Archive for December, 2008

Christmas with Debbie, Lin & Justin

December 27, 2008 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

Christmas Day at Dean & Lyn’s House

December 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Christmas Day was at my brother’s place. Dean and Lyn as usual put on a great day which was complimented by great weather. Of course, Ethan was the centre of attention and is just starting to get the whole idea of presents. He had a lot of fun watering the garden with his new watering can.

Categories: Uncategorized

Southern Star – "From Diesel and Dolce to PJs and puzzles" by Peter Cross

December 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Last Monday we went to some friends’ place for dinner.

Normally this isn’t newsworthy but over a year ago Matt and Peter fostered two boys, T and J, brothers in need of love and stability. When they were going through the process we all said, “isn’t that wonderful, what a great thing to do … are they mad!” None of us thought through the implications and responsibilities. I don’t think even Matt and Peter did.

We turned up for dinner at their beautifully restored New York-style high ceilinged,inner city apartment. What once was a room of clear surfaces and clean lines was now an obstacle course of puzzles, Bob the Builder, toys and plastic children’s chairs. Flannelette pyjamas versus Abercrombie and Fitch. It’s gone from Sex and the City to Malcolm in the Middle. It feels and smells like a family home now. Dinner was in the oven, two tables were set, one for the boys and one for the “old” boys.

Matt and Peter have taken two brothers, both under ten, who’ve had a tough time of it, and provided them with a safe environment where they are experiencing nurturing and love for possibly the first time in their short lives. This is an act of total selflessness.

After the boys had been fed and bathed, “Grandpa” Michael read them a bedtime story and when they were safely tucked up in their beds, the adults sat down to dinner. I asked Peter and Matt how they were coping.

Their lives have changed dramatically. Things that were once important are now irrelevant. No more smart restaurants and opening nights — now it’s soccer practice and parent-teacher meetings. Lazy Sunday mornings reading the paper in bed are a fond memory when you have two Energiser bunnies waking up at dawn and wanting to rumble. The boys don’t know the meaning of downtime.

None of it’s easy. It’s a constant twenty-four hour seven day a week focus. It’s made Matt and Peter a much stronger couple who talk and more importantly, listen to each other. They have a common purpose outside of themselves, something much bigger than their own needs.

I cannot imagine where they have found the resources to achieve what they have. There’s been no nine-month pregnancy preparation. The boys landed fully formed and damaged in their laps. There have been hard times when it has seemed overwhelming. Peter travels a lot for work and T and J have not been easy. As Matt said one night, “Mommy Dearest only tells one side of the story”. He was joking but I think at that stage he was lost in the enormity of this force that has taken over his life. And yet both of them have maintained and grown their own careers.

The boys’ lives have changed dramatically as well, from abuse and anger to love and compassion. They had been shunted from one home to another. Now at last they have stability.

There is a photo of J pinned to a once-pristine beam of hardwood in the lounge room; it shows a clear-eyed, open-faced soulful child staring straight into the lens of the camera. There is no artifice, no agenda and no lie in his eyes as he stares back at you. The photo was taken on one of the first days when J felt safe enough to again look anyone directly in the face. He was so used to seeing anger, judgement and threat, now he saw love and security. It’s one of the most moving pictures that I’ve ever seen.

The change in all four of these “boys” is enormous.

Matt and Peter don’t expect or seek approval for what they are doing. I know how embarrassed they will be when they read this. They don’t think of reward or recognition. They do it because they can’t not do it. They all have grown in so many ways not only as individuals but as a couple and as a family. They are still Peter and Matt but … more.

Now that’s a Christmas.

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: Foster Care

MCV – "2008: Year of Recognising Love" by Corey Irlam

December 23, 2008 Leave a comment

2008 was a historic year for the LGBTI community in Victoria. It was the year that the government recognised our love.

The government recognised our loving relationships through a state relationships register, a registration that will automatically be recognised by the 85 laws altered by the federal government to bring same-sex de facto relationships equal with heterosexuals’.

