Getting started - for surrogates
While it is an incredible gift to enable people to become parents, offering to carry a baby for someone is a big decision. Beyond meeting the eligibility criteria, you will need to consider the many physical, emotional, and legal issues involved.
Laws in Victoria and throughout Australia prevent people from advertising or publishing their willingness to act as a surrogate. Most commonly, someone known personally to the intended parents acts as the surrogate. However, some intending parent(s) find a surrogate through online forums or surrogacy support groups.
Being a surrogate is both rewarding and challenging. It is important that you have thought carefully about the medical, financial, legal, practical and emotional implications for you and your family, and the consequences for the child who would be born from this arrangement.
You will undergo a range of medical procedures including fertility treatment, pregnancy and birth; each with associated risks. You should be comfortable with undergoing fertility treatment, taking medications, injections, internal ultrasounds, embryo transfer procedures and discussing sensitive details. Fertility treatment may not always result in a pregnancy, you may have a pregnancy loss or require a number of treatment cycles.
Within Australia, it is illegal to be paid to be a surrogate beyond medical and other reasonable expenses. Medicare does not currently subsidise the costs of surrogacy in Australia and as such these need to be covered by the intended parent(s).
Other practical considerations to think about:
- Your motivation. Why do you want to be a surrogate?
- Your age. Medical complications increase the older you are. Discuss this with your medical specialist, particularly if you are older than 40.
- Your health. Have your previous pregnancies been healthy? Do you have any medical conditions or lifestyle choices that might affect a pregnancy?
- Your work. Will your workplace be supportive and flexible regarding medical and counselling appointments, and potential time off due to pregnancy complications and after the birth?
- Your life. Is this the right choice for you and your family? Is this the right time? It can take a long time to complete all the steps before treatment commences. How much time are you prepared to commit to this?
- Your support network. Do you have the complete support of your partner, children and extended family?
- Your children. How will you explain the pregnancy and your relationship with the surrogate child to your children?
One of the most important and lasting decisions you make as a surrogate is which couple you choose to help create a family. This can have lasting effects on you and your family. The relationship with the intended parent(s) can have a significant effect throughout the surrogacy arrangement.
A survey of surrogates on what helps form successful relationships with intended parent(s) showed open and honest communication, and trust and respect for each other, are as vital as a healthy pregnancy. You should discuss the type of relationship and contact expected, both during and after the surrogacy arrangement. Ensure you work through any potential issues. There are a range of topics to discuss with the intended parent(s), including:
- Giving the baby to the intended parent(s) after birth.
- The legal status and parentage issues of the child. You will be considered the legal mother until parentage is transferred to the intended parent(s).
Helpful resources & support
“To this day, Dom and I are extremely proud of the assistance we gave through such a successful surrogate arrangement. We have never looked upon Pippy as our child and we accept unconditionally that Pippy is the child of her parents. We love Pippy dearly and our lives have been enriched by her being here.” Laura - surrogate for her sister
Frequently Asked Questions
How many women act as surrogates in Victoria each year?
In 2017-18, 35 women received fertility treatment as surrogates in Victorian clinics, and 13 babies were born as part of surrogacy arrangements.