Episode 1 – Kirsty-Lea – surrogate
Kirsty-Lea birthed as a surrogate in QLD in 2020 for a couple who were initially strangers . They surro dated, then completed the surrogacy paperwork before a failed embryo transfer and one where the embryo didn’t survive being thawed out. They then juggled the intensity of hospital restrictions in 2020 to bring Anton into the world in November of that year.
This episode was recorded in November 2021.
These podcasts were recorded as part of the free webinar series run by Surrogacy Australia. If you would like to attend one, head to this page for dates and registration links. The recording can also be found on our YouTube channel so you can see the photos that are described. Find more podcast episodes here.
The webinars are hosted by Anna McKie who is a gestational surrogate, high school Math teacher and surrogacy educator working with Surrogacy Australia and running SASS (Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service).
Are you an Intended Parent (IP) who is looking to find a surrogate, or a surrogate looking for Intended Parents? Join SASS.
Welcome to our podcast series with Surrogacy Australia. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen and in turn for helping us spread awareness and appreciation for surrogacy. I’m your host Anna McKie, and these recordings are from a regular webinar series that I run. You can find upcoming dates on our website at surrogacyaustralia.org. During the one hour webinars, we will walk you through the surrogacy process in Australia and you can type in questions for us to answer.
My co-hosts have all done surrogacy in Australia and they alternate between surrogates, gay dads and straight mums. This episode, recorded in November 2021, features Kirsty-Lee. Kirsty-Lee birthed as a surrogate in Queensland in 2020 for a couple who were initially strangers. They surrogated, then completed the surrogacy paperwork before a failed embryo transfer and one where the embryo didn’t survive being thawed out.
They then juggled the intensity of hospital restrictions in 2020 to bring Anton into the world in November of that year. Some acronyms to be familiar with are IPs, which stands for Intended Parents, and ASC, Australian Surrogacy Community, which is a Facebook group. Kirstie talks about her reasons for wanting to be a surrogate and for ultimately carrying for IPs who already had one child of their own.
We had discussions about considering the young children of the surrogate and the bond that they have with the surrogate baby after birth. We talked about what language to use for the surrogate, birth mother or auntie. We talked about caring for strangers versus family and advice for people who offer to carry for family and setting boundaries, challenges with hospital policies and how to say no to IPs that you are dating or saying no to a surrogate and what red flags to look out for. Enjoy the episode.
Tell us, Kirsty-Lea, what brought you to surrogacy in the first place and then you were initially looking for IPs to carry for, is that right? Yeah, so I came into ASC thanks to a random comment on a Facebook post somewhere, that’s how I found my way there. But I’ve always wanted to be a surrogate since I was about seven or eight. My mum was very sick with me and my sister and she always wanted a big family but she was left just with two children and so I just wanted to carry a sibling for my mum.
That’s how I started wanting to do surrogacy, not really knowing what it was. Obviously, I didn’t have a baby with my mum, but I did give her grandchildren instead. And yeah, it just always stuck with me. I thought it was illegal, like everybody usually does. Then the internet got better and I found my way to ASC. So yeah, it was just something I always talked about, always wanted to do. Like you said earlier, something maybe that you’re called to do.
Yeah, it’s just there always. And like me, I think, were you dating some different IPs before the sick? No, I sort of chatted to quite a few different people who would fit with my family and different, like the same values and things. All knew about each other, all knew that I was looking for intended parents, but I was just reaching out and making friendships, seeing where their values and support laid and who would be.
good and tender parents basically. I think that’s really good advice to surrogates and IPs listening. It’s okay for both sides to go, do you know what? You might not be the right fit for my values and family here. And that’s okay for, to work at that out. So then you, um, you found your IPs. Was it through ASC? It was through ASC. Yeah. So I just, I don’t even know how I found them. Maybe a post of who’s in Brisbane. Um, cause I’m in Ipswich in Queensland. So I was looking for someone fairly local. I have four children.
And when I joined, I joined ASC the week my youngest was born. So she wasn’t even a week old when I joined. But yeah, so I think I’d just done a post like that when she was about eight months old and just started chatting to people from there. But as you say, you knew you were going to be a surrogate. So it was when you had your fourth and you went, we know our family’s done. Now it’s time to go. Yeah. Well, I actually had a hemorrhage with her. And in the birth suite, my husband.
I said to him, I’m not having any more children. He’s like even surrogacy because he knew that it was something I wanted to do. I was like, no, not even doing surrogacy. Yes. Then that post came up and I was like, you know what? I’ll just explore it a little bit and see what it’s about. And yeah, within, within a few days, like, you know what? I’m still going to do surrogacy. So went from there. And I think, you know, we’ve become friends over the years too. And I think some of us, we do feel called to this and we found like we found our people and we found our place.
