Archive for September, 2008

Melbourne Leader – "The Money that did Buy Happiness" by Hamish Heard

September 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Nearly two years ago the dream of parenthood became a reality for gay Richmond couple Rodney Cruise and Jeff Chiang.

Taking out a $120,000 mortgage on their home seemed a tiny price to pay for the birth of their son, Ethan Chiang-Cruise, who arrived in January last year.

It all started in 2005.

“Jeff and I had been together for about 5 years and we both desperately wanted to have a child”, Mr Cruise said.

After watching a documentary about one of the first gay Melbourne couples to parent a child using an overseas surrogate mother, the couple engaged a surrogacy agent in California.

The agent soon introduced the pair to Kelly, a woman from a small town in Ohio who agreed to carry an embryo fertilised using a donor egg and sperm from Mr Chiang or Mr Cruise.

“We immediately became very good friends with Kelly and three months after we met she had her first IVF cycle and got pregnant straight away,” Mr Cruise said.

Mr Chiang has an Asian background and the pair, not wanting to fight over who was the biological father, used two egg donors.

One egg was from a Caucasian donor and the other had an Asian background, ensuring the child would be Eurasian regardless of its biological father.

“We haven’t told anyone who the biological father is because that is something for Ethan to find out when he’s older,” Mr Cruise said.

Mr Cruise, 41, is a lawyer and Mr Chiang, 39, works in IT.

“It’s impossible to describe the joy and excitement of seeing Ethan grow from this little baby into a toddler and learning to speak and walk, ” Mr Cruise said.

“All parents have the same feeling.  He’s the apple of our eye,” he said.

Mr Cruise said the pair did not see their family structure as unusual.

“Things are changing and we know that Ethan is growing up in an environment that is not special., it’s just one of the varieties that exists.”


Stonnington Leader – "Offshore surrogacy hot topic at Prahran forum" by Kate Bruce-Rosser

September 30, 2008 Leave a comment

GAY men are looking to India to pursue the dream of parenthood, Gay Dads Victoria says.

A surrogacy forum in Prahran tonight will explain how the country is the “new growth region” for gay singles and couples seeking fatherhood through surrogacy.

But the Australian Family Association says surrogacy “flat out denies children basic human rights”.

Gay Dads spokesman Rodney Cruise said gay men had the same desire to be fathers as straight men.

Would-be fathers used to go to the US and Canada, where commercial surrogacy was legal but expensive, he said. Paid surrogacy is banned in Australia.

“The surrogacy industry in India is mature and well-regulated,” Mr Cruise said.

“The lower costs mean the option to create a family has opened up to a much larger number of gay men.”

Surrogacy costs about $120,000 in North America compared with $40,000 in India, he said.

The Australian Family Association opposed surrogacy, AFA researcher Tim Cannon said.

“We understand lots of people want to have children, including gay men, but we believe surrogacy flat out denies children basic human rights,” he said.

Surrogate children were deprived of knowing both biological parents, which could lead to identity crises, he said.

Mr Cruise and his partner, Jeff Chiang, have a 21-month-old son, Ethan, “the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life”.

“Gay (couples) are capable of providing all the love required to raise children,” Mr Cruise said.

Mr Cannon said the AFA was also concerned about “exploited” Indian women who “rented out” their wombs.

Mr Cruise said this was “unfair” and “patronising”, assuming women in India were less capable than Western women of informed choices.

Indian women were screened to ensure they understood the nature of surrogacy, and only mothers could be surrogates, he said.

About 40 gay couples in Victoria have had surrogate children, and many of them in Stonnington, Mr Cruise said.

Forum inquiries:

[Link: Original Article ]

The Age – "The Surrogacy Journey Must be Respected" by Jenny Sinclair

September 16, 2008 Leave a comment

Victoria’s legislation promises ethical and medical support.

WHEN the Victorian Government finally tabled its legislation for assisted reproductive technology last week, legal surrogate pregnancy came one step closer, along with access to IVF for gays, lesbians and single people.

Both major parties have said they will allow a conscience vote on the legislation, which is based on an extensive Law Reform Commission process.

While the MPs examine their consciences, they might like to consider what’s gone on in mine, and those of people like me, over the past four years. That’s how long I’ve been waiting for those documents to hit the table in Spring Street. Four years ago this November, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news came on the first birthday of my son, himself an IVF baby. Our plans for a second child were thrown into disarray as I plunged into

surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and long-term hormonal treatment. But unlike many women with cancer, I was lucky enough to already have eight embryos in storage from my IVF treatment. The door remained open.

Those embryos, stored in a supercooled vat in East Melbourne, have been hostages to the political process ever since. (The commission began looking at the issue way back in June 2002.)

