, the National Health and Family Planning Commission and 11 other ministries and commissions said that illegal surrogacy is one of the main problems that need to be solved this year.

But surrogacy services have found a new advertising channel: social media.

According to a Beijing Youth Daily investigation, some surrogacy service centers have Weibo, WeChat and QQ accounts for advertising. Some surrogate mothers also publish the announcements through their own social media accounts.

A surrogacy service center called Feifan Yunyu, which claims to have experience with overseas surrogacy, has a website, WeChat and QQ accounts, phone number and a hotline for customer information. It also published at least one article per day about advances in surrogacy technology and posts articles on subjects such as parenting.

Other official WeChat accounts list VIP services and expenses, successful cases and other detailed information.

Some individuals claiming to provide surrogacy services actually run illegal sex transactions.

A QQ user born in 1996 told a reporter that she provides sexual surrogacy, also known as “cohabitation surrogacy,” in which clients have sex with the surrogate mother. If she becomes pregnant, the client takes her home to protect the infant. When the baby is born, the client also has to take care of the surrogate mother for the first month. Cohabitation surrogacy has few success cases and costs the father at least 300,000 yuan.

According to Beijing Youth Daily reporters, most surrogate mothers come from the countryside. Many of them help friends enter the business as well.

Social media may be the government’s biggest challenge in cracking down on illegal services because accounts can be easily terminated and replaced once the user suspects something is wrong.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Paralyzed Bride Rachelle Friedman Chapman Welcomes a Baby Girl by Surrogate

Rachelle Friedman Chapman and husband Chris Chapman welcomed daughter Kaylee Rae Chapman via surrogate on Sunday, April 26.

The new baby clocked in at 7.11 lbs. and now PEOPLE has exclusive photos from Kaylee Rae's birth from Helen Joy photography.

Rachelle, 29, became known as the "paralyzed bride" after a freak accident at a bachelorette party four years ago left her paralyzed from the chest down.

After the accident, she immediately worried about whether she could still have children. "I knew I was paralyzed and the first thing I asked the paramedics was whether I could have kids. I was ecstatic when they said yes," Rachelle told PEOPLE.

But doctors later told Rachelle that a medicine she takes for her blood pressure could be dangerous to her and a developing fetus if she were to get pregnant.

Rachelle was heartbroken – until a college friend heard her story and reached out about being a surrogate.

"My husband was a sperm donor for some of our friends, a same-sex couple, and that inspired me to think about surrogacy," Laurel Humes told PEOPLE at the time.

Humes and the Chapmans have kept in close contact throughout the pregnancy. "Rachelle and Chris even recorded their voices reading stories and other things and I play it for the baby at night using the belly buds Rachelle bought me so [the baby] can hear her parents' voices," Humes said.

And now that the baby's here, the Chapmans will document their lives as first-time parents for a TLC series that's currently in production.

"The crew is here in town waiting by the phone like we are," Rachelle told PEOPLE last week.

"People think as a quadriplegic I can't move anything, that's not true," she added. "This is mostly about educating people about parenthood, what I'm capable of, what it's like to have a spinal cord injury and our relationship. There's a lot I can do and I want people to see that."


Israel to fly premature surrogate babies out of Nepal by helicopters

As Kathmandu airport remains closed following devastating earthquake, Foreign Ministry works to evacuate newborns to Israel; search and rescue team expected to leave Saturday night.

The 24 infants born in recent days to surrogate mothers in Nepal are waiting with their Israeli parents to be evacuated following the lethal earthquake which struck the area on Saturday morning.

Nine of the infants were born premature and one is in serious condition. The Foreign Ministry told Ynet that it planned to fly out the families in helicopters from Nepal to neighboring India because the airport in Kathmandu was closed.

The babies will fly to Israel from India. The ministry said the process was complex but was being undertaken "transparently with the Nepalese."

President Reuven Rivlin said on Saturday night, "Our hearts and thoughts are with the nation of Nepal who are dealing with a terrible disaster, and with our loved ones who are in danger and distress."

Rivlin added that "Israel will extend its hand with a will to aid in search and rescue of the many injured."
A search and rescue unit from Home Front Command was to leave Israel on Saturday night to Nepal. The unit will likely include a full plane with the materials for a field hospital to be constructed in Kathmandu.

The surrogacy procedure and paternity confirmation in Israel is complicated. According to the law, if the babies are born to a Nepalese surrogate mother, the newborn is a Nepalese citizen. In order to allow for their flight to Israel, a DNA test must be performed to prove the father is an Israeli citizen.

Only then will the Israeli embassy issue the newborn an Israeli passport. Interior Minister Gilad Erdan directed the ministry to remove all potential obstacles in order to allow for the newborns' speedy transportation to Israel.

One of the parents, Israeli musician Ohad Hitman, said that while parents were able to rescue their newborns from the NICU before its second floor collapsed, they were now without medicine or hot formula and needed help from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

"I do not know how we will make it through the night here because we are almost through with our supplies," he said.
The Foreign Ministry will offer Israelis a ride home on the plane. Meanwhile, the plan has yet to be set in motion because the local airport remains closed.

Hundreds were killed in an earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude which struck east of Pokhara in Nepal on Saturday. The earhquake caused buildings and centuries-old temples in the capital Kathmandu to collapse and cut open roads in the worst tremor in the Himalayan nation in 81 years.

Several Israelis were lightly injured in the deadly earthquake in Nepal according to the Foreign Ministry. The number of Israelis designated 'out of reach' was raised to 250.

Eliav Zakai, whose son Shahar is a backpacker stuck in a trek in Kyanjin Gompa in Nepal, said at least 13 Israelis and other nationals were stuck in the area in a village that was completely destroyed in the quake. Zakai said the Israelis, texting home using a satellite phone, reported some locals were killed from their group.


Indian-origin couple have surrogate baby with relative in UK

An Indian-origin couple based here had their first child in over ten years of marriage after father's sister agreed to be the surrogate mother of their child.

Pritesh and Mansi Gandhi suffered five miscarriages before Pritesh's sister, Hiral Shah, offered to carry the baby for them.

The 32-year-old, who has a six-month-old son of her own, got pregnant through IVF at the first attempt with Mansi's egg and her brother's sperm.

She gave birth to baby Krish recently, the 'Daily Mirror' reported.

"My sister and I were always close but this has made all the difference. She is an extra special auntie and for the rest of my life I will be in debt to my sister," said Pritesh.

"She had a baby of her own at the time but she still wanted to help me and my family," added the 36-year-old, who works as an operations manager.

The Gandhis had looked into the possibility of surrogacy in foreign countries including India, Ukraine and the US but were overwhelmed by the expenses and legal wrangles involved.

They now want to encourage more infertile couples to use surrogacy in the UK rather than abroad, which can result in immigration and custody battles.

Accounts assistant Hiral said: "I witnessed all the losses which my brother and his wife suffered over the years. The handing over of baby Krish was obviously quite emotional moment for all of us."

Pritesh and Mansi met through family friends in 2001 and got married a year later.

They began trying for a baby after three years and in 2007 Mansi fell pregnant for the first time but went into early labour at just 24 weeks and lost the baby.

Doctors investigated and Mansi was diagnosed with cervical insufficiency -premature dilation of the cervix due to the weight of a growing baby - and went on to have five miscarriages.

A family meeting was called and Hiral and her husband Amish agreed to help out.

"I am sure that Krish will always have a special place for Hiral in his heart. It's a miracle baby and Hiral is a God-send for us," said Mansi.

The UK surrogacy law, which was changed in April 2015, entitles intended parents in the UK to have adoption leave and paternity leave and pay, which is simpler to claim if the surrogate is from the UK.


Commercial surrogacy industry creating baby factories?

