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ABC TV – Stateline Victoria – "Government considering widespread remorms to the state’s IVF and surrogancy laws" by Cheryl Hall

April 27, 2007 Leave a comment


Transcript – Stateline Victoria – “Government considering widespread remorms to the state’s IVF and surrogancy laws” by Cheryl Hall

JACKIE ROBINSON, MOTHER: What better proof do you need, apart from looking at them. You can tell they’re certainly —

BRETT ROBINSON, FATHER: If you look at them, you can tell they’re ours.

JACKIE ROBINSON: Certainly Brett’s.

BRETT ROBINSON: Chad’s more like me and Todd’s more like you.

CHERYL HALL, REPORTER: Brett and Jackie Robinson are the proud parents of twin boys, Chad and Todd. Using their own eggs and sperm, the boys were conceived through IVF. But as Jackie Robinson has explained to her sons, they were carried by a friend who acted as a surrogate mother.

JACKIE ROBINSON: Belinda, bless her, she was absolutely fantastic in what she’s done for us. Her whole idea was just to help us out to become a family and she did a fantastic job and she said that’s where it stops. When the boys are born, they’re ours and for us to raise as we see fit.

BRETT ROBINSON: We can’t thank her enough for what they’ve done. That’s great. We’re very happy.

CHERYL HALL: But the complications began even before the boys were born.

JACKIE ROBINSON: We were originally under the impression that Brett was going to be allowed to be on the birth certificate and we thought with that, we can later have me added. That didn’t worry us, just so long as one of us was on the birth certificate to start with was great. Then we found out, after Belinda was already pregnant, or carrying the boys, that they had to be a legally married couple to even go into the process, so from that day on Mark’s name is on it and neither of us got a look in.

CHERYL HALL: Under Victorian law it’s the surrogate mother, the woman who gives birth, who is listed as the mother on the birth certificate, and her husband is listed as the father. It’s created endless problems for Jackie and Brett Robinson, who have no legal parenting rights over their sons.

JACKIE ROBINSON: I actually found out when one of my boys was going in to have his tonsils out and I was just discussing with the nurse as we were carrying him in to be anaesthetized. I was saying to the nurse the size of the boys and she said, “You must have been huge,” and I said, “I didn’t actually carry them,” and I explained to her that we had a wonderful surrogate who did that for us. She said, “Do you realise you can’t admit your boy in the hospital? You have to have the surrogate’s consent because she’s the legal mother.” That really spun me out then. I thought, “That can’t be right, they’re my boys.” If we ever need to apply for passports, we have to get Belinda’s consent on almost anything, which is not right. It’s crazy. The laws are crazy.

CHERYL HALL: There’s no doubt the Robinsons are the biological parents of Chad and Todd. They’ve even had DNA tests to prove it, but it changes nothing. The legal limbo created by the current laws isn’t limited to the traditional family unit. It also affects a growing community of gay and lesbian parents who have found ways to have children. Rodney and Jeff Chiang-Cruise spent $150,000 in the United States to have baby Ethan, through an anonymous egg donor and a surrogate mother.

JEFF CHIANG-CRUISE, PARENT: Before we had Ethan we socialised with other gay dads so we got a lot of ideas from them and got a lot of advice from them as well.

CHERYL HALL: What’s been the hardest bit?

JEFF CHIANG-CRUISE: Initially probably waking up (indistinct) but he’s being very good to us and he’s sleeping through the night for the last 1.5 months.

CHERYL HALL: One of them is the biological father; the surrogate mother is listed on the birth certificate as unknown. But the bureaucratic problems started once they arrived back in Melbourne.

RODNEY CHIANG-CRUISE, PARENT: One of us is the biological father of Ethan and one of us is the non-biological father of Ethan. The non-biological father has no parenting rights in Australia. It presents issues when applying for a passport. It could present issues if Ethan gets sick and needs medical treatment in hospital. We could be presented with problems there. But the biggest fear is if the biological father does die, Ethan actually has no parent at all, no relative at all under the law, even though he has another father.

CHERYL HALL: Rodney and Jeff Chiang-Cruise are planning to be the first couple on the City of Yarra’s new relationship register when it opens on 7 May. They hope the council register and the one being set up by the State Government will inadvertently help the non-biological parent to adopt Ethan by providing evidence a relationship exists. But that’s a move that will be opposed by the powerful Christian lobby. They support the relationship register, as long as it doesn’t mimic marriage and doesn’t open the door to adoption or parenting rights for same sex couples.

ROB WARD, AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN LOBBY: The register doesn’t allow that. That would be a consequential change to other acts like the Adoption Act and so on. We feel the best interests of the child might not be served in that situation.