Yeah, I’m not the only crazy one. Yeah, the ones to give babies away. The babies, I have all the babies. So I’m going to share the screen now and go back to some photos that we’ve got here. So if you saw some of our social media posts, you would have seen some of these on here. Anyway, this is some pregnancy maternity photos. There’s quite a lot that would have happened to get here. I know that photo. We’re in the group when that happened. I think you said this was the photo I didn’t know I wanted or needed.
Yeah, so that’s the one of big brother there. I actually messaged the photographer when I saw that photo that she just encapsulated what surrogacy was for me. Obviously I wanted to do surrogacy because I wanted my mom to have another baby initially because I saw how she felt. And part of the journey was seeing Ethan and knowing that he wanted a sibling. Yeah, so having most people like, no, I’m not gonna do a sibling, just people that don’t have children. But for me, I was…
I was that sibling perhaps that obviously I must have wanted a sibling somewhere along the line if I wanted to carry it for my mum. Yeah, just Ethan has just been amazing the whole time. I’ve not seen him annoyed at his brother yet, but his brother’s just started walking. So maybe that’ll change soon. But the space has been there the whole time. And yeah, it’s just been an amazing rewarding part that I didn’t go in for. I went in for the parents obviously, but he’s the bonus.
And so for any IPs listening too, so Christie Lee carried for IPs who had already had one child, Ethan here, and so they were able to carry them themselves. So yes, it does happen. You never don’t think, oh, I’ve already got one child, no surrogate, whatever, want to carry for me. Not true at all. It’s about the friendship and the relationship that we develop there. So yeah, and I know my intended mum struggled a fair bit and she’s quite open about this, that she always felt guilty because there are so many intended parents that don’t have any children and she’s been blessed with one.
Um, but same deal. I, um, I’ve always said to her and to anyone, I have four children and each one was wanted and desired as much as the first, so don’t feel guilty about that. Um, unfortunately with altruistic surrogacy and having so many intended parents, birth surrogates, if you do have a child or more than one child, it’s probably very unlikely that you will find an altruistic surrogate outside of your family or friends circle, but we’re still here. We are here and.
Yeah, you might find someone so don’t feel guilty about wanting a child. Yeah, and I agree with that and again with my stats about 80% will find them. You know, chances are a friend or family might get to already see what those IPs are like because they already have one child and see the type of parents that they’re going to be and you’ve already got a friendship with someone. So yeah, your desire to have a second or a third is no different from the rest of ours to have a first or a fourth. So you’re allowed that. So what other lovely photos have we got here? So from those maternity shoots here.
I remember thinking you two look like sisters when I saw this. I do think that myself sometimes when I look at it, I, I, you don’t remember the similar to you. Were you just, yeah. Were you just laughing or do you remember the joke? I do actually. So it’s really awkward when you’re doing a maternity shoot with another woman and you have a husband and she has a husband. So this was, and our photographer was like, okay, turn and look at each other. And then she’s like, and now kiss. And we just cracked up laughing. So that photo is us naturally laughing at.
and they’re being funny. Ah, yeah, it was such a funny moment. We loved it. And I think that how do you capture it? You’re like maternity photos are often, you know, the one on the right, well, you could be two women, or on the left too, you could be a couple. So how do you put surrogacy? Like in these photos, oh, maybe that says surrogacy because there’s more people involved. Or polyamory, not sure. It’s a bit of the same. But when there’s just the two of you, yeah, it can be really awkward and someone’s touching your belly and in your space and. Yep.
like Ange and I are friends, but we don’t get in each other’s space quite that much all the time. So yeah, it was just a really funny moment. She just broke the ice with the photo. Good. And then that probably like, speaking of being in each other’s space, and then there’s birth. There is birth, yeah. There is birth. And so was it, were you happy with how that went? Yes, I was happy that they made it. I’m one of those people that people don’t like. I have very quick labors. So it was one of those things that hopefully they will make it. And they did.
We had a little bit of warning, which was nice. And it was like my other labors. It wasn’t much different for me, but it was a very different experience for Angie and Dane because they’ve had a long traumatic emergency sort of situation with theirs. So different experience for them. Yeah. If anyone’s got birth questions about specifics about how she was feeling about that, please feel free to ask. So then this is sort of handover moment, I suppose. So, Bubbs is with you first. Do you remember for how long?