“Outsourcing Embryos” is the name of a new fifteen-minute documentary from Vice for HBO in which correspondent Gianna Toboni travels to India to delve into the industry of commercial surrogacy. What she uncovers is eye-opening, even for those who have been following the surge of cross-border “womb-renting” for years.

India’s medical tourism industry is now worth $2.3 billion, with $500 million of that solely from the legalization of commercial surrogacy. Couples travel to India from all over the world to take advantage of prices that are a sixth of the cost in the U.S. – about $30-60,000 from a reputable clinic. But, as Toboni explains, the problem with commercialization is that “businesses start under-cutting one another and next thing you know, we’re bidding for the cheapest baby.”

To find out how low the prices could go, Toboni went undercover and found a man working from a back alley who offered a guaranteed delivery for just $12,000.


Mama cat nurses 4 newborn orphan puppies, likely saves their lives

Murray, Utah — The survival of four newborn puppies found abandoned depends on the help of a mama cat.

A woman reported that she found a box of  Chihuahua puppies one her car in West Valley City Tuesday, according to a press release from the Humane Society of Utah.

A note on the box indicated the puppies were born Friday, and their mother had died.

The woman then took the pups to a shelter around 3:30 p.m. where the staff decided to place the puppies with a surrogate cat mother in an effort to try to save their lives. Fortunately for the puppies, Kit, a brown tabby who had recently nursed her own kittens and was still lactating was dropped off at the shelter earlier in the day.

The pups were placed with Kit, who has been able to serve as a surrogate mother. The release states that all four puppies are moving and feeding at the moment.

“The puppies would not have survived into the night without food, so we’re lucky that the woman found them on her car when she did,” HSU spokesperson Deann Shepherd said. “Their survival is uncertain at this time since we do not know how long they have been without their mother or how long they were left in that box, but we’re very hopeful that they will make it.”

HSU staff is optimistic and have started looking for a foster volunteer who can take them home and look after this unique family, the release states.


Woolly Mammoth Genome Finally Completed; Are Humans Close to Cloning Extinct Species?

Researchers believe the woolly mammoth can be revived through cloning and using an elephant as a surrogate mother.

An international team of researchers provided the first and most complete genome of the extinct Siberian woolly mammoth. The complete genome opens the possibility of reviving the species through cloning.

Researchers from McMaster, Harvard Medical School, the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm University and others collaborated in analyzing the well-preserved specimens from the remains of two male woolly mammoths. One was believed to had lived in the northeastern Siberia almost 45,000 years ago, while the other one could have lived on Russia's Wrangel Island, located in the Arctic Ocean around 4,300 years ago.

Using sophisticated technology to analyze every piece of the specimens, the scientists concluded that the woolly mammoths' population started to decline 250,000 to 300,000 years ago. Earlier studies suggest that climate change and human hunting were the key factors that led to the woolly mammoth's extinction, but the new study suggests that it could be something more significant than those.

"We found that the genome from one of the world's last mammoths displayed low genetic variation and a signature consistent with inbreeding, likely due to the small number of mammoths that managed to survive on Wrangel Island during the last 5,000 years of the species' existence," Love Dalén, an associate professor of Bioinformatics and Genetics at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, said in a news release.

Aside from using the complete genome to determine the cause of the woolly mammoth's extinction, the researchers admitted that it also opens the possibility of bringing back the species through cloning and using an elephant as a surrogate mother.

"This discovery means that recreating extinct species is a much more real possibility, one we could in theory realize within decades," said Hendrik Poinar, evolutionary geneticist and director of the Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University and researcher at the Institute for Infectious Disease Research.


Judge rules Sherri Shepherd is legal mother of baby born via surrogate

On Tuesday, a judge ruled that Sherri Shepherd be named as the mother of a child born through a surrogate with her ex-husband’s sperm and another woman’s egg, reports TMZ.

Lamar Sally, who is currently in the middle of divorce proceedings with Shepherd, said that he was thrilled by the news, especially after Shepherd had distanced herself from the child and wanted nothing to do with it.

Shepherd felt she had been “tricked” into having the baby and felt “no connection or responsibility to the child.” She refused to pay child support and tried to distance herself from the baby, upsetting both Sally and the surrogate mother, who recently sat down with Inside Edition to tell her story.

“I am angry with Sherri because she never once contacted me to tell me what was happening. It was kind of like I was left out in the cold,” she said.

For his part, Sally seems to be confused about what caused the split and what caused Shepherd to turn away from a child he says she wanted.

“That is one of the reasons we married after only a year — because she was ready to do this,” Sally said in September. “I wanted to wait another year or two to get married but having a baby with me was so important to her I said OK, let’s do it.”

Speaking of their split, he told the Daily Mail, “To this day, I cannot pinpoint one thing that caused us to split up… Honestly I do not know what happened. No one was cheating, we didn’t fight much and we didn’t have money problems.”


Commission consider clarifying surrogacy question

A No campaign poster has prompted the Referendum Commission to consider issuing a statement clarifying surrogacy as it relates to the same sex marriage referendum.

The commission said it had received dozens of complaints about a poster from the No side which reads “Surrogacy?” and urges voters to reject the proposed amendment to Article 41 of the Constitution.

The poster from the “Mothers and Father Matter” No campaign group appeared this week in areas of Dublin city. It shows a photo of a toddler along with the banner “Surrogacy?” and the message “She needs her mother for life, not just for nine months—vote No”.

The Referendum Commission said it had received “loads” of calls about the poster. Its secretary Paddy Walsh said the body offers impartial information and, as such, will not get involved in the debate or penalise a particular group for disseminating false or misleading information.

However, Mr Walsh said the commission could publish a statement laying out the facts about a certain area around which it feels there may be some confusion, such as the question of surrogacy.

“There are no laws in relation to what can be said in a debate,” said Mr Walsh. “Each side will say the other is wrong.”

He said if voters were looking for unbiased information on the same sex marriage website, they should visit the Referendum Commission’s website.

So far the website simply states: “The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 deals with parentage in the cases of donor assisted births but not with surrogacy.

“While the Act has been passed, it is not intended to bring these particular provisions into effect for at least a year.”


Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Sherri Shepherd Case: One More Reason to Ban Commercial Surrogacy

The actress, author, and businesswoman Sherri Shepherd, currently on The View, lost her court battle today over the custody of her surrogate-born son. She and her soon-to-be former husband Lamar Sally, a scriptwriter, had been embroiled in an odd custody and support battle involving a child born to a surrogate they hired.

Shepherd and Sally entered into a 23-page contract with Jessica Bartholomew to serve as a gestational surrogate for them, using a purchased egg. The three faced off in court over the custody and financial responsibility for the baby boy named Lamar Sally Junior.

Unlike other disputed surrogate agreements, this one is not about the surrogate making claims for the baby, nor is it about the surrogate in any way failing to complete her obligation or wanting to keep the baby she carried. Nor, as in some disputed surrogate births, is it a case of the intended parents rejecting one or more babies for physical disabilities (as happened in cases such as that of Baby Grammy.

This was a case of the mother who, together with her husband, hired the surrogate, changed her mind and refused delivery of the healthy little boy.

Sally says that Shepherd wanted a baby and that they decided on surrogacy after she underwent fertility treatments, when it was determined that her eggs were not viable. Shepherd subsequently filed for divorce from Sally and claims to have been pressured by him to enter into the contract she now wants voided, despite her publicly shared joy about the impending birth.

Shepherd had refused to see the child and was not present when he was born. Because of Shepherd’s absence, Bartholomew was named as mother on the birth certificate and now has financial obligations she is unprepared to deal with. Bartholomew was paid $25,000 but is facing financial hardship after she received hospital bills. Because she is listed as the baby’s noncustodial mother in California, she has been charged with the baby’s medical expenses and has a child support case pending against her.

