Tag Archives: gestational surrogacy

Sam Everingham on Surrogacy Australia

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 children

Since 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.
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Filed under australian families through gestational surrogacy, surrogacy australia

The rights of the parents of children born through surrogacy

Australia is unquestionably behind when it comes to infrastructure supporting families. Where European countries such as the Netherlands offer paid parental leave that is on par with the salary earned prior to taking parental leave for up to 12 months, the Australian government offers “taxable payments of $543.78 per week for 18 weeks, a total of $9788.” When the average weekly income in both public and private sectors in Australia is $1376.30  the federal government is clearly falling short. Families are left to either rely on; their employers offering fair paid parental leave; having to save and wait to have to have a baby; having to put young babies in child care to return to work or; suffering financially to be the main carer of their young children. I find myself wanting to say “at least there is some parental pay now” where previously new parents in Australia were only entitled to a one of baby bonus off around $5000. However, these payments are less than the minimum wage, $589.30 – it is difficult to grapple with the logic here. Employers are free to offer their own parental leave packages for employees and these tend to be more generous and realistic, after all, the companies pay off is a happy employee bringing their specific skill set and experience back to the company.

The SMH reported today that a mother who had her child through gestational surrogacy is being denied paid parental leave by her employer, the State government:

The Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award 2009 has provisions for maternal and adoption leave only and the Premier’s personnel handbook stipulates these do not apply to ”foster or surrogacy situations”.

It is shocking to see that the State government is discriminating against this parent and child in this way. The SMH quotes the mother saying:

”I’ve got a baby, the woman who adopts has got a baby, the woman who, fortunately for her, has had a baby; we’re all in the same boat,” she said. ”We all, thank god, go home with a baby but those two get paid parenting leave and I don’t.”

From what I understand Linda Burney‘s case against commercial surrogacy was all about the welfare of the child – how will this form of discrimination against children born through surrogacy and their parents protect the best interests of the child?

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Filed under baby bonus, best interests of children through surrogacy, crown employees, employment award, gestational surogacy, Intending parents, public and private sectors, surrogacy