Um, probably only about 10 minutes, 15 minutes, maybe it wasn’t very long. It was very awkward because I had the IV in my hand and, um, my husband ended up doing the handover, um, solely because of that I’m laying down and it’s really hard to get a baby up there when you’ve got something stuck in your hand. And I was like, yeah, you can give him over now. I remember parts of that, but not all of it. I stumbled upon a video that Dane, you can see us filming there. I didn’t make the connection that that video was there. And.
he was able to film it for me. So it was a beautiful thing to find it about eight months post-birth that I got to see that. So definitely we couldn’t have a photographer because of COVID restrictions. They wouldn’t fudge on that. Yes. Between John, Dane and the midwives, we got photos and videos, which was beautiful. Good. And so yeah, you made sure that the midwives knew how that important that was and have access to your phones to take the photos. So yes, someone was on hand. Beautiful. And then,
Oh, big brother Ethan there, what a smile, hey? That smile, it’s not left his face. Really? Every time I see them and every time he looks at Anton, that’s the smile that you see. That makes it worth it, doesn’t it? It does. Yep. And your kiddos, hitting Anton. Yes, they come up after school that day and saw him and they were like, oh, little baby and then they were off in five minutes time. Can we go now? The hospital’s boring. Yes. Evie’s my youngest there. She was the most interested out of the four of them.
So she’s got a lovely little relationship with Aunt Tom, which is really cute. Which I’ve got a few photos of coming. So yeah, cause she was your youngest and she hasn’t had a younger sibling. So this is- That’s right. We call it Baker tummy cousin. I don’t know if you’ve got language. We don’t really know. I didn’t really want the language of auntie or cousin or anything like that. So we’re just Kirsty and John and our children. Yeah. Are just their friends.
And they know, and yeah, and there’s, I think often the adults come in with the worries of how the kids are gonna cope. Kids are fine as long as you explain it to them. That’d been great. So Evie was three when, Aunt Tom, three and a half when Aunt Tom was born. And we had some challenges that she had to navigate. There was this baby that I wanna love and now the baby’s not here. What do I do with this? I wanna buy these clothes for him. How can I buy clothes when he’s not here? So we…
We had a few challenges and big feelings because three-year-olds are like that. But Ange and Dane were fantastic. We did millions of video calls at random times of the day, lots of photos and things like that. More for her than for me actually. Good IPs, isn’t it? Oh, it was great. That need, not just, oh, this is so inconvenient, but they knew how important it was for your daughter.
whom you love and they love too, to transition into life after surrogacy and baby being outside and in another house. Yeah, I’ve actually got more photos of Evie feeding Anton and being around for nappy changes and cuddles than I do for myself, I think, because it was something that she wanted to do and Angie and Dane were happy to allow her to do that and gave her the space to love on their baby and figure out who he was as well. This is really important for any surrogates with young kids listening and any IPs, you know, taking notes here
That’s gonna be a really important thing. The youngest kid, the bond that they’re going to have and then getting used to life apart, we really need to do that gently for the surrogates children, let alone the surrogate baby, but there’s a whole family dynamic to take into account here. So that’s why you really need to be friends. Yes. Good basically. And it’s been our whole family for the pregnancy. We’re all involved. The kids touch my belly and she shared a bed with me and got kicked out as my belly got bigger and.
So a surrogate’s children are very invested and to give them the space to love your baby as well is really nice. Mmm, that’s good takeaways, messages. This is good. We haven’t even got to questions. So much comes up from looking at photos. I added this one in. Was that a Halloween? No, it was Dane’s birthday. A birthday, right. But do you notice that the surrogate baby is not actually in the group photo? So this was in April, so he was about five months.
six months old, so he did exist at this point, but he was asleep. So, right. For some reason, I thought it was a catch up before him and I just, I shared it to show the insanity of life and the friendships that are here. This is after and this is, oh, we’re going to leave and we haven’t got a group photo. Quick, let’s get one. And the baby’s actually not in the photo. That’s okay. He’s there. We need him. We need a monitor. And I added this one, is it with these like the bunk bed photos before and after almost? Yes, correct. So.
There’s a few of them that Anne just taken that either before pregnancy, in pregnancy or after and we’ve tried to recreate a lot of them. So this was in pregnancy recreation. Yes. I’m holding your bigger baby. Yes. Look how big he looks next to me. Yes. Beautiful. And then some continued catch-ups, fascinated with beards, cuddles with you. Yes. He’s pretty cute in that photo. He’s very cute. Yeah, but he’s very, he’s very wary of me.
