My first serious foray in to surrogacy was around the same time as Baby Gammy hit the news. How horrible, I thought. I can’t bring myself to be involved in an industry where for whatever reason, this little baby boy is all alone. It’s not worth it. I’d rather be childless than associate with any of this surrogacy business.
But maybe there was a way to do the right thing – I just had to figure out what “right” meant to me. This post is about how we came to choose altruistic surrogacy in Australia.
At the time I was very naiive about surrogacy in Australia. When surrogacy was first suggested as a viable path to parenthood, I immediately told myself that there was slim to no chance that we’d cross paths with a surrogate within our own borders. It’s just not a done thing, I thought, unless you’re lucky enough to have a close friend or family member in the position to do so.
So I set about the task of gathering information on domestic (altruistic) and international (commercial and altruistic) arrangements, trying to pick a path that appealed to my own moral compass.
I continued to encounter an obstacle in my mind that I could not pass. Equality. Again and again, I kept coming back to equality. The only way I could be at peace with allowing another woman to fulfil a role that my own body could not, to risk herself and her family’s certainty for the sake of another’s, was if I could be assured of equality in the relationship. To do this, I felt like I needed to somehow give back.
It’s a pretty preposterous thing, to think there’s any way one could ever repay another for such an act as bringing a child in to the world. I thought about this long and hard. There were many times I concluded that I could never be at peace with it, so maybe I should give up from the outset. I flip-flopped back and forth more than a pair of thongs on an excited 4 year old.
During this time, I wasn’t at peace. At times I wondered whether pure commercial surrogacy might be the way to go, as monetary compensation is a kind of compensation after all – perhaps that’d bring the equality playing field up to par by some definition. Maybe I’d be some form of ok with it, provided there was full consent. I was very mindful that there are women in less fortunate countries willing to put themselves on the line for financial certainty, though just how free their consent is is debatable; so I quickly ruled out anywhere I wasn’t able to communicate directly with a surrogate in her native language. Having a sizeable commercial transaction sit so close to the creation of life didn’t sit entirely well with me either; however I quickly learned that the surrogacy world is full of commercial transactions, so this became a bit of a moot point.
I thought long and hard about pure commercial surrogacy in the early days – could I do it? It sounds so appealing – a choice of surrogates lining up, and a seemingly straightforward process guided by an agency. These were the low hanging fruit that played on the uncertainties I felt at the time.
But some things just can’t be repaid.
I wouldn’t pop a $100 note in my husband’s pocket to repay him for that hug yesterday (though he probably wouldn’t complain). How on earth can I repay a 9 month long hug? So I stopped thinking about surrogacy as an act to repay, and started to think about it in terms of altruism and friendship. These are things that I understand more naturally than acts repaid. What I give to my friends, is my love. Love doesn’t have material worth (unless you go to a shady corner of a dark alley in the outer suburbs, then it’ll cost around $50 an hour). My love is the most valuable thing I own, so therefore it makes sense to use love as my primary currency to treasure the invaluable.
Love is just a word unless it’s genuinely felt. So I had to find someone who I wanted to form a genuinely loving relationship with, irrespective of surrogacy. At times it felt as though I was shooting myself in the foot even more – it’s already hard enough to find a surrogate in Australia – adding the “someone I love” requirement on top of that seems an even taller order. As a result, I said no to paths that presented themselves when it didn’t feel right. I stayed true to myself. It wasn’t always easy, but it was honest. I don’t love my friends for what they do for me, but for who they are. I wanted my relationship with a surrogate to be just as authentic.
It was only after having this realisation that I knew what I had to do. I had to fully commit to altruistic surrogacy in Australia in order to find my happy place. I’ve encountered all sorts of people on all ends of the spectrum of pursuing surrogacy here and overseas. Their journeys are no more or less legitimate than ours. Though we share a common dream, we all have different circumstances leading us down different paths.
My choice to stay local came from a long journey of soul searching. In the end, I became stubborn and determined that if I couldn’t do things in a way that was right for me, then I wouldn’t be doing them at all. And then 9 months after starting the search, we crossed paths with our surrogate, and now I can’t imagine life any other way 🙂 I’m glad I held on to what felt true to me – so glad – and I hope that our story might serve as inspiration to others facing a similar decision.