There is no more needing to prove interdependency through joint financial statements or photo albums: Victorians can now simply declare their relationship on the register and show their registration certificate as proof of their relationship.

Now, many will say this isn’t a major achievement, because it’s not equal to marriage laws. But relationship registers or civil unions are not designed to be a marriage substitute. They’re different and provide a choice of relationship recognition to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

We would call on the government to make changes soon to allow one partner to live outside the state. They should also automatically recognise a relationship created in the ACT, Tasmania or even the UK. But these small changes shouldn’t diminish the excitement many couples will feel knowing they have a way to formalise their relationship.

Perhaps the largest reforms in Victoria this year were that of equal parenting laws. Nationally, the government recognised both mummies as parents of their children.

In Victoria, changes to laws regulating artificial reproductive treatments were altered to allow single women and lesbian couples to have children through IVF. Laws also recognise two dads who enter into an altruistic surrogacy arrangement.

The government has yet to indicate what it will do regarding adoption laws, but hopefully they will take similar steps towards equality.

The changing of these laws will have long, lasting effects in Victoria. The equal treatment in law is often the first step to the equal treatment in society. So let’s celebrate our love, knowing that the government does, too. Maybe one day soon, society will as well.

Corey Irlam is spokesperson for the Australian Coalition for Equality.

[Link: Original Article ]

Categories: IVF, surrogacy

The Australian – "Gay Dad in Appeal to Find Son" by AAP

December 19, 2008 1 comment

A GAY father has launched an international appeal for help to find his son, whom he believes may be living in Australia.

Michael Turberville has not seen seven-year-old son Ashley Skinner since the child disappeared with his mother, Joanne Skinner, more than a year ago after a custody battle, British media reported today.

Mr Turberville pleaded with anyone who knew the boy’s whereabouts to alert authorities.

“It is gut-wrenching not to be able to see my son,” he told the Evening Standard newspaper.

Dual US-British citizen Mr Turberville reportedly fathered Ashley with Ms Skinner after advertising in another publication for a “like-minded” lesbian. Both parents were in same-sex relationships at the time.

Ms Skinner’s mother received a letter from her in April sent from the US, but Mr Turberville believes it was written in Australia and passed on to someone in America to post.

The letter said Ashley had started school.

The UK’s top family court judge, High Court family division president Sir Mark Potter, took the unusual step of lifting reporting restrictions which apply in children’s cases in hopes the publicity would help trace Ashley.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the Royal Courts of Justice in London on +44 207 947 6200.

[Link: Original Article ]

Categories: Co-Parenting, Sperm Donor

Geelong Advertisers – "EDITORIAL: Rights of the child get legal backing"

December 8, 2008 Leave a comment

THERE will no doubt be howls of protest from the traditionalists and church groups but new legislation in Victoria has finally given some certainty to families of same-sex couples.

Ostensibly, the legislation has granted single women and lesbians increased access to IVF technology but the essence of the Bill is to provide rights for the child.

It recognises the non-biological mother and father of a surrogate child as the legal parents and recognises the female partner of a woman as the joint parent of a child.

The fact that both members of a lesbian couple have now full legal rights is a major step forward. Before the Bill, only the natural birth mother had legal rights. Therefore the other partner in the relationship had no rights in which to help the child should the natural mother die. The child could not be included on her passport, could not be the beneficiary of her will, and the partner could not be privy to vital medical information.

The changes have been a long time coming. The legislation rewrites 20-year-old laws which were in danger of becoming redundant in today’s society and brings Victoria into line with other states.

Two weeks ago Federal Parliament passed new laws giving gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

Under the new laws, same-sex couples now have access to the same services as opposite-sex couples living together in “de facto” relationships.

Gays and lesbians will be allowed to get family benefits under the state-run health care program and to leave their retirement benefits to their partners if they die. The changes also confer parental rights on gay and lesbian couples with children.