It is unclear if this issue was likewise settled today, but the path was paved by Shepherd being declared the legal mother. Lamar Sally told reporters that Shepherd had refused to have the child covered by her SAG health insurance despite being assured by Sally’s attorney that it would not prejudice the results of this case.

Who’s Your Mommy?

Determining paternity for custody or child support is a simple matter of DNA test results submitted to family court. While motherhood was once considered unquestionable, courts today are faced with convoluted cases of maternity involving multiple players. Twenty-first century motherhood is presenting courts with riddles far more complex than any that King Solomon had to unravel.

Sally expressed a desire for his son to know “his mother”.  “He’s going to ask me, ‘Where’s my mother? How come I don’t have a mom?'”

Even having been declared legal mother, however, does not mean that Shepherd can be made to act as a mother to the now 8-month-old child. When this boy asks who is mother is, will he really be referring to and wanting to know his father’s former wife who contracted for him but who is not biologically related to him?

Many adopted children and children of sperm and egg donation seek their biological parents in order to know their heredity and medical history. The only person other than his father this child is likely to think of in that role – his only genetic mother – would be the egg donor, who interestingly was a non-party, excluded from this litigation

Melissa B. Brisman, the attorney and owner of Reproductive Possibilities who arranged the surrogate contract was reportedly concerned about the precedent this case could have set for future surrogacy contracts. If prospective surrogates feared financial loss, clearly that would reduce the number of candidates, cutting into a lucrative business. Brisman therefore hoped that Shepherd would be found responsible, as it appears she was.

Sally’s lawyer, Tiffany Palmer, also had asked that Shepherd be held liable, claiming that it is in the child’s best interest to have two legal parents. Shepherd, whose income is far higher than Sally’s, has reportedly claimed that Sally wants the baby only as a way to obtain child support from her, in spite of the fact that they entered into the agreement while married.

One can only wonder what effect Shepherd’s choice to fight against being this child’s mother will have on her nine-year-old son from a previous marriage who was himself at the center of a custody battle.

Broader Implications

Jennifer Lahl, president and founder of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, is a former pediatric nurse and film-maker. Her documentary, Breeders: A Sub-Class of Women, cites numerous examples of surrogacy arrangements gone wrong, some of which are also delineated in a previous Huffington Post article on third-party reproduction. The question we should be asking is not just “Who is the mother of Lamar Junior?” but “Is it ethical to contract and pay for the creation of any child?”

The website for the Modern Family Surrogacy Center states that “there are many religious organizations that frown upon the process of surrogacy.”

In its purest form, writes Charles J. Dougherty of the Center for Health Policy and Ethics, “a surrogate mother has no genetic link to the child she bears. An embryo that is the genetic offspring of another couple is implanted in her uterus. The surrogate is a mother only biologically and only for nine months; she gives the child to its genetic parents at birth.”

Even this “purest” form of surrogacy was found unanimously to be unethical by eight scholars at a conference at Creighton University. Cases like the one at hand, involving not just a surrogate but also an egg supplied by yet another party, are further muddied by the fact that even if all had gone as planned, this child would not have been given to – or likely ever know – his genetic mother, the egg provider.

Commercial surrogacy is a multimillion-dollar industry with most of that money going to agencies, lawyers, and brokers, not the women who risk their lives to act as breeders. Paid surrogacy is banned in Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the state of Michigan.

Surrogacy, where allowable in the rest of the U.S., is largely unregulated, controlled mainly by fertility doctors, agencies, and clinics, many of which do not adhere to guidelines. This lax atmosphere “raises vexing ethical questions.”

Adoption separates children from their blood kin ostensibly to save them from abuse or a life of neglect in an orphanage. Adoption’s intent is to place children with vetted and screened parents. Despite the good intentions, adoptees have long described the difficulties which “not knowing” their heritage creates for them, their children, and their grandchildren. Unlike children born through surrogacy, adoptees have an original birth certificate that shows their accurate original parents’ names. States are one by one reversing antiquated laws that deny adoptees access to these original documents.

Surrogate births, on the other hand, resemble black-market adoptions and child trafficking in that they involve pre-birth contracts and money paid for the transfer of the child. Additionally, in surrogacy there is no birth record that records the actual genetic mother when it is the surrogate egg donor.

Surrogacy – like other forms of third-party anonymous reproduction – deliberately creates half-orphans, intentionally separating the baby from his or her genetic kin, with no pretense that doing so is in the child’s best interest or saves the child from potential harm. Surrogacy is simply a contract to produce a human being as a commodity to be sold to those who can afford to purchase a custom-made child, with total disregard for the child’s lost genetic history.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

At a crossroads: 4 infertility journeys

Infertility is the roadblock to starting a family that most do not expect.

It can silence dreams, dash hopes, challenge any faith and drive a wedge between two people who only wanted to bring a new life into the world.

Some try to overcome this complication by pursuing various treatments, adoption or surrogacy. These pathways can be fraught with even more challenges: emptied pockets, medical scares, failure and emotional turmoil.

We asked our readers to share these stories of their journeys during Infertility Awareness Week. They opened up about their successes and failures, their tears and smiles.

Here are four personal pathways through infertility:

Striving for a dream
Caitlin and Jeff Morton, a young and healthy couple, began trying to start a family three years ago. Within two months of buying a house, Caitlin was pregnant, her husband surprised her with a fancy stroller and they were overjoyed at the thought of becoming parents.

The cramping and bleeding began almost immediately, and Caitlin knew something was wrong. She demanded her blood be tested to make sure that everything was OK.

She miscarried soon after.

In pain, and feeling helpless, Caitlin lay in Jeff's arms on the couch, waiting for her body to pass the baby.

"I remember sitting there holding the tissue with the embryo on it, just crying," Caitlin wrote in her iReport. "Nothing could have prepared me for that."

They conceived naturally twice more, and Caitlin miscarried both times. After seeing a specialist and determining that she and her husband were truly healthy, they decided to try intrauterine insemination, a fertility treatment that places sperm inside the uterus to encourage fertilization.

They made three attempts, with no success.

A year later, Caitlin was pregnant again.

This time, the pain was so crippling that Caitlin felt paralyzed from the waist down. The black ultrasound revealed that she was bleeding internally from an ectopic pregnancy, meaning the embryo had formed outside of her uterus and inside a fallopian tube, causing a rupture.

Caitlin had to have emergency surgery. They removed the ruptured fallopian tube and discovered that her other tube was severely damaged. Caitlin realized she would never be able to naturally conceive again.

Now, Caitlin and Jeff will pursue in vitro fertilization.

"This is a very stressful journey: very expensive and trying on your emotion, body and marriage," Caitlin said. "I have been blessed with an amazing family, friends and husband who allowed me to grieve. I still to this day have pain from my emergency surgery. But what we hold on to is hope that we will someday have a baby."

Infertility: Why don't more people talk about it?

Life, loss and a miracle
After trying to conceive naturally for a year without success, Chris and Amy Skaggs decided to try IVF in 2008. They thought the emotional, physical and financial strain would be worth it if they could have a child. But it didn't work.

Eager to be a family, Amy and Chris spent the next two years preparing to adopt. While waiting to hear back on their dossier for an international adoption, the Skaggs' learned of a pregnant young woman in their area who would be placing her baby up for adoption. Amy went with her for their regular appointments. But the young woman miscarried.

Amy and Chris decided to pursue an IVF treatment again, this time with a new doctor who wanted to try things differently.

In December 2010, the young couple learned that they were pregnant with twins. But they were concerned because Amy was tiny, perhaps too small to carry twins. The twins, Leighton and Jaxon, were born at 28 weeks in May 2011-- barely over 2 pounds each. The "little fighters" were put on additional oxygen for three weeks.

In June, at 21 days old, Leighton came down with a fever and 48 hours later, she passed away. Chris and Amy were devastated.

