Surrogacy Lessons After 25 Years
In this video, Page Provan Family & Fertility Lawyers’ Director Stephen Page shares his 25 years of experience helping clients with their Surrogacy matters.
G’day, I’m Stephen Page from Page Proven Family and Fertility Lawyers. I’m talking to you today about what I’ve learnt from the surrogacy cases that I’ve had.
Now, to put this in numbers, my best guess is that I’ve advised in over seventeen-hundred surrogacy journeys. Now, most of those clients are couples. So about half of them are straight married couples, about half of them are gay couples, and then there are a few single men, a few single women, and I’ve had one journey that I’ve been involved with, which was a man and a trans woman as a couple, and a couple of pairs of lesbians.
You wouldn’t think that lesbians would ever need to undertake surrogacy, but sometimes life is cruel, and like everyone else they want to have children, and surrogacy is the option of last resort.
So what have I learnt? Surrogacy is the most complex way to have a baby, no doubt about it. If you could just have sex for the night and have a child that way, well, why on earth would you talk to a lawyer like me? You just wouldn’t. It’s just really straightforward, away you go. But for some people, there’s no other option.
If you look at straight couples, typically, surrogacy will be option D because, option A evidently will be sex, option B will be IVF, option C will be egg donation, and option D, therefore, is surrogacy. Not everyone is the same. Some women, unfortunately, are born without a uterus or have a hysterectomy. So they don’t even talk about those options if they’ve only got the one. But for most straight couples, it’s straight into surrogacy after option D.
For gay couples, it’s self evident that it’s the only option available. What I’ve learnt, for example, is that surrogates in the United States would rather be a surrogate to a gay couple than a straight couple. Why? It seems counter intuitive. Why wouldn’t a woman rather be a straight surrogate for another woman who can’t have a child?
Well, saying the obvious, a gay couple, no matter how many times they try, with sex will never produce a child. So a woman comes along and says, I will be your surrogate. So what are they going to do? They’re going to say, you are our goddess, you can enable us to have a child, you can give us the gift of life.
This is an extraordinary action on your part. So they’re worshiping this woman for what she can do. Some straight couples have a very painful journey by the time they get to surrogacy, they may have endured endless rounds of IVF, as well as try naturally, of course.
I think the highest number I ever had was a couple who did 28 cycles of IVF, and each one of those is like the roller coaster, up you go, and then down the other side when it doesn’t work, crashing. Imagine doing that 28 times, what that would do to your soul, and for women who’ve been through this journey, where their sisters and their friends have all had children, they’ve turned up to X number of parties where their friends and sisters and cousins have been pregnant or had children, the children have grown up, and all that is talked about is the children.
In the meantime, they’re having this slow suffocation, this slow death. Of, what’s wrong with me? Why has God cursed me so? Why can’t I have a child? And so what then happens? Well, the risk is that when a woman comes along and says, I will be your surrogate, that the intended mother then micromanages that surrogate.
Now, if you are a prospective surrogate and you got a choice between a couple who say, I worship at your altar and say that you are the best ever, and aren’t we so lucky to have you in our lives because you’re giving us the gift of life, and someone who has the potential to make your life absolutely miserable, who are you going to choose? You’re going to choose the former, of course.
One of the things I’ve learnt is to make sure that you don’t micromanage the surrogate. It’s not just a human transaction, it’s something much more than that. This woman is giving you the gift of life. Appreciate this amazing stress and risk that she is taking for you. She has an extraordinary chance of dying on your behalf, just like any other woman who gets pregnant and gives birth.
The risk of death through childbirth is much higher than standing out in a field and getting hit by lightning and yet we all worry about that. These are some of the things I’ve learnt from surrogacy. Appreciate those who give you the gift of life, whether it’s an egg donor or a sperm donor or a surrogate.
Cherish them, look after them. Make sure that you recognise that this is an amazing human journey and not merely a transaction, and if you get those things right, the rest of it, no matter how easy or how difficult it is, will go smoothly.