While the laws give same-sex partners many of the same rights and protections as married couples, they stop short of allowing gays and lesbians to wed under the Marriage Act, which was redrawn by the Howard Government to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Society has changed drastically in the past 20 years.

Public opinion is changing and the numbers of same sex marriages are on the rise. In Australia same sex marriages represent 0.6 per cent of all marriages. The number is far higher for relationships outside marriage.

In June last year, in a Galaxy poll of 1100 Australians aged 16 and over, 71 per cent agreed same-sex partners should have the same legal rights as de-facto heterosexual couples. Similarly, 57 per cent of respondents supported same-sex marriage. Those figures show a 20 per cent jump in support since 2004.

Last week’s Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill is not a harbinger of doom. It’s really a contemporary piece of legislation which accurately reflects the society in which we live.

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: IVF, surrogacy

ABC News – "Mixed Response to Victoria’s IVF Law Changes" by Simon Lauder

December 5, 2008 Leave a comment

Lesbian couples and single women will soon be able to have babies using IVF treatment in Victoria, but some women and doctors say the new laws themselves are discriminatory because they include mandatory criminal background checks for prospective mothers.

There was celebration in the Upper House of Victoria’s Parliament as the votes were counted last night.

The Lower House gave the Government’s Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill the final tick of approval soon after.

It means Mikaela Olijnyk and Naomi Paton can now have the family they’ve planned together.

“One of us has medical infertility and the other doesn’t and we’re both wanting to carry a child with two children related through the same donor in a way that would allow our family to be related to each other,” Ms Olijnyk said.

“We fly to Perth on Wednesday to meet with a potential donor and start the negotiations,” Ms Paton said.

Under the old laws, single women and lesbians had to be clinically infertile to receive IVF treatment in Victoria and even then they weren’t allowed to use donor sperm from a clinic.

Natasha and Melissa had to go to great lengths to conceive their son Caius.

“We had to travel interstate every month to track ovulation and travel interstate every month in order to access donor sperm. We couldn’t have access to any medical assistance at all in Victoria because I’m not infertile,” Natasha said.

“I felt like we weren’t considered good enough to have children, that our family is not recognised and not valued because we’re not straight.”

Victoria’s Attorney-General Rob Hulls says the states laws are no longer in breach of the Federal Sex Discrimination Act.

“There are kids that are being born to all sorts of arrangements and they don’t have appropriate legal protections and so this legislation ensures that children – regardless of the arrangements under which they’ve been born – are protected,” he said.

“This legislation was always about kids and ensuring that children born into same sex families or as a result of surrogacy arrangements are not discriminated against.”

Background checks

There is a condition in the new laws which is proving controversial – mandatory criminal background checks. The medical director of Ballarat IVF, Dr Russell Dalton, says that will delay fertility treatment in some urgent cases.

“If we have to wait for the processing of police checks prior to undertaking fertility treatment for a person who for example has breast cancer at the age of 28 and is embarking upon invasive and aggressive chemotherapy, that person is going to be significantly disadvantaged. There’s no doubt about that,” Dr Dalton said.

Ms Paton doesn’t think she should have to pass a criminal check to get access to fertility treatment.

“We don’t need the police to tell us whether we’re suitable to be parents. I think it’s actually quite insulting,” she said.

Mr Hulls says the requirement is meant to protect children and it’s not discriminatory.

“We believe we have a responsibility to kids that are born of these arrangements and as a result we believe that police checks are appropriate,” Mr Hulls said.

“We don’t believe it will cause any inconvenience and it will ensure that any possible, unacceptable risk of harm at least can be addressed through police checks.”

Some women aren’t concerned about the background checks, including Vicky who has already become a mother through IVF.

“It can’t be any more invasive than the vaginal probes that you have to have every second day for scanning,” she said.

Based on a report by Simon Lauder for The World Today on December 5.

[Link: Original Article ]

Categories: IVF, surrogacy