But Jaxon pulled through and after 74 days in the NICU, they were able to bring him home in August 2011.

"We finally had our family; one baby on earth and one in heaven," the couple wrote in their iReport.

Chris and Amy created Leighton's Gift, a 501(c)(3) public charity to honor the daughter they lost. They hope it will help other families with babies in the NICU.

They wanted a sibling for Jaxon and decided to try IVF for a third time, but it didn't work. They would have to pursue an egg donor.

The donor egg worked for Amy, and she was able to carry the baby for 37 weeks. Olivia was born in November 2013, giving Jaxon the sister they had always wanted for him.

The Skaggs' also have frozen embryos from their donor, in case they want to grow their family.

"Throughout our infertility story, we learned tremendous lessons in patience, humility, unconditional love, persistence, determination, advocacy, understanding and strength," the Skaggs' said.

A family for Kassidy
After marrying in 2007, Tiffany and Todd Ray wanted to start a family. But Tiffany had a unicornuate uterus, half the size of a normal uterus with only one fallopian tube, so they started fertility treatments.

They paid out of pocket for three cycles of intrauterine insemination, two cycles of IVF and two frozen embryo transfers, all of which resulted in four first trimester miscarriages.

The couple was looking into adoption when Tiffany learned that she had become pregnant naturally, which seemed miraculous given their past struggles.

But an ultrasound revealed that the baby had a neural tube defect, resulting in an absence of the brain and portion of the skull. The Rays had to make the heartbreaking decision to terminate the pregnancy in light of the fatal diagnosis.

After it was over, Tiffany sat in recovery with other women.

"I cried for my baby, I cried for the women around me, and I cried because I wanted what so many of them ended," Tiffany wrote in her iReport.

Picking up the adoption thread again, the Rays learned through an agency in Indiana that there was a young, pregnant woman who wanted to place her baby with them.

Even after the expensive fertility treatments and termination, the Rays put thousands of dollars toward helping the birth mother through her pregnancy. They formed a close relationship with her as well and traveled from their home in Pennsylvania to Indiana multiple times.

Two days before the baby was due, the birth mother texted the Rays that she wanted to be a parent. Their financial and emotional investments had been for nothing. The Rays were devastated.

But their hopes were fulfilled when a friend called to tell them about a baby girl who had been brought into foster care and placed with her great-grandmother. The elderly woman had heard about the Rays and wanted the child to be placed with them. They immediately became foster parents for little Kassidy.

"And nine months later, we finalized her adoption, and Kassidy became a Ray," Tiffany said.

DNA on ice: The next step in women's equality

Hoping for a baby, inheriting a family
Nikki and Matt Cobleigh were married for 10 years before they made the decision to have a child together.

At age 34 in 2009, Nikki began fertility treatments. In between each failed intrauterine insemination, the couple would take a consolation trip to incredible destinations, such as Costa Rica or India or Buenos Aires.

But in truth, Nikki was emotionally drained by each failed IUI. She joined a support group through RESOLVE, the national infertility association, for motivation to keep trying.

After three IUIs, a sonohysterogram revealed that her uterus was filled with polyps. She had to have surgery to remove them and wait before trying any other treatments.

After a time, Nikki tried IVF. They ended up with eight viable embryos to freeze and then began the process of an egg transfer. Because of the progesterone Nikki was taking, she felt like it had worked -- the treatments simulate all of the symptoms of pregnancy.

But the transfers didn't work. They lost five embryos. Nikki says it was like losing five children.

They had only three left when Nikki realized that her body's tendency to create surplus scar tissue had resulted in her uterus growing shut after the surgery to remove the polyps. They had lost five embryos for nothing.

"It was one of the hardest days of my life, realizing that," Nikki said.

Nikki and Matt reached out to a surrogacy agency when she realized conceiving on her own wouldn't be possible.

She endured one more IVF treatment to create more embryos for freezing.

The couple discussed what they wanted in a surrogate -- someone with a clean life that excluded drinking or drugs, came from a good family structure and living in Utah. They worked into the night on their wish list.

That same night, in Park City, Utah, Angela Haymond submitted her application to become a surrogate. The single mother of two boys, 9 and 11, had always known she wanted to be a surrogate and help another couple bring a child into the world.

The Cobleighs were matched with Angela through the surrogacy program. Using Nikki's frozen embryos, Angela would carry twins for the Cobleighs.

It was a match made in heaven, Nikki said. Angela became like one of the family to the Cobleighs. They talked on the phone every day, went to appointments together and flew back and forth for visits. More than a contractual relationship, the two families bonded.

Slowly, Nikki's mourning for the fact that she couldn't carry the twins herself was replaced with the excitement of becoming a mother.

Nine months later in March 2014, when Nikki was finally able to hold the twins, Lily and Kai, all of the protective barriers she had built around herself fell away.

"It was like my heart melted in that moment," Nikki said. "I let my heart welcome being a mom."

The Haymonds and the Cobbleighs have become even closer over time. They spend Christmas and other holidays together. By helping Nikki and Matt's family expand, Angela's own family has grown.

"Our pathways were meant to cross," Angela said. "It has been such a joy to see them become a family."


Tuesday, April 21, 2015


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.

To those gay intended parents caught up in the confusion, the year was stressful, but emphasised the importance of education, communication and connection. Certainly one outcome has been greater enthusiasm amongst intended parents to locate a surrogate at home.

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, 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.”


Monday, April 20, 2015

Surrogacy laws may be a bridge too far for Australia

Last year an Australian "commissioning" couple left a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome with his surrogate mother in Thailand. Last week we heard that another Australian couple wished to bring back to Australia only one of "their" twins born to an Indian surrogate mother.

Attorney-General George Brandis is considering a recommendation from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs that there be an inquiry into the regulatory and legislative aspects of surrogacy.

Infertility is the cause of a lot of pain for many Australian couples. You would have to be very hard-hearted not to sympathise with couples who, because of medical issues or other circumstances, are not able to have children. I truly sympathise with them and understand why some seek surrogacy as a way to circumvent infertility. They want a child to love.

For very many children, adoption is also a great blessing and benefit for which they will always be grateful.

However, surrogacy causes difficulties for children and for the surrogate mothers who bear them. Some people emphasise the difficulties for the child; others emphasise the difficulties for women who become surrogates.  

Surrogacy makes it very difficult for a child to understand their origins and identity. Our family links are an important part of who we are. Surrogacy puts a question mark over the child's parentage. As many as three women may share the role of "mother": a woman who donates the egg, a woman who carries the child to birth, a woman who raises the child. And the child's biological father may be merely the donor of the sperm.

Surrogacy intentionally violates a child's right to be brought up - if it is possible - by their natural parents. Surrogacy intentionally breaks the gestational link between the child and her natural mother. A deeply ingrained bond is created between mother and child by nine months of sacrifice, love and care. For the first nine months, it is the mother's voice the child hears. Having been intimately connected with her body, the child will always have unique physical and psychological connections with the woman who  gave birth to them. For this reason, it is now widely recognised that adopted children have the right to know who their biological parents are, if that is possible.

Surrogacy repeats many of the mistakes we Australians have made in the past. Children born of anonymous sperm donation - and the adults they become - come to mind. They so often long to know and to have a relationship with their natural parents. They tell us that they grieve over the loss of relationship with their natural siblings.

Overseas, where "commercial" surrogacy is allowed, there is a clear power disparity between the relatively affluent commissioning couples and relatively poor women who act as surrogates. Surrogate mothers must work hard to ensure that they do not form a bond with the child during pregnancy. Of course surrogacy is not ordinary work: it involves the woman's whole body and her whole life.

The Baby Gammy case was significant because it revealed the workings of the market: the child seems to have been rejected because - as a product - he did not come up to expectations.