You’re not my mum. I don’t wanna go to you. Okay. Like babies do. Yeah. Yeah, and it’s funny, isn’t it? It’ll develop over time. So. Yeah. And then again, Evie, that’s your daughter. This is Evie, yes. Evie. And so I remember, yeah, the bond there that they developed and that was important for her to see. Yeah. So I think he just started crawling in these photos. No experience with the younger sibling that chases you and tries to get the toy that you want.
for her, but she was delighted when he was pulling her hair and climbing on her and stuff like that. She liked it because he was a bit more interactive. Yes, good point. Cool. And then I think this is my last one here. Just again, showing that friendships continue.
with the, it doesn’t end. This is part of your happily ever after, I guess. That’s right. And this is how we get all the children to look. We promise them with, if they do a nice photo, then we will do silly photos afterwards. So we have all our nice photos and there’s always a silly photo. Even our maternity photos is the same. People are like, how do you get 10 people to look? And we’re like, well, bribe them with silly photos and you’ve got to win up. Bribe them with silly. Okay. Ice flocks. Yeah, yeah, of course. There’s gotta be winners there. And that’s gonna lead us straight into one question that I’ve seen.
Somebody asked, Lisa’s asked, is your happily ever after what you thought it would be? I think so, yes. Good. I don’t think I had a particular image. I learnt a lot when I joined ASC about what I can expect, so a lot of my happily ever after goals were quite realistic based on seeing people before me.
Yeah, I didn’t have anything in particular other than, you know, that handover moment is the golden moment for most people. And Ethan was the big bonus seeing his excitement and just the relationship is good. Like we had a good friendship beforehand. We’re living a life around now 10 people. We have jobs, we have school terms, we are starting uni now. So we don’t we’ve never been a team that’s seen each other once a week. We’ve been.
once in the school holidays, maybe once or twice a term. It’s been very realistic for us from the start around so many people. And when we jumped back into that post-birth, it wasn’t abnormal for me. It did get really intense for a while. I was pregnant and the antom was almost due. And then when it dropped back, when life got busy, I knew that was okay because that was our normal. One of the big bonuses was probably my husband’s relationship with Dane. So.
I have mentioned this a number of times in ASC, they actually play cricket every week together, even now. And that started before I offered to them. That’s a genuine friendship there with a common interest. That’s right. Yep. So for us, it was three years from meeting to when Anton was born. So they’ve been playing cricket for over three years together every week. So they see each other more than Anton and I actually see each other.
So that’s been a bonus. I wanted my family to be involved, but they were involved way more than I ever could have dreamed, which was excellent for me. My big tips for choosing intended parents was someone that would also gel with my husband and could be friends with my husband and children. That was a really important thing for me. It was, even though this was my dream and my goal, I wanted them to be involved. So yeah, based on that, it has been my happily ever after.
Yeah, it’s good to hear because I suppose that, you know, it could be a challenging question that, you know, if your payment is in time and friendship and love, have you been paid? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes, yeah, that’s good. And it’s just a realistic friendship. It’s something that we can maintain. Yes, I feel that if you’re not to knock anyone else, but if you’re doing every week and then suddenly life gets in the way.
you can sort of feel like, oh, maybe I’ve done something wrong or are they avoiding me and all those sort of things. But we’ve just kept it consistent for us. And we’ve all been very real from the start about what we can commit to. Good. Yeah. Sounds good. Well, a couple of questions here. I think they’re slightly legal. I might just answer these. Jenny is asked, the legislation talks about the intended parent’s location as to which rules apply. How much of the process including…
delivery, I’m assuming by delivery you don’t mean delivery of pizzas, that’s a word that I hate, you mean birth, that’s okay, that’s the medical word for it, has to happen in the state or doesn’t it matter? So the surrogate can birth in her home state but all of the legal work would be done in the state where the IPs live. There’s no state in Australia that says the surrogate must come back to the state where the IPs live for birth, that doesn’t have to happen. So it
goes by the laws of where the IPs live and all your paperwork would be done there. I think that answers that bit, Jenny, and your other bit was about for Victorian IPs, what evidence is required by the intent appearance to show their inability to have children? Basically, you have to either not have a uterus, same-sex male couple born without a uterus had a hysterectomy, or be deemed by a fertility specialist or a, say, a cardio specialist that carrying a pregnancy would be too great a risk to you or the child. And you would get that approval.
either from your GP, but usually it’s a fertility specialist because most women have probably had fertility challenges along the way too. Also asked what form or document do you need for New South Wales to be an IP? Do you need a GP form? You would probably be engaging with your IVF clinic, so if you don’t have an IVF clinic you’ll need one for embryos probably. So you start with your GP, it’s the first place and then they would refer you to a fertility specialist.
