Monday, February 24, 2014

So you want to make a baby seminar

On 12 April, 2014 I will be speaking as part of a panel about how gay and lesbian people can become parents- and how to avoid the pitfalls of the process.

After all, for a lesbian couple to have a baby typically involves IVF or yon turkey baster; whereas for gay guys who want to have their own baby, surrogacy is essential. There are many traps for those who want to use known donors, and the risks have been particularly exposed by a Family Court case last year.

Other common issues are when one partner in a lesbian relationship offers to swap her eggs so that her partner becomes pregnant- so that both become parents of the baby. While this might seem straightforward, this also involves tricks and challenges.

The other speakers on the panel will be respected IVF counsellor Mr Michael Condon, and renowned fertility specialist Dr Warren DeAmbrosis.

Michael is probably the most senior fertility counsellor in Queensland. He is a psychologist, and has for many years been the senior counsellor of Queensland's largest fertility clinic, Queensland Fertility Group.

Warren DeAmbrosis is a renowned fertility specialist and one of the founders of Queensland Fertility Group.

The seminar will be hosted by the LGBTI Legal Service Inc. The LGBTI Legal Service, as its name implies, provides legal help through volunteers like myself, to members of the LGBTI community. It has now operated since July 2010 and was opened by the Hon. Michael Kirby on World Aids Day on 1 December 2010. I have been a volunteer at the service since it first started. The service is completely unfunded. It receives not a cent from government, but receives generous sponsorship from the Queensland Aids Council.  Anything you can donate that will help this vital service survive will be gratefully appreciated.

Date:  Saturday 12 April 2014

Time: 10.30am to noon

Place: THE VENUE HAS NOW CHANGED TO MEET DEMAND. The venue now is: Uniting Church Hall, 52 Merthyr Rd, New Farm

Cost: Entry is free, but donation to the LGBTI Legal Service is strongly encouraged


6 months for STI? Is it really necessary?

In a bid to cut time, clients sometimes ask me: why do we have to wait 6 months for sexually transmitted infection controls? Why are they necessary? Why can't they be shorter, or not at all.

Here come my limitations. I am of course merely a surrogacy lawyer and not a wunderkind fertility doctor. I am not the person who can actually make embryos but merely the add on, who can help guide clients through the labyrinth. So my first answer to this question is simple: this is a medical question, I am a surrogacy lawyer, not a fertility doctor - go ask the doctor.

However, the usual requirement, in Australia's case as I understand it as required by the industry regulator RTAC, is that 6 months is required for sexually transmitted infection (STI) controls. In other words, 6 months should go by before testing is completed, this being the period that is typically required for HIV.

Given that this is the usual medical standard, if you are considering undertaking surrogacy, and your clinic says that they don't require STI testing, ask yourself the simple questions:
  • what if the surrogate gets HIV or other serious infections such as hepatitis, or for that matter you end up with a baby that is born HIV positive?
  • if they are prepared to cut corners on that, then on what other things are they also prepared cut corners? What does that mean about their honesty and medical standards?
Sometimes doctors have told clients that they can undertake the tests in 4 months. Again, I am not a doctor- but the usual standard is 6 months. On this I suggest get a second opinion from a doctor at another clinic- so that you can satisfy yourself that you won't accidentally give the surrogate- or for that matter her partner, or your baby, HIV or even syphilis.

The simple rule is the best: if in doubt- avoid, avoid, avoid. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The joy of the job: babies through surrogacy

The joy I have in helping people have babies- is helping people have babies!

In the last couple of weeks a number of my clients have had babies. Every time they do makes my day. There is nothing more joyous to hear that a baby has been born, and even better, to get pics or video of the baby, and even better, to be thanked for helping bring that baby into existence.

Here's some lovely feedback I recently got from two couples:

Thank you so much for that! B and I are so so so happy. Its been an amazing journey since we first spoke to you and I wanted to tell you that every single person who has helped us on this path has been so wonderful. Thanks again Stephen for your guidance and support. You gave us the confidence to get things rolling from the very beginning!



Just letting you know that M was born 3 weeks ago and we arrived back in Australia safe and sound on Sunday morning. Things are going great and we wanted to thank you and your team for your help during this process.