However, so-called "altruistic" surrogacy, though it removes that commercial element, is ethically troubling in other ways. Where relatives are involved, as is often the case, a potential surrogate may feel she has an obligation to help, and the conflicted nature of the child's identity within the family will persist over a lifetime. Identity is not something that can be simply chosen.

The Immigration Department receives about 250 citizenship applications a year on behalf of children born overseas as a result of "commercial" surrogacy. It is being asked to deal with situations presented as a fait accompli: the child has been born and the surrogate mother has agreed to hand it over. Our citizenship laws are not made to deal with this difficult problem.  

However, rather than revising our laws so as to facilitate arrangements which intentionally sever the bond between mother and child, we need to consider whether it really is possible to enact laws which, on the one hand, are just to the children born of surrogacy and to their surrogate mothers and, on the other, are compassionate to infertile couples. That may be a bridge too far.


Commercial surrogacy should be legalised, Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant says.

The Chief Justice of the Family Court has called for the immediate legalisation of commercial surrogacy in Australia.

In a wide-ranging speech in Brisbane last night, Justice Diana Bryant told journalists that current laws were driving couples to enter into unethical arrangements overseas.

She said two disturbing cases of child abandonment in India and Thailand should force the Federal Government to act.

Justice Bryant said Australian women should be able to be paid to be a surrogate mother.

"I personally think we should regulate and allow commercial surrogacy in Australia," she said.

"If we allow it in Australia, we then can regulate it and ensure that it's done on ethical terms."

Justice Bryant said a national inquiry was needed.

"I think the Government could eliminate some of the worst aspects of international surrogacy by devising some ethical requirements that need to be met before intending parents are permitted to bring a child back into Australia," she said.

In Australia, it is illegal to pay a woman to carry a child for someone else, except in the Northern Territory where there are no laws concerning surrogacy.

In the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and New South Wales, it is also a criminal offence to arrange a contracted surrogacy in another country.

But the threat of prosecution had not deterred thousands of Australian couples from going overseas to pay a surrogate mother.

Justice Diana Bryant said when they arrived home with a baby, there were many ethical and legal dilemmas, especially when an egg donor had been used.

"That child is never going to know their biological mother, and in those cases, there is absolutely no opportunity for them ever to find out," she said.

"The knowing the biological parentage for me would be one of the first steps and I think we have a responsibility as a country to make sure the worse aspects of commercial surrogacy are overcome."

Professor Jenni Millbank from the University of Technology in Sydney, who is an expert in family law, said she supported the legalisation of commercial surrogacy in Australia.

"A number of leading thinkers, policy makers and researchers in Australia are coming to a consensus that we need to liberalise domestic surrogacy," she said.

"We just have a head-in-the-sand approach of saying, 'money's changed hands - it must be bad - we'll ignore it'."

The president of Surrogacy Australia, Robert Reith, agrees.

"It's been far too long that surrogacy has been frowned upon or action not taken by governments to stem the flow of people looking for a surrogacy option in Australia and only to be forced overseas to unregulated markets," he said.

After years of looking, Mr Reith and his wife had just found a surrogate, but under current laws they would be unable to pay her for carrying their child.

"Just the fact that we can't even compensate them for giving us, potentially, the most precious gift of all, is just unreal," he said.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Paid surrogacy will work here if we do it with care

WITH the news this week of another Australian couple abandoning a baby overseas, it’s time to talk seriously about surrogacy and law reform.

This latest case, uncovered by the ABC, is reminiscent of last year’s high-profile Baby Gammy case, but has some key differences: this abandonment happened in 2012, the baby boy was healthy and it was arranged for him to be adopted out to another family, rather than leaving the, presumably impoverished, surrogate holding the baby.

But what both these stories have in common is that the commissioning parents spent a lot of money and effort to buy children, without considering or caring about what would happen if something went wrong. In this case, the family abandoned the boy and only took the girl because they said they couldn’t afford a second child, which, considering the family could afford commercial surrogacy, raises some red flags.

In 1988, before I grew up and became a person, I was known as Baby Alice. Children in the media can get the moniker of “Baby First Name” because of something very good, or something very bad. Luckily, I was “Baby Alice” for a good reason: I had parents who wanted a child so much, and have such a supportive family, that I became Australia’s first IVF surrogate child and the second in the world.

Even in those early days, my parents thought through every contingency. As is often the case, two embryos were transferred, so they had to consider what they’d do if there were two of me, or what if one or both of us was severely disabled. They decided that they would love and care for their children no matter how many, how healthy or unbearably awesome they happened to be.

They also worked out that even if my aunt Linda (my intensive babysitter/surrogate) discovered she couldn’t give up the baby, that they would simply dote on their new niece and swallow their disappointment.

Linda wasn’t paid to have me; she was in it for the adventure, another experience of childbirth and to gain a fairly fantastic niece.

For a long time, I thought that altruistic surrogacy was the only way to go, but my stance has evolved. If you don’t treat the child you commissioned as a commodity, but instead as a child that you love, and you’re open and honest about the entire process from the beginning, there is no reason for that child to be adversely affected by their origin.

And, frankly, it’s unfair that the women who are risking the most in this situation aren’t allowed to be compensated in Victoria for their potentially life-threatening act of generosity.

Australia needs to catch up with the rest of the world and introduce national surrogacy laws that allow for commercial surrogacy in a safe, regulated environment. It needs to happen soon, but since there wasn’t a legal framework for surrogacy in Victoria until I was 20, I won’t hold my breath.

More than that, though, we need to talk about how parents going through surrogacy, donor conception and even something as basic as IVF sometimes lose sight of the fact they’re going to end up with an actual child, not just a baby. Those processes take years and so often I see the parents’ dream of a baby start to twist, just slightly. It makes sense: the process is long and thinking about there being a real person at the end of it, one who will probably live with them for the next 30 years, can be too much, too many dreams to deal with all at once, all the time.

So before anyone embarks on this journey, they need to keep some things in mind: why do they want a baby? Can they handle raising a disabled child?

If they can’t handle having a disabled child, are they and their surrogate OK with aborting the foetus? Are they prepared for the scenario of multiple births? And are they willing to tell their child the whole story of their origin early, often and with pride?

People trying to have a child the regular way should probably think those things through, too, though they really shouldn’t tell their kids about their origin too often: that would be gross.

Surrogacy can be a beautiful, generous thing, but only if we do it mindfully.


Oregon's paid surrogates are choice for same-sex couples around world

The first time Carey Flamer-Powell gave birth, she delivered a girl and took her home. The second time, she delivered a boy and sent him to Georgia.

Flamer-Powell, 38, was a gestational surrogate, paid to carry the boy by his future parents, a lesbian couple. As a lesbian herself who'd struggled with infertility, Flamer-Powell found her experience so stirring that in August 2014 she set up a surrogacy agency catering to gay and lesbian clients. Eight months later, All Families Surrogacy does a brisk business from a third-floor office in the Beaverton Round Executive Suites, drawing clients from around the world.

In a convergence of medical advances and cultural shifts, Oregon has quietly become an international destination for gestational surrogacy, an industry banned in many states and countries. Couples from all over the world, especially gay and lesbian couples, come to the state and pay $100,000 or more for the chance to become biological parents, a transaction that mixes business with joy and wraps the resulting babies in a bundle of practical, legal and ethical questions.

Intended parents from countries of all stripes - Israel, Argentina, China, Australia, France, Sweden, Ecuador, Canada, Germany, Egypt - are flocking to All Families and other Oregon surrogacy agencies for a combination of reasons, said those working in the field:

Oregon has no law against gestational surrogacy. Some states, such as Washington, forbid any paid surrogacy; Oregon surrogates are advised not to travel to Washington in their third trimester. In other states, surrogacy is legal for heterosexual married couples but not for same-sex couples.

