“TERMITES”! This is the one word, aside from fire that will send a shiver up the spine of any homeowner. For a couple of years or so I was a member of a business network, Action Network, along with Ben MacCotter and his father Jackson of MacCotter Pest Control. (I'm still a member, but regrettably they've left.) Each week Ben or Jackson would tell some story of death or devastation that would send a shiver up the spines of all the members present. Sometimes we would hear about mound ants or cockroaches, rats or bird lice or even creepily of all – bed bugs, but the stories of devastation to ordinary homes caused by termites were the most traumatic and scary.
Whenever Ben wanted to scare everyone present, he would start out with that word: "TERMITES!" Instantly he would have everyone's attention.
One great story was about the home buyer who got a building and pest inspection report from a builder. It might be stating the obvious- but a builder isn't a pest inspector. He reported that the house was in great condition, "solid" and that there was no evidence of termites. Three weeks after purchase, the buyer was bathing her children and noticed termites in the bathroom door frame. On the MacCotter's checking the home and the report, they saw that the builder had taken photos of current termite activity- but not knowing what he was looking at declared that everything was OK. He hadn't seen what a trained eye saw easily.
What have termites got to do with surrogacy? Everyone says that buying a home is the most important financial transaction that occurs in your life and therefore the most important decision. Buying a home is extremely important, but I wouldn’t consider it the most important. The most important decision in someone’s life is whether or not to have a family. For many people, the option of last resort (and in some cases, first resort) – that of surrogacy – is the only one open to them.
When buying a home, as with undertaking surrogacy, especially international surrogacy, prevention is better than cure. You don’t have to have a building and pest inspection undertaken when buying a home. With luck, you can save the money and buy a house and live in the house for the next 30 years without any drama.
However, not having a good building and pest inspection increases your risk. It could be that the house you thought you bought was not the house you thought it was, it was merely a house of cardboard. You still owe the debt to the bank, but you don’t have anything to show for it- except devastation and cost.
You could decide to get someone dodgy to do your building and pest inspection report. Filled with self-delusion, you might satisfy yourself that you’ve done something – even if that something were entirely inadequate and you still have in fact a house that is made of cardboard, not solid at all.
Or you could in buying a house go to a reputable pest controller, like MacCotter Pest Control, get a thorough report done, understand what your risks are and decide based on openness and transparency as to whether or not to proceed.
Quite simply, the same is for international surrogacy – the most complex way known to humanity about how to conceive a child.
Not to get good quality legal advice from an Australian lawyer experienced in international surrogacy – before you go overseas is quite simply dangerous. You might be committing a criminal offence that you didn’t know existed. You might go to a dodgy agency. You might pay far too much.
There is a lot of information out on the internet. Much of it is inaccurate and may not apply in your circumstances.
If you wouldn’t take the risk when you buy a home, why would you take a similar risk when spending a large amount of money, putting your heart on the line and having a baby through international surrogacy?