My treatment — and the continuing doubt over the role of hormones in triggering a recurrence — put a five-year and possibly permanent bar on my carrying a baby myself. As the mother of a small child, I don’t have the right to increase the risk to my life; I have a duty to survive. But I was getting older — I’m now 42 — and the gap between my son and any siblings was growing daily.

Surrogacy seemed like the obvious solution, but as the Law Reform Commission observed, Victoria’s laws were inconsistent to say the least. A surrogate would have to be infertile herself, with an infertile partner, and technically, moving the embryos interstate or overseas for treatment would be illegal if the purpose of the move was surrogacy.

If the legislation now before the State Parliament passes, I will be able, if I can find the right person, to “commission” a surrogate pregnancy — to bring one of those frozen embryos into the light legally.

But even when the new laws take effect, I’m not sure that I’ll do it. Because I have, in reality, had the option of surrogacy all along.

For those four years, I’ve been noticing something: even with the laws as they are, people do it. A gay male Victorian couple who took a filmmaker to the US to document their “journey” did it (and have gone back for a second child). A senior federal Labor senator and his wife went from Victoria to NSW to do it, although their particular circumstances differed from mine.

People do it all the time: people with money, that is. Paid surrogacy is a reality in not only the United States, but in shadier operations in Eastern Europe and the Third World. And on the altruistic side, some women are carrying “traditional” surrogacies via self-insemination, often under the radar of the authorities. When it doesn’t require government resources and hospitals, you can get away with that.

My IVF experience, not to mention experiencing cancer, has taught me one thing: it’s futile to compare one person’s pain and needs with another’s. But when I think about using a surrogate — the usual term is “commission” but I can’t shy away from the knowledge that we’d be using another person to produce our child — I also think about the risks.

In Australia, surrogates are generally women who already have children, and I am all too aware of the horror of a child losing its mother. Under the proposed Victorian law, surrogates cannot be paid (apart from defined expenses), and while I would only want to work with someone who had altruistic reasons for helping me, I would, frankly, prefer to be able to pay some amount, if only to allow her to take enough time off work, to hire a cleaner, have help with her own kids, and to use private medical facilities.

Pregnancy is hard work. This is not Baby Mama: this is real life.

What the proposed Victorian legislation does is to recognise that surrogacy is something that is already happening, and to bring it into our excellent assisted reproductive technology system, with its ethics committees, dedicated counsellors and stringent medical standards.

But the decision to be, or commission, a surrogate, will still be made one person at a time.

The proposed laws will open up access to assisted reproductive technology, not just to married heterosexuals like us, but to gays, lesbians and single people. I welcome this because I believe they have the right to that access, and I welcome it all the more because their battle has become my battle too.

At some level, too, I am pleased that this Government, after years of this issue being on the backburner, has had the political will to reject the campaigners who tried to dog-whistle homophobia by focusing on the “gay IVF” angle and pushing my family’s situation, and those of other heterosexual families, aside.

Conscience, as the MPs well know, is an individual thing. Allowing people to act according to their consciences is to treat them as adults, and adults who can be trusted to make the right decision. The lower house of the Victorian Parliament has already paid Victorian women and their partners this compliment in regard to abortion law reform. When it comes to deciding on surrogacy, I look forward to the honourable members extending the same respect to me, my husband and to others in our situation.

Jenny Sinclair is a Melbourne writer.

[Link: Original Article]

Australian Gay & Lesbian Law Blog – "QLD: Fatherhood Just Got More Interesting" by Stephen Page

September 15, 2008 Leave a comment

Stephen Page from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia is a partner with Harrington Family Lawyers, Brisbane, a long established boutique family law firm. He writes a wonderful blog called “Australian Gay and Lesbian Law Blog. [Ed – Rodney Cruise]

Back in May I posted about how Queensland Attorney Kerry Shine was seeking to amend the Status of Children Act so that the position of IVF dads becamse clear- if they were to donate sperm to single mums or a lesbian couple, then they would not be dads in law.

I had chased up Kerry Shine’s office- twice- as to whether the proposed changes would cover men offering sperm to their female friends, but my calls were not returned and I was none the wiser.

Last week a friend told me that he was considering donating sperm via a website: . He ultimately had second thoughts.

At the time that Kerry Shine made the announcement, he considered that part of the reason for making the changes was so that sperm donors to IVF women would not be fathers and therefore would not be required to pay child support. He proposed that the laws be retrospective to 1988- when the Status of Children Act was enacted!

Because of my friend’s situation, I looked over the weekend, and found that tucked in at the back of the Guardianship and Administration and Other Acts Amendment Bill were these proposed changes.