Oregon has a pre-birth procedure for amending a birth certificate so it bears the names of the intended parents and not the surrogate's. The procedure, devised by Beaverton lawyer Robin Pope about eight years ago, allows the intended parents to bypass a court hearing through a process called declaratory judgment. As a result, establishing legal parentage is "very straightforward" in Oregon, Pope said. The procedure puts Oregon "really ahead of quite a few states," said Judy Sperling-Newton, director of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (AAARTA) and an owner of The Surrogacy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

Oregon is home to several nationally known fertility clinics that have high success rates with in vitro fertilization and live births. John Chally, an adoption attorney and co-founder of the 21-year-old Northwest Surrogacy Center in Portland, said he remembers 25 percent pregnancy rates in the early days of gestational surrogacy. Now fertility clinics are so sure of success they are willing to transfer only one or two embryos at a time.

Oregon surrogates are seen as particularly desirable. "We have a good reputation in terms of being healthy, (having) prenatal care, taking care of themselves," said Adrienne Black, a former surrogate who founded a Eugene surrogacy agency, Heart to Hands Surrogacy, in 2011. Geri Chambers, another former surrogate who owns the 5-year-old Greatest Gift Surrogacy Center in Sherwood, agreed: "We're definitely more of an organic, plant-based, natural type of surrogate."

Oregon surrogacy is less expensive, relatively speaking. "It seems like the fees for all of these things are a little less than in California or on the East Coast," Black said.

Read More Here:

China institutes strict measures against surrogate births

The central government has said it will take a tougher stance on surrogacy, a practice that has grown underground in China as infertility has increased.

“Surrogacy upsets the natural order of childbirth and poses potential health risks,” the statement said. It added the practice contradicts the government’s population policy.

A health commission spokesman later said that regulators will ban any businesses related to the practice.

This is the strongest signal about surrogate motherhood that the government has ever sent. China has no law on surrogacy, but in 2001, health officials banned the trading of fertilized eggs and embryos, and prohibited hospitals from assisting surrogate pregnancies.

These rules forced the practice underground, and the industry uses the Internet to advertise and provide information to people.

As part of the crackdown, Internet and telecom regulators will prohibit content about surrogacy from appearing on the net, and the health commission will order newspapers and magazines to remove all surrogacy-service-related information from their publications and sites.

Medical institutions, doctors and middlemen involved in the business will be punished according to the law and regulations, the statement said. Medical equipment and drugs that are used in surrogacy will also be monitored.


Family Court chief seeks surrogacy law change

Australia should urgently legalise commercial surrogacy, says the Family Court’s Chief Justice, Diana Bryant.

Justice Bryant will be the keynote speaker this week at a lecture and discussion hosted by The University of Queensland’s TC Beirne School of Law and the Australian Association of Women Judges.

Justice Bryant said laws should be standardised across the states and territories to avoid complex court cases and to end uncertainty for surrogate babies, mothers and contracting parents.

“The law must keep up with scientific and societal changes,” Justice Bryant said.

“Commercial surrogacy is not legal in Australia, but some fear this is driving people overseas to do it.

“Parents who return to Australia with a surrogate baby – especially those who have made surrogacy arrangements in breach of the law in their state of residence – face complications in the Family Court system.

“This causes great stress for all concerned.”

Justice Bryant said the legal issues surrounding surrogacy reflected the fast-evolving nature of family law, particularly concerning reproductive rights.

Contracting parents and governments were ignoring a child’s right to know its biological parents, in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Justice Bryant said the “Baby Gammy” case in Thailand last year brought surrogacy to public prominence, highlighting the lack of protection for overseas surrogate mothers, the grey areas around unwanted children and the current lack of checks on the suitability of contracting parents.

Justice Bryant’s lecture will examine current laws and discuss models for legal change.

Panellists at the event will be Justice Roslyn Atkinson AO; Chief Judge John Pascoe AO CVO, Federal Circuit Court of Australia; Professor Andreas Schloenhardt from the TC Beirne School of Law and Stephen Page, Partner at Harrington Family Lawyers.

The event will be at the Banco Court, Supreme Court, Brisbane, from 5.30pm this Friday (17 April).


Australia's Julie Bishop backs officials over India surrogacy

Australia's foreign minister has backed consulate officials in India over the case of a couple who rejected a baby born to an Indian surrogate.

The Australian couple had twins through the surrogate in 2012 but only kept the girl; the boy went to an Indian couple.

The couple said they could not afford to keep both babies.

Julie Bishop, speaking on a visit to India, said she believed staff at the consulate and the foreign affairs department had "acted professionally".

The row comes in the wake of the birth last year of a baby with Down's syndrome to a surrogate mother in Thailand. The baby was left in Thailand while his twin sister went home with Australian parents.

That case sparked intense debate in Australia about international surrogacy agreements.

Emails and other messages between Australian officials in Delhi and Canberra show the couple - who have not been named - travelled to India in late 2012 to seek citizenship for a baby girl.

What the parents said to the Australian High Commission staff in Delhi over what would happen to the baby boy left behind remains unclear.

However, they told Australian consular staff that the twin brother would be left behind because they could not afford to keep him.

They said they already had a son at home and wanted to "complete their family" with a girl.

They reportedly told officials that the boy would be given to friends in India "who were unable to conceive a child".

The documents, first obtained by Australian broadcaster ABC, revealed that Australian officials had raised concerns that the baby boy could be left stateless as India "did not recognise surrogate children as citizens".

A cable from High Commission staff to Canberra early in 2013 said: "The proposed adoptive parents are in fact not close family friends of the biological parents, but are known to the biological parents through a mutual friend."

Ms Bishop said, quoted by ABC, said it was "a matter for the Indian authorities as it always was".

"There was only one application for citizenship, as it was, Australia could only act on the application that was made, but subsequently we have determined that the adoption was valid and that the Indian authorities are now in charge of the matter."

But she said Australian officials were continuing to stress that people entering into surrogacy arrangements checked both the legal situation in their home state and in the country they were hoping to adopt from.


Beijing tries new tack in fight to stem surrogacy tide

China's health authorities announced last week they would join forces with the police and 10 other government agencies to enforce a ban on surrogate births.

The initiative, which will go until the end of 2015, aims to clamp down the birth alternative as it "severely interferes with China's lawful infertility treatments and the natural means by which married couples bear children, damages public health and impacts the implementation of the national birth policy," according to a note on the website of National Health and Family Planning Commission.

While surrogate birth is illegal under Chinese law, underground surrogate mothers and various services in the name of surrogacy provided by sex workers have thrived, reports our Chinese language sister paper Want Daily.

In China, many married couples with fertility problems have looked for alternatives to have a baby of their own, even if it is against the law. With business booming, other illegal trades in the name of surrogate birth services, mainly prostitution, have also mushroomed in the dark.

The internet, given its anonymity, has served as a haven for service providers for both surrogate birth and sex workers, and has become a major obstacle for control by authorities, the report said.

Many of the sex rings advertised on social networking media like instant messaging apps WeChat or the Sina Weibo, claim to provide surrogate services in the form of cohabitation. No necessary details such as the medical procedures were given; the ads merely suggest that the services involve sexual intercourse.

Some agents claim to provide "foreign ovum," and display photos of young, beautiful Thai ladies said to be potential surrogate mothers and ovum donors. It is unclear whether these agents actually mediate between foreign surrogate mothers and sterile couples.

There are home businesses getting in on the action too. A young woman claiming to be 19 posted a message online saying that she would be a surrogate mother for 300,000 yuan (US$4,800), and that "the odds of getting pregnant is minimum," a rather clear statement that she would be providing services other than giving birth to a child.


Fresh surrogacy concerns over boy abandoned in India

Australian officials could do almost nothing to stop Australian parents from abandoning their baby son, born through surrogacy in India, after the couple decided they did not want to bring him to Australia.