CHERYL HALL: Why not?

ROB WARD: The evidence seems to be pretty clear that the best interests of a child are served by having a mother and a father present, and that would be the ideal that we would be aiming for.

CHERYL HALL: If the State Government follows the interim recommendations of the Law Reform Commission, Jackie and Brett Robinson will be recognised as parents, with the surrogate’s consent. But Rodney and Jeff Chiang-Cruise face bigger hurdles. Under the interim recommendations, they could have a child through altruistic surrogacy, but not commercial surrogacy. The Christian lobby is opposing both.

ROB WARD: I would say that there is a great deal of sympathy for infertile couples – I’m talking here married, heterosexual couples. Let me make that distinction really clear. There is a great deal of sympathy for people who are infertile. I’m not quite sure that we’re ready to rush down the road and to open the door, if you like, to surrogacy for all. Certainly not for homosexual couples.

CHERYL HALL: Can you say what you think would be best for the child in this situation?

ROB WARD: Firstly for it not to have happened. This couple, and perhaps others like them, are making a deliberate choice, a conscious decision, to bring about a child that doesn’t have proper parents in the normal sense. One wonders, down the track, what the future for that child might be, how confused that child might be about who its mother was, who its father is.

CHERYL HALL: Rodney and Jeff Chiang-Cruise believe the community is ready to accept gay and lesbian families.

RODNEY CHIANG-CRUISE: We’ve had nothing but positive experiences. The community looks at a family and it doesn’t matter what shape it is, and if it’s happy and they see the kids are looked after and loved, that’s what matters.
: What better proof do you need, apart from looking at them. You can tell they’re certainly —

BRETT ROBINSON: If you look at them, you can tell they’re ours.

JACKIE ROBINSON: Certainly Brett’s.

BRETT ROBINSON: Chad’s more like me and Todd’s more like you.

CHERYL HALL: Brett and Jackie Robinson are the proud parents of twin boys, Chad and Todd. Using their own eggs and sperm, the boys were conceived through IVF. But as Jackie Robinson has explained to her sons, they were carried by a friend who acted as a surrogate mother.

JACKIE ROBINSON: Belinda, bless her, she was absolutely fantastic in what she’s done for us. Her whole idea was just to help us out to become a family and she did a fantastic job and she said that’s where it stops. When the boys are born, they’re ours and for us to raise as we see fit.

BRETT ROBINSON: We can’t thank her enough for what they’ve done. That’s great. We’re very happy.

CHERYL HALL: But the complications began even before the boys were born.

JACKIE ROBINSON: We were originally under the impression that Brett was going to be allowed to be on the birth certificate and we thought with that, we can later have me added. That didn’t worry us, just so long as one of us was on the birth certificate to start with was great. Then we found out, after Belinda was already pregnant, or carrying the boys, that they had to be a legally married couple to even go into the process, so from that day on Mark’s name is on it and neither of us got a look in.

CHERYL HALL: Under Victorian law it’s the surrogate mother, the woman who gives birth, who is listed as the mother on the birth certificate, and her husband is listed as the father. It’s created endless problems for Jackie and Brett Robinson, who have no legal parenting rights over their sons.

JACKIE ROBINSON: I actually found out when one of my boys was going in to have his tonsils out and I was just discussing with the nurse as we were carrying him in to be anaesthetized. I was saying to the nurse the size of the boys and she said, “You must have been huge,” and I said, “I didn’t actually carry them,” and I explained to her that we had a wonderful surrogate who did that for us. She said, “Do you realise you can’t admit your boy in the hospital? You have to have the surrogate’s consent because she’s the legal mother.” That really spun me out then. I thought, “That can’t be right, they’re my boys.” If we ever need to apply for passports, we have to get Belinda’s consent on almost anything, which is not right. It’s crazy. The laws are crazy.

CHERYL HALL: There’s no doubt the Robinsons are the biological parents of Chad and Todd. They’ve even had DNA tests to prove it, but it changes nothing. The legal limbo created by the current laws isn’t limited to the traditional family unit. It also affects a growing community of gay and lesbian parents who have found ways to have children. Rodney and Jeff Chiang-Cruise spent $150,000 in the United States to have baby Ethan, through an anonymous egg donor and a surrogate mother.

JEFF CHIANG-CRUISE: Before we had Ethan we socialised with other gay dads so we got a lot of ideas from them and got a lot of advice from them as well.

CHERYL HALL: What’s been the hardest bit?

JEFF CHIANG-CRUISE: Initially probably waking up (indistinct) but he’s being very good to us and he’s sleeping through the night for the last 1.5 months.

