Monday, October 21, 2013
Perth surrogacy seminar
Ben Roberts and his partner of 12 years Brett turned to overseas surrogacy to have a child after they were told they were not suitable to be foster parents.
Almost $40,000 later, they are proud parents of nine-month-old Lachlan, born to an Indian surrogate through a commercial arrangement.
Mr Roberts, a baker, said they had always wanted to bring up a child and decided that going through an agency in India was their best option.
"We were lucky the surrogate fell pregnant first attempt and it all went really well, and even organising Lachlan's passport and Australian citizenship was relatively straightforward," he said.
"Of course we think he is worth every cent we spent."
Mr Roberts is the biological father so is named on the birth certificate while the mother is listed as unknown.
They are yet to look into ways to have Brett legally named a parent, too. They are among thousands of Australian couples, heterosexual and gay, turning to commercial surrogacy, with many finding it the easiest way to have a family if they are unable to have a child themselves.
Perth barrister Michael Nicholls said overseas surrogacy was a multimillion-dollar business that is replacing international adoption as a preferred way of having a child.
Despite a legal minefield, more couples were turning to surrogates, spurred by a highly-regulated international adoption scheme and medical advances that made reproductive technology such as IVF more available and reliable.
"The problem that faces a couple who want a baby through an overseas surrogacy arrangement is not the availability of surrogates or services, both of which are readily available overseas at a commercial cost," Mr Nicholls said.
"The real problem they face is being recognised in law as the parents of the baby that is produced as the result of the surrogacy arrangement."
Mr Nicholls said couples coming home could face problems if their country did not recognise them as the baby's parents and refused to give them a passport for the baby.
"They might be able to get an order from a court that the baby is to live with them, and have 'parental responsibility', but that doesn't make you a parent, which is what they really want," he said. "So you have a range of problems about conferring parentage on the commissioning couple, even if they provided all the genetic material, sperm and eggs, and the baby is genetically identical to them.
"People tend to go into these arrangements not really understanding what the consequences are, or the possibility that the result of a surrogacy arrangement might be a stateless child with no legal parent."
Mr Nicholls is speaking at a Perth surrogacy seminar on Saturday, organised by Chatarina Brady, who has a seven-month-old son Felix born to a Thai surrogate.
Mrs Brady said she wanted to help other couples interested in surrogacy, after finding it difficult to get reliable information.The seminar will cover legal and practical aspects of domestic and international surrogacy and is open to the public. For details go to surrogacyaustralia.org.
Posted by Phoenix at 9:10 PM