In documents that raise fresh concerns over overseas surrogacy arrangements, government cables and emails show that Department of Foreign Affairs staff told an Australian couple that they could leave their son "stateless" if they did not apply for Australian citizenship for him.

The documents, released under Freedom of Information and first reported by the ABC, show Australian officials struggling to deal with the case of a couple from NSW who had twins - a boy and a girl - born to an Indian surrogate in 2012.

The husband approached the Department of Immigration in December 2012, saying that he and his wife only wanted to take the baby girl back home, explaining to officials "they could not afford to support both children".

"He also stated that they already had a boy and wanted to take the girl to complete their family."

"Our ability to ensure the welfare of a non-Australian child in a foreign jurisdiction is limited," an official cable sent in late 2012 says, while other messages call for "urgent" advice from government colleagues.

"To date, we have not confronted a situation where a child born through surrogacy arrangements is put up for adoption."

The husband also told officials that he and his wife wanted to adopt the child out to close family friends who lived in India. Officials later became aware the prospective adoptive parents were only known to the biological parents through a mutual friend.

It is understood that the baby boy was left behind when his parents returned to Australia.

Last year, Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant told the ABC that officials had told her they were concerned money had exchanged hands in the process of adopting the boy, which she said could be human trafficking.

Under state legislation, it is also illegal for NSW residents to enter into overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements.

The case of the baby boy comes after last year's baby Gammy case, where a little boy with Down Syndrome was left in Thailand by his biological Australian parents.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, who is currently travelling in India, has been contacted for comment.


Campaign against Surrogacy in garb of Medical tourism

‘Baby bump’, considered a metaphor for pregnancy, but is synonymous to surrogate women that their identity is never remembered. Surrogacy has become the other mask of the medical tourism flourishing in many district towns of Andhra Pradesh.

The concept of surrogacy (technically ‘Assisted Reproductive Technologies’) has many facets. It is taboo to discuss for the conservative circles, a cash cow for the fertility industry comprising agents and the clinics taking up In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), but finally, it is a source of inexplicable pain and harassment for the target women.

The wish of the privileged to have baby as per their choice often takes a toll on the poorer women in the society’s underbelly. ‘Can we see the baby bump please?’ a 41-minute-film directed by Surabhi Sharma, highlights the concealed side of ‘medical tourism’, a refined term for commercial surrogacy. The film also captures the mood of the women going for ‘reproductive labour’ in tune with the wish of the couples engaging their services. This is the first screening in Andhra Pradesh, while it has already been shown in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu, apart from USA, Germany and Sri Lanka.

“Domestic hands are the common target groups, as the ‘carriers’ are required to be from the poorer sections in need of money, but not physically too weak,” explain Anindita and Simran of ‘Sama’, the Delhi-based resource group for women and health that arranged the film screening. Sama demands an organized system in place and effective monitoring mechanism to ensure the health and rights of the women getting into surrogacy.


SUPERMUM: Surrogate mother having 11th baby at Scunthorpe General Hospital

BRITAIN'S first surrogate mother has described a woman about to give birth to her 11th surrogate child at Scunthorpe General Hospital as an angel.

Kim Cotton became the UK's first surrogate mother in 1985 and she has praised Karla Kirkby – one of the country's most prolific surrogates – for giving couples the gift of a newborn baby.

Karla, who lives in Brigg and has two children of her own, has so far had 10 surrogate babies and is due to give birth to number 11 at the end of May.

Kim said: "Karla is blessed with fertility and she is like an angel.

"It is very rare to have someone like Karla.

"In terms of surrogates who have had 10 or more, we are probably talking about four or five in the UK."

Kim, a mother-of-two herself, is acting chair and founder of voluntary organisation Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy (COTS). It provides advice, help and support to surrogates and intended parents.

Kim, who gave birth to three surrogate babies, said: "We have between 50 and 55 births a year at the moment.

"We are always looking for potential surrogate mothers out there.

"It is a fantastic way to, I think, make use of your time at home.

"When you are bringing up your own little ones, this buys you more to stay at home with your own children.

"It is a way of making use of this time that you are housebound.

"You are sharing your fertility with a more unfortunate person that may not be able to have children.

"We have never, ever had a surplus of surrogates.

"We are always seeking surrogates and it is very difficult."

Kim said the "feel-good" factor is the reason many women choose to become a surrogate.

She said: "It is very addictive. The feel-good factor is so amazing – it is that feeling of having changed someone's life.

"It is a very powerful emotion and it is very hard to know when to stop.

"A lot will stop when they cannot conceive and I do worry about the risk of multiple pregnancies.

"In the olden days before the pill, people were having 15/16 children and I think financially bringing up that many children is impossible. It is not the same as surrogacy.

"There is wear and tear on the body but you are not caring for this child – you are giving them away.

"You can go home, recover and get on with your own life."


'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' News, Update: Kim Kardashian Could Use Surrogate for Second Baby?

It is highly likely that Kim Kardashian-West would need to use a surrogate if ever she and husband Kanye West decide to have another child. Kim, 34, who gave birth to her first child North West in June 2013, apparently developed a problem in her uterus after she gave birth, which meant that she might not be able to carry another baby.

In the latest episode of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians," Kim was told that a proposed operation to remove parts of her placenta stuck in her uterus after her last birth would expose her to risks if she got pregnant again.

An emotional Kim said, ''There is nothing more on this earth that I want more than to be pregnant again and to go through that experience, I would pay any amount of money to have that."

Kim also said that surrogacy " really scary for me, I don't want one, I don't want that to be my reality."

If ever, it will be " last resort, surrogacy. As much as I hated being pregnant, and I complained every step of the way and joked that I didn't want one, I really don't want a surrogate."

She added, "I wouldn't dare ask anyone to do this for me. It freaks me out, what if they're a lunatic, what if they run off with my baby? I can't do it, I just can't."

Kim, who had been very open about her desire to have another baby with husband Kanye West said, ''I complained so much about being pregnant, I never thought I would be begging to be again. Trying for baby number two is not fun like baby number one."

During the same episode, Kris Jenner, Kim's mother, dangled the possibility of having Kim's sister Kourtney as a surrogate. Kourtney, who has had three kids with her partner Scott Dissick, also famously offered to be the surrogate for her other sister Khloe and then husband Lamar Odom's baby when Khloe was having difficulties getting pregnant.

Although Kim insists on getting pregnant and carrying her next child herself, without the help of a surrogate, we just need to wait and see whether her medical problems are indeed serious enough for her to drop this option. If surrogacy is the only answer, will she take up her mother's offer and use Kourtney?


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gay dads vs red tape.

The Home Affairs Department is at risk of being hauled into court for ignoring a court order that it register a same-sex couple as the parents of their surrogate-born child.

The battle could set a precedent. Many same-sex couples and single men are desperate to become parents but are unable to do so because of the department's failure to recognise their rights in respect of surrogacy.

Surrogacy is governed by the Children's Act of 2005 as amended. The provisions for surrogacy came into effect in April 2010.

Stuart Logan and his husband, Niclas Wagner, have been stonewalled in their attempts to register themselves as the parents of Neo, a boy born two weeks ago.

"Since our marriage we have wanted a child," said Logan. "But now that our beautiful son has been born the department is slamming doors in our faces, preventing us from being registered as Neo's parents."

Their battle started when they were issued with Neo's birth certificate last week.

Instead of reflecting both men as Neo's parents, in compliance with the Cape Town High Court order, only Logan's name was on the certificate. He was cited as the father.

According to the certificate, the mother is unknown. Wagner is not cited as the other parent.

Department officials allegedly tried to get the couple to break the law by registering the surrogate as Neo's mother.

Logan said: "We told them we wouldn't because it's illegal. All we want is a child, but now, after preparing for our child for three years, locating the egg, finding the right surrogate mother to carry our child, and complying with all the laws, we are being blocked."