CHERYL HALL: One of them is the biological father; the surrogate mother is listed on the birth certificate as unknown. But the bureaucratic problems started once they arrived back in Melbourne.

RODNEY CHIANG-CRUISE: One of us is the biological father of Ethan and one of us is the non-biological father of Ethan. The non-biological father has no parenting rights in Australia. It presents issues when applying for a passport. It could present issues if Ethan gets sick and needs medical treatment in hospital. We could be presented with problems there. But the biggest fear is if the biological father does die, Ethan actually has no parent at all, no relative at all under the law, even though he has another father.

CHERYL HALL: Rodney and Jeff Chiang-Cruise are planning to be the first couple on the City of Yarra’s new relationship register when it opens on 7 May. They hope the council register and the one being set up by the State Government will inadvertently help the non-biological parent to adopt Ethan by providing evidence a relationship exists. But that’s a move that will be opposed by the powerful Christian lobby. They support the relationship register, as long as it doesn’t mimic marriage and doesn’t open the door to adoption or parenting rights for same sex couples.

ROB WARD: The register doesn’t allow that. That would be a consequential change to other acts like the Adoption Act and so on. We feel the best interests of the child might not be served in that situation.

CHERYL HALL: Why not?

ROB WARD: The evidence seems to be pretty clear that the best interests of a child are served by having a mother and a father present, and that would be the ideal that we would be aiming for.

CHERYL HALL: If the State Government follows the interim recommendations of the Law Reform Commission, Jackie and Brett Robinson will be recognised as parents, with the surrogate’s consent. But Rodney and Jeff Chiang-Cruise face bigger hurdles. Under the interim recommendations, they could have a child through altruistic surrogacy, but not commercial surrogacy. The Christian lobby is opposing both.

ROB WARD: I would say that there is a great deal of sympathy for infertile couples – I’m talking here married, heterosexual couples. Let me make that distinction really clear. There is a great deal of sympathy for people who are infertile. I’m not quite sure that we’re ready to rush down the road and to open the door, if you like, to surrogacy for all. Certainly not for homosexual couples.

CHERYL HALL: Can you say what you think would be best for the child in this situation?

ROB WARD: Firstly for it not to have happened. This couple, and perhaps others like them, are making a deliberate choice, a conscious decision, to bring about a child that doesn’t have proper parents in the normal sense. One wonders, down the track, what the future for that child might be, how confused that child might be about who its mother was, who its father is.

CHERYL HALL: Rodney and Jeff Chiang-Cruise believe the community is ready to accept gay and lesbian families.

RODNEY CHIANG-CRUISE: We’ve had nothing but positive experiences. The community looks at a family and it doesn’t matter what shape it is, and if it’s happy and they see the kids are looked after and loved, that’s what matters.

[Link: ABC Transcript]

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Northcote Leader – "Gay parents’ parity plea"

April 25, 2007 Leave a comment

LESBIANS across Darebin have made a desperate plea for the legal recognition of non-biological parents .

Their personal stories are included in a Victorian Law Reform Commission submission made to Attorney-General Rob Hulls last month.

Mr Hulls has until June 20 to table the report on Assisted Reproductive Technology and Adoption.

In its draft submissions, the commission recommends that the law be changed to recognise the birth mother’s female partner as a parent of the child. It also recommends same-sex couples have equal access to the technology and be legally entitled to engage surrogate mothers.

Women’s Health in the North deputy chair Susan Rennie said the organisation broadly supported the interim recommendations.

“Law reform will be beneficial to children born in these (same-sex) relationships because it will mean, at least from a legal point of view, that their families will cease to be considered differently to other families in the community,” she said.

Ms Rennie, a lesbian in a relationship with two children, said women did not seek medical help for fear of breaking the laws.

“If a woman thinks she is breaking the law by self-inseminating she might not consult her doctor and may be less inclined to ask a donor to undertake appropriate medical tests,” she said.

Preston couple Felicity and Sarah Marlowe were so concerned by the implication of the law that they started a lobby group, Love Makes a Family, in 2004.

“We started a campaign to mobilise the community around law reform; seeking legal and social recognition of rainbow families,” Felicity said.

They now have 170 members on their email list and have made a formal submission to the commission also broadly supporting the recommendations.

Other locals who made submissions include Northcote couple Vivien Ray and Robin Gregory; parents of a teenage daughter conceived by donor insemination.

“It would make a great difference to us if the non-biological parent could do a second parent adoption,” they said. “It would be such a relief after all these years to be legally recognised.”

