These single men are looking to start a family through surrogacy

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Surrogate fathers

Shaun Resnik (left) became the first single dad in Victoria to have a child through surrogacy. His story has inspired Suhel Jain (right) to begin his journey to fatherhood.

On 2 March 2022 Shaun Resnick described himself as “the happiest man in Australia”.

It was the day his son Eli was born and the end of a three-and-a-half-year surrogacy journey he endured as a single man.

“I think society is only just waking up to the notion of single fatherhood, especially single gay guys who’ve really had to work super hard to become dads,” the 44-year-old told The Feed.

“One of the great things that’s come out of it (the surrogacy journey) is, it’s been an inspiration to a lot of people. So all of a sudden, while I’m out and about people are coming up to me to say congratulations, and thanks for being an inspiration.”

Shaun was the first single man to be granted approval for the strict requirements to do surrogacy in Victoria.

His journey to satisfy that state’s Patient Review Panel — which assesses people’s applications to access assisted reproductive treatment — included getting legal advice and undertaking counselling and psychological assessment.

“Surrogacy in Australia is altruistic so they (surrogates) don’t get paid nor does the egg donor – it is a gift from their hearts to yours,” he told The Feed.

“The beauty of that is that Eli now gets to have a relationship with his birth mother Carla.”

Shaun spent years building relationships with a number of potential surrogates, three had to pull out for personal reasons.

Throughout that time Shaun was speaking to the woman who became his surrogate Carla Pincombe, about all his ups and downs in the journey.

Shaun and Carla had met at a surrogacy support group, where intended parents, meet potential surrogates, and slowly became close friends.

“There was never ever, ever any intention for Carla carrying for me. She was just purely a friend. And we’d just be mentors for each other.

He told The Feed it was after the third surrogate fell through that Carla said she would carry the baby for him.

“It was one of the most outstanding offers I’ve ever received in my life. I was like in tears. Finally, Carla had come in and saved the day!” he said.

Battling different states’ surrogacy laws

Nicole Russell, a surrogacy lawyer based in Melbourne, told The Feed she has seen an increase in single men looking to start a family since Shaun’s story came out.

“I’m certainly seeing a lot more enquiries made recently, and doing it (surrogacy) alone is definitely tough,” she said.

Nicole helps people navigate the delicate legal grounds of surrogacy in Victoria.

One of the challenging things about surrogacy in Australia is that there are no uniform laws.

Each state has its own laws and this can make it difficult when seeking surrogacy across state borders.

For example, intended parents in Tasmania must have a surrogate in that state.

In Western Australia, surrogacy is not available to gay couples.

Surrogates in Victoria and Western Australia must have had their own child before being a surrogate.

However in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia they can be a surrogate for their first pregnancy.

The minimum age for surrogates in each state and territory is 25, except for the ACT, where it is 18.

Before any procedures can go ahead the surrogacy must be approved by the Patient Review Panel in that state.

‘Aladdin is a story of good triumphing evil, which is a good lesson for my future bubba’

Inspired by Shaun’s journey, Suhel Jain has taken the first steps to begin starting a family through surrogacy.

The 35-year-old has had to go out of his comfort zone to make connections with potential surrogates online and in person.

“I’ve never had social media before in my life but I’ve signed up to Facebook to join these surrogacy support groups where intended parents can introduce themselves to surrogates,” he told The Feed.

“I’ve been to two (in-person) surrogacy meet-ups where intended parents and surrogates get the chance to have dinner or lunch and get to know each other.”

“I am ready for this journey, I know it will be a long one and will depend on the niceness of others and the selflessness of others.”

Suhel told The Feed he recently bought a three-bedroom house in Melbourne with two of the bedrooms reserved for his parents and his future child.

“In Indian culture it is really important for a child to have a relationship with their grandparents,” he said.

“My parents are in India but I plan to bring them to Australia once I’ve found a surrogate.”

He told The Feed that while his parents are supportive of his decision to start a family alone, other people in his life have been somewhat critical.

“I’ve heard comments like ‘Oh, you want to be a single dad? So that means the child will not have a mom, have you ever thought about that?’ And ‘Why do you want to bring the child to a world where there is no mom?’” he told The Feed

“Everyone expects you to have a traditional family and when you don’t have that you are kind of the black sheep of the family.”

“But I’ve silenced all those critics by saying ‘look, it is my journey. It is me as an individual. I am the nurturer. I will be doing everything for my child’.

Suhel has also bought some small toys and figurines for his future child including one of his favourite childhood film Aladdin.

The 35-year-old told The Feed that he bought the toy set while travelling in Spain.

“Aladdin is a story of good triumphing evil, which is a good lesson for my future bubba,” he told The Feed

“I want them to know no matter how hard things get in life, being good is the best outcome.”

Creating the next generation of circus performers

Sam Whelan, a circus performer from Melbourne, will start the pregnancy phase of his surrogacy journey soon.

The 31-year-old told The Feed he will be going through a traditional surrogacy method, where the egg donor also carries the baby.

This method is less common in Australia than surrogacy involving an embryo being transferred to the surrogate’s uterus, with the surrogate having no genetic link to the child.

“I wanted to go down this path (traditional surrogacy) as I believe it gives you a stronger connection to the surrogate and there is more of a bonding experience,” he told The Feed.

“Price is another factor, with traditional surrogacy we’re cutting out the middle man and not going to IVF clinics, I expect it’ll cost between $5,000 and $20,000.”

“Surrogacy journeys where there is a donor and surrogate can vary massively in price.”

One of the main reasons for this is the potential for repeated fertility treatments.

Sam told The Feed that he has always wanted to be a parent, but when he turned 30 it was a big emotional push for him to start trying.

“I was ready to be a dad at 25 and by 30 I started to really look into it seriously and I don’t wanna wait around for someone,” he told The Feed.

“At least this way (being single) I won’t have to compromise on parenting styles.”

He told The Feed that he is past his peak as an acrobatic performer and looks forward to beginning the next chapter of his life as a parent.

But it hasn’t been a smooth journey. He told The Feed it took some time for his parents to get on board with his surrogacy journey.

“Initially they didn’t support my decision but I bought my mum a book to explain the journey (of surrogacy) and why people do it.”

Sam said he now has support from both his parents.

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Categories: Biological Father, Biological Mother, In Vitro Fertilisation, Reproductive Medical Assistance, Sperm Donation, Surrogacy
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