So what do they mean? If enacted, the Bill would make ensure that if a woman other than a married woman were to have a child by a sperm donor- if she were to go through IVF, then the donor will NOT be the father and will never have the rights of fatherhood unless and until he marries her. It doesn’t matter if the woman and the man agree that he is to have those rights- that agreement is irrelevant.

However, if the man donates sperm to the mother other than through IVF, then it is possible that he might be considered to be the father, in which case there would be certain rights under the Family Law Act, including the presumption of equal parental responsibility, and the obligation to pay child support.

Although there are two decisions of the Family Court which in part dealt with Victorian legislation which would suggest that the known sperm donor would not be a father or parent under the Family Law Act and under child support legislation, there is no guarantee that that court will follow the same approach with the Queensland legislation, especially when the Attorney expressly stated that part of the purpose of the legislation was so that donors would not have to pay child support. If the legislation that he is proposing does not include known donations other than via IVF, then this of itself raises the possibility that known donors other than through IVF might be treated as fathers and liable to pay child support (and seek to make decisions about the child and spend time with the child, maybe even equal time, relying on the Family Law Act).

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: gay, IVF, Sperm Donor

MCV – "Community Spotlight – Parenthood: Doug’s Story"

September 10, 2008 Leave a comment

In Sepember 2005, my partner Brett and I started discussing the possibility of having a family through surrogacy.  We’d mentioned it in conversation from time to time but never really looked at it closely, until one day over lunch we decided to try and find out how it was done.  For us, what followed was weeks of discussion, soul searching, agaonising but amazingly, not one argument.  the discussion went from “Why not have ids? We would eb great Dads? We can do it.  You only live once”.

Then came: “This is ridiculous. Are we nuts? Our life will be over.  We can’t get to dinner on time let alone raise children.”  The pro-family argument won out, and on August 21, 2005 we go the ball rolling (not to mention the bank account reducing!).

After initially being matched with a surrogate (who we later decided against for various reasons) we set about searching for an Egg Donor.  Just imagine trying to choose who will be the biological ‘other half’ of your child/children – very difficult.  After obtaining access to three separate websites loaded with a plethora of prospective donors, we chose our donor.  We went for a donor who had donated previously, as we wanted to reduce the risk of gettin ‘poor quality eggs’ which may result in limited or poor quality embryos.   After a few false starts with surrogates we were sent a profile on March 16, 2006 of our surrogate Anna and her family in Houston, Texas.  After a phone call match we decided that were were happy with Anna and her family the they with us.

Then followed a very emotional, stressful, exciting and exhausting time.

At last, out twins, Daniel and Leah were born on January 24, 2007.  We are enjoying being parents very much and wonder what we did with our life before….we certainly had more sleep.  I know that!  Good luck to all who go down the surrogacy path.  yes – it is worth it.

MCV – "Rainbow Families "Fictional"

September 10, 2008 Leave a comment

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) described families headed by same-sex couples as “biological fiction,” last week.

In a media statement, the ACL said that while they support the basic intent of the Government’s same-sex law reform bill, they’re adamant its aims be achieved without redefining parenthood and children.

“Biology says it takes a man and a woman to produce a child. We should not be writing biological fiction into Commonwealth legislation,” said ACL Chief of Staff Lyle Shelton.

In response, Rodney Croome of the Australian Coalition for Equality said: “It’s time for the law to recognise that it’s love that makes a family, not gender or sexual orientation.”

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: Rodney Croome

MCV – "Rainbow Families Win" by Rachel Cook

September 10, 2008 Leave a comment

The State Government introduced new laws on assisted reproductive treatment (ART) and surrogacy on Tuesday, which will bring Victoria into line with other states.

Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls said in a media statement that “the overarching objective of the reforms was to protect the best interests of children born using such treatment”.

“Families come in all shapes and sizes and always have. We want to ensure that regardless of family structure, a child born through a surrogacy arrangement, to a single mother or to a same-sex couple receives the same legal protections as others.

“These reforms provide a legal framework for what is already occurring in the community,” Hulls said.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission, which recommended the changes, found that parental capacity was based on good parenting skills rather than relationship status or sexual orientation.

The new laws will ensure Victoria’s laws are compatible with Federal discrimination laws by providing that women can gain access to assisted reproductive treatment regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation.

The laws will also ensure stronger legal protection for children by giving legal recognition to the commissioning parents in a surrogacy arrangement, or the female partner of a child’s mother.

The Rainbow Families Council, which represents the interests of same-sex parents and their children, has welcomed the new laws.

“This is a step towards law reform that recognises our children and families legally and socially,” said spokesperson Felicity Marlowe.

Although the legislation will be the subject of a conscience vote in the state parliament, Marlowe told MCV she is confident it will be passed.

“I think it will get through on the recommendations that this is in the best interest for children and families in Victoria,” she said.

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: Felicity Marlowe, IVF, Lesbian