Surrogacy refers to an arrangement for a woman to become pregnant and give birth to a child for another couple or single person, with the intention of giving that child to the couple/person one they are born.

Types of surrogacy

There are two types of surrogacy: gestational and traditional.

Gestational surrogacy is when the surrogate has a fertilised embryo transferred into her. The embryo is the product of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) using the sperm and egg of the intended parents, however gay men and single people can also use donated eggs or sperm. A gestational surrogate has no genetic contribution to the child they are carrying. Gestational surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy arrangements in Australia.

Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate herself is with the sperm of the intended father, usually through artificial insemination. A traditional surrogate provides the egg, so she does provide a genetic contribution to the child she is carrying.

Altruistic surrogacy

A surrogate does not receive any financial payment or other reward for acting as a surrogate in an altruistic agreement. She is however, reimbursed for any medical expenses and general costs associated to the pregnancy by the intended parent/s.

Altruistic surrogacy is legal in Australia, although some states have strict regulations.

Commercial surrogacy

A surrogate does receive financial payment or other reward for acting as a surrogate in a commercial agreement, as well as reimbursment for any medical expenses and general costs associated to the pregnancy by the intended parent/s.

Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia, and some states have legislation in place that restricts residents from entering into a commercial surrogacy arrangement overseas. Intended parent/s who have difficulty establishing connections for surrogacy within Australia often enter into commercial arrangements overseas.

Who acts as a surrogate?

Surprisingly, many women can and do act as a surrogate. These women have an overwhelming desire to help others experience the joys of parenthood and growing families, and don’t fit the stereotype often portrayed in contemporary media. Some women have finished having their own families, while others may decide to continue to have more children of their own in future.

How does a surrogate feel about giving up the child?

Overwhelmingly, surrogates have little difficulty handing the child they have carried back to the intended parent/s and research carried out by the Family and Child Psychology Research Centre at City University, London, UK in 2002 and 2006 supports this. Contemporary media about surrogacy often focus on the problems that can arise and conflicts that make popcorn worthy viewing, but in reality this rarely happens. The majority of surrogacy arrangements end without issues, with both the intending parent/s and the surrogate completing their journey together feeling satisfied and fulfilled.

What sort of Australians use surrogacy?

People turn to surrogacy as a means to have a family for a variety of reasons. Some may be heterosexual women who are unable to carry a pregnancy safely or who have had a hysterectomy; some may be a single or partnered gay man.

Additionally, as adoption within contemporary Australian society is becoming more restrictive and progressively unavailable, couples and single people may wish to avoid the process or domestic or international adoption. Adoption in Australia, with the exceptions of certain states, is currently not an option available to gay male couples.