Several attempts since Thursday to get comment from Home Affairs have failed.

Logan and Wagner's lawyer, Robynne Friedman, said there were many same-sex couples and heterosexual single men hitting a brick wall with the department.

South Africa, said Friedman - a surrogacy law specialist - has surrogacy laws that are among the world's most progressive.

"The problem is not the law but the Home Affairs Department, which has staff ignorant of the country's surrogacy laws and who operate with computer systems that cannot compute same-sex couples as surrogate parents."

She said her law practice handled about 20 same-sex surrogacy applications a year.

"What's happening is an absolute nightmare, not only for this couple but for others.

"If their child's birth certificate is not amended we are going to court to compel the department to do what it's legally and constitutionally obliged to do."

Friedman said she was concerned that department officials had wanted the couple to name the surrogate mother as the mother.

"It's blatantly illegal, especially in terms of the court order.

"Her name may not appear on any documents in relation to the child."


‘Elton John surrogate scenario is not wanted’ - Senator on same-sex marriage

“We don’t want an Elton John scenario here,” Independent Ronan Mullen said on The Week in Politics yesterday.

The singer, who married his film producer partner David Furnish last year, has two sons born to a surrogate mother.

Mr Mullen has been campaigning for a No vote in next month’s referendum.

He faced off against Senator Katherine Zappone who asked what good a No vote would achieve during the RTE TV debate.

“The absence of marriage equality tells lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people that their relationships and lives are not worthy of equal protection,” she said.

Meanwhile, Catholic bishops reaffirmed their stance that the church will no longer carry out the civil part of wedding ceremonies if marriage equality is extended to gay couples.

The refusal would affect tens of thousands of heterosexual couples if the referendum passes.

A senior spokesman for the Irish Catholic Bishops said he believed priests are unlikely to have any issue with the hierarchy’s decision to force all couples marrying in the church to carry out the civil aspect of their marriage elsewhere.

For a wedding in Ireland to be legally recognised, it must be solemnised by a person on the register of civil solemnisers.

Some 4,121 of the 5,461 people on the register are Catholic priests.


Only 107 civil registrars are listed, so the move would result in a significant delay for couples seeking to have their marriage legally recognised by the State.

“If the referendum is passed, the church’s view and the State’s view of marriage will be radically different,” the spokesman said.

“It’s reasonable that the bishops would decide to separate the two. A priest’s role is to join  two people in the eyes of God only.”


Surrogacy, women entangled in the ‘strings attached’

‘Baby bump’, considered a metaphor for pregnancy, is so synonymous to these surrogate women that their face is never remembered.

The concept of surrogacy (technically ‘Assisted Reproductive Technologies’) has many facets.

It is taboo to discuss for the conservative circles and a cash cow for the fertility industry comprising agents and the clinics taking up In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), but finally, it is a source of inexplicable pain and harassment for the target women.

‘Medical tourism’

The wish of the privileged to have baby as per their choice often takes a toll on the poorer women in the society’s underbelly.

‘Can we see the baby bump please?’ a 41-minute-film directed by Surabhi Sharma, highlights the concealed side of ‘medical tourism’, a refined term for commercial surrogacy. The film also captures the mood of the women going for ‘reproductive labour’ in tune with the wish of the couples engaging their services.

Palpable frustration

When the film was screened before civil society groups, sex workers, stigmatised women and positive women, besides the Women and Child Welfare officials at Chittoor on Wednesday, their first reaction was palpable frustration on how the lives of women could become so valueless. “Though the concept is new to us, it is hardly different from ours,” said a sex worker, who found striking similarity in the case of the woman, who had been led into commercial surrogacy by her own spouse.

Another wondered if the women’s lives were covered under insurance and what would be their fate in case of a miscarriage.

‘If there is no suitable law, how will her death be compensated?’ asked the worried third.

“Domestic hands are the common target groups, as the ‘carriers’ are required to be from the poorer sections in need of money, but not physically too weak,” explain Anindita and Simran of ‘Sama’, the Delhi-based resource group for women and health that arranged the film screening.

In fact, this is the first screening in Andhra Pradesh, while it has already been shown in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu, apart from USA, Germany and Sri Lanka.

Organised system

Admitting that surrogacy cannot be wished away and a ban will make it more surreptitious, Sama demands an organised system in place and effective monitoring mechanism to ensure the health and rights of the women getting into surrogacy.


Australian couple 'misled Indian officials over abandoned surrogacy baby'

An Australian couple has reportedly abandoned a baby boy born via surrogacy in India, potentially leaving him stateless.

The ABC reports the NSW couple returned from India with a baby girl, while leaving her healthy twin brother behind in India.

The Australian government and the Australian High Commission in India were reportedly aware of the arrangement, even though international surrogacy arrangements are illegal in NSW, where the couple lives.

According to Freedom of Information documents obtained by the ABC, the father told officials he would leave the twin boy with family friends in India who were "unable to conceive a child." This turned out to be false, as a cable from Australian High Commission staff to Canberra in early 2013 revealed.

"The proposed adoptive parents are in fact not close family friends of the biological parents, but are known to the biological parents through a mutual friend."

The documents also said the couple travelled to India in late 2012 to gain citizenship for the baby girl, but told consular staff they would leave the boy in India because they could not afford him. It was also revealed the couple already had a son in Australia and wanted a girl to "complete their family".

The couple were "repeatedly told" that abandoning the twin boy would leave him stateless, since India doesn't recognise children born from surrogacy arrangements.

"If the parents do not apply for Australian citizenship for the child, the child will be stateless in India ...our ability to provide assistance to a non Australian citizen is limited," a DFAT email on December 19, 2012 said.

DFAT said the boy was formally adopted in India, although no documentation supporting that has been made public, the ABC reported. Documents also reveal the boy is entitled to Australian citizenship, but that needs to be applied for as it's not automatically granted.

The issue of surrogacy was spotlighted last year after a West Australian couple were accused of leaving a twin boy, known as Baby Gammy, with his surrogate mother after they discovered he had Down Syndrome.


Does crowdfunding for surrogacy or fertility treatment work?

Couple set up crowdfunding page to raise money for surrogate pregnancy

A London couple have created a crowdfunding page on the site in an attempt to raise the £5,000 they need to make their dream of becoming parents together a reality.
Lauren Marchant already has a three-year-old son Logan from a previous relationship but to complete their family she and her husband Ben are desperate to have a child together. When Lauren gave birth to Logan she had a difficult C-section during which she haemorrhaged and was put on life support, which resulted in a hysterectomy.

Lauren's aunt has stepped forward to be a surrogate but, because Lauren already has a child, the NHS will not fund the fertility treatment she needs to complete the process and give Ben a biological child. The total cost is around £20,000 and the couple still need to raise £5,000.

It seems that crowdfunding for fertility treatment and surrogacy costs is something that we're going to see more of but how willing are people to donate money to strangers so they can have a child?

Another U.K. couple, Jo and James Hilton, have also been crowdfunding for a surrogate pregnancy for over 18 months but have only reached just over £2,000 of their £15,000 target. Jo, 34, has had fertility problems for over 15 years, including more than one ectopic pregnancy, half a dozen miscarriages and a radical hysterectomy. She has also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, osteoarthritis, Polycystic ovary syndrome and PTSD resulting from the loss of her pregnancies. Jo says that because she is on morphine-based medication she and James have been turned down for adoption, leaving surrogacy their only option. But they are still a long way from paying for their dream.

An increasing number of couples are also choosing to crowdfund for IVF treatment but it seems equally difficult to get the public to donate to the cause. American couple Deirdre and Harold Alby, who have been struggling with infertility for three years, started their crowdfunded fertility mission in May 2014 and 11 months later their total (currently $5,379) falls far short of their $32,000 target.