Preston’s Sabdha Charlton says her partner Cristina Pink is six months pregnant with their first child. They feel strongly that the law should not differentiate between hetero and homosexual couples.

* Should same-sex couples be given the same legal rights as hetero couples? Write to the editor at http://www.northcoteleader.com.au

Sydney Star Observer – "Gay Men Redefining Fatherhood" by Sunny Burns

April 10, 2007 Leave a comment

Every day gay fathers face negative social reactions. But despite the stigmas they’re now vital figures in the ongoing redefinition of fatherhood.

Author Theresa Miller is such a believer in this brave new parenting direction she has included a section on it in her new book Making Babies.

The book tells the personal memoirs of 14 different IVF users and gives insight into an array of topics from egg harvesting to blastocyst transferral.

IVF now accounts for three percent of all births in Australia, and with the push for children in the gay and lesbian community, Miller believes this figure will only continue to rise.

Gay father and doctor Jason, whose story is featured in Making Babies, said he wanted the gay community to know it could have children – and that it is one of the most rewarding opportunities in life.

“I always had this feeling that I wanted to have children,” he said. “I wanted to pass on things to a child like a sense of knowledge – nothing material.”

Jason said it was after watching a documentary on gay parenting that he was inspired to fulfil his life-long dream.

“I went on the internet and found this particular website on surrogacy and eventually flew over to Los Angeles and put a deposit down and that was it,” he said.

“My partner wasn’t very supportive at first because it never came to his mind that he could have children and he thought that I wouldn’t go through with it.

“Once the surrogate got pregnant he became very supportive and we flew to the US for the ultrasound and labour.”

The process wasn’t cheap, costing around $200,000, but the result was a gorgeous baby girl and an ongoing relationship with the surrogate mother.

“She’s just turned one and it’s going very well. And rewarding,” he said. “I hope people read the book and know that they do have the choice and don’t have to give up.”

Despite the joys and success of the program, Jason said he is still disappointed he was unable to explore the surrogacy option in Australia.

“The only regret I have is that it’s illegal to do it in Australia and it cost so much,” he said.

“This is unfair for people who don’t have the funds – we need to push for this so it’s available for everyone.”

As well as the book, Jason said there were extensive support networks around the country for gay couples with children or who want to have them.

“There’s a support group called Gay Dads,” Jason said. “It’s a diverse group of people who have gone through similar situations. There are about 10 couples in my group and we all keep in touch.”

Making Babies is out now, RRP $29.95. For more details on Gay Dads, check the website on http://www.gaydadsaustralia.com.

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: gay, surrogacy

The Age – "Baby Ethan a priceless ‘gift’ worth every cent" by Carol Nadar


IT’S hard to tell who baby Ethan’s biological father is. And that’s the way his parents, Rodney and Jeff Chiang-Cruise, intended it to be.

The Melbourne couple recently returned from Ohio with their three-month old son, who was conceived in the US through a surrogacy arrangement.

They used two egg donors. Sperm from Rodney, who is Caucasian, was used to create an embryo with an Asian donor’s egg. Sperm from Jeff, who has an Asian background, was fertilised with a Caucasian donor’s egg. Both embryos were implanted into the surrogate, Kelly.

If both embryos were successful, the men would each be the biological parent of a twin.

If one was successful — as it turned out — the child would at least have physical traits from both their backgrounds.

A DNA test after Ethan’s birth confirmed who the biological father is. But that information, they say, is for Ethan to know.

Their son will never know, however, the identity of his biological mother.

Australian gay couples are increasingly seeking surrogacy arrangements in the US to fulfil their parental dreams.

To meet the $150,000 cost of conceiving Ethan, of which up to a quarter went to the surrogate, Rodney and Jeff remortgaged their house. Rodney says it is “just really shitty” that loving couples have to travel to become parents.

The Law Reform Commission says gay and lesbian couples and single women should have equal access to surrogacy as others.

Rodney says conservative opponents such as the Catholic Church should direct their energy into caring for neglected or abused children living in conventional families.

“They should stop worrying about people who are creating families out of love,” he says.

Rodney is comfortable with the commercial aspect of Ethan’s conception. The surrogate made some money, but she already had her own family.

“This was a gift that she wanted to share with somebody else.”

[Link: Original Article]

Channel 10 – The Catch Up – "Same Sex, Same Rights"

Same Sex, Same Rights? Gay Parents & Adoption – Gay parents Jason and Adrian Tuazon-McCheyne discuss laws regarding same-sex couples and adoption in Australia.
Same Sex, Same Rights? Gay Parents & Adoption
Same Sex, Same Rights? Gay Parents & Adoption