Researching commercial surrogacy has introduced me to some pretty remarkable people and families. Sam and his partner Phil have been through more than most people could bear and come out the other end accomplishing so much more than the average person would. Sam saw the need for a support network for all Australians who become or plan to become families through surrogacy and formed the organisation ‘Families Through Gestational Surrogacy’, now known as ‘Surrogacy Australia’. It is an excellent initiative providing information, networking, support and information for families through surrogacy as well as working to progress the rights, social and legal status of Australians using surrogacy overseas and within Australia. I asked Sam to write about how Surrogacy Australia came about and the aims of the organisation:
My partner Phil and I first started on the surrogacy journey in mid 2009.
After talking to a range of couples who had gone down this path, we chose an
Indian agency to work with in New Delhi. Like many couples before us, it was
a long and hard road to parenthood. We experienced the agonies of a very pre-term delivery (26 weeks) in Delhi in July 2010 – an event which culminated in our return to Australia in late August 2010 with the ashes of our babies Ben & Zac. In amidst the grief of this loss, I realised there was no structured support in place in Australia for families engaging in surrogacy journeys. Against a political climate in which my home state of NSW passed an amendment criminalizing parents who dared to engage with an
overseas surrogate, there was clearly a need for families like ours through surrogacy to have some support as well as a political voice. I threw myself into researching all I could about the wider climate of surrogacy globally – outcomes, risks, countries where it was legal and illegal – I found a university student who would set up a website cheaply for me and a group of parents around Australia who also agreed an organisation was needed.By December 2010, we had a name – Australian Families Through Gestational Surrogacy, reps in five states and rapidly built up a media profile. Our aims are:
• To progress the rights, social and legal status of Australians using surrogacy overseas and within Australia
• To improve understanding within the Australian community of why families access surrogacy and the measures in place to protect all parties.
• To provide and encourage social forums for Australians using
surrogacy and their children
• To provide an information and support network for prospective and existing Australians considering or using surrogacy arrangements
• To provide a central repository and access point for international research in relation to surrogates, commissioning parents and childrenSince then, our name has changed to Surrogacy Australia
(www.surrogacyaustralia.org), taking in those families using traditional surrogacy also.As of late February 2012, we have 153 families as financial members, spread throughout Australia, New Zealand and around the world. We have built connections with supportive politicians and lobbyists, have seven website sponsors and are hosting Australia’s first conference on Surrogacy in Melbourne in late May 2012, at which we will have delegates and speakers from not only Australia but India, USA & Georgia.