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.