Yes, you can’t just decide that you don’t want to be pregnant and then have a surrogate in Australia. It doesn’t work that way in Australia. Okay, so let’s come back to another question. So James and Stu, some of my regulars at the webinars, they thank you for joining us and for sharing your experiences. And so one question, did you have much difficulty with the hospital staff in regards to having a surrogacy birth? And
Right. Did you have problems getting the IPs admitted into the birthing suite? Like you had to educate them. There’s a whole podcast on this one. Let’s go to Sarah Jeffords website. I did a podcast in the middle of this. We had a lot of trouble. So we’re Queensland. We’ve had a fairly easy time with lockdowns, but somewhere in the middle of our pregnancy, our hospital had multiple cases of COVID. So immediately they went into very strict lockdown.
hospital didn’t even have a surrogacy policy. So it took, I don’t know, week 22 before I even got to talk to someone about the policy. And that’s when we found out it didn’t exist. So it was an uphill battle before COVID started. They didn’t want to admit my intended parents at birth. When we walked in there, our plan was to discharge from births even if I had a cesarean.
because they didn’t want to admit them at all. We did get the exemption for them to be allowed in births week. We got that quite early on, but I had an independent midwife and we had a photographer lined up and we had to forgo both those. They wouldn’t budge. They also wouldn’t budge on if I needed a cesarean. It was only one support person. So that wouldn’t change at all. Yes. So I, in between that week 22 and birth,
I had emailed the social worker of the hospital. I’d emailed the, so our health catchment is Westmoreton. I emailed the CEO for Westmoreton Health and she put me in contact with the nursing and midwifery director for Westmoreton Health and for the hospital. And those two ladies were the two that I liaised with the most, the one for the hospital being the one who had all the pull for everything.
eventually with a wonderful letter from Sarah Jefford, my surname is Savage, and she delightfully titled it Savage Letter to Hospital with great glee. And it did the job at the time. We got an email back saying they were going to admit our intended parents, they were going to provide meals for her, allow them in birth suite, but no to the photographer and midwife. So we went to a meeting at about 34 weeks, and all of that was pulled away from us.
She changed her mind and said, no, it depends on how many people we have in maternity that night. And it was all just taken away. They didn’t understand it all. Even when we talked about it, she was like, oh, we might be able to do a pullout bed in the same room as you for the intended mom. And I was like, well, what about meals? What about teaching her feeding and bathing and all those kinds of things? They’re like, oh, you can talk to your health nurse about that and go down to the cafe for food. And I’m like, no, you don’t understand.
She’s the mother. I’m not the parent. I will willingly look after the baby, that’s not the issue, but I shouldn’t have to look after the baby. So that was why we walked into first week, expecting to discharge straight away because we had nothing in place at all. They refused to come to the party at all. But we walked in there, the midwives we had were beautiful and apparently that day the CEO for West Moreton Health Nursing had tried to call me and I missed her call.
Partly intentionally because I was in early labor and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. Yeah. That night when we walked in, the midwives told us that we had a double room for both of us and all meals would be provided for my intended mom. So push to the very end. As you’re pushing. But I was very exhausted. It was really hard. It was draining. It was, yeah. Out of the cloud to you. I remember it because we were pregnant only about six weeks apart. Heavy work to be doing. At one point we were told even my intended parents weren’t allowed in births meet.
And that was the same day that they announced the football would be back to full capacity. Within half an hour they announced the football. So I just burst into tears. I was like, I can’t have four people in a birthday. I can have four. But you can have 40,000 in a stadium. Yep. So it was, it was really hard. I’ve continued to push post-birth to get a surrogacy policy in place at Ipswich, which they now do have. Yes. But it took probably eight months, seven months post.
into this year actually, not even post-birth. It’s not great, but there are some good things. I really pushed the continuity of care aspect in there for midwives, because I’m a big advocate for that. So that is in there, but they still wouldn’t budge on the one in the caesarean. And it’s still at the discretion of the nursing director and those kind of things, but they have a policy and they do recognize surrogacy now at the very least.
So for those listening, if I was to sum that up for you, I would say, here’s an example of people who have gone before you who are trying to pave the way. Some hospitals in the bigger cities, you won’t be the first surrogacy team. So other people have gone before you and paved the way. SAS is part of an example of this, but here’s an example of collecting the wisdom of those who’ve gone before us and learning from them. And you…
If you get to a hospital that’s got a surrogacy policy, you probably have no idea of the teams that have gone before you that had to fight these sorts of battles to get here. So hopefully other people will get a chance to pay it forward to other teams in future. If you think you’re faced with a smaller hospital or a hospital that hasn’t done many surrogacy, I would encourage you, as soon as you have a team and you’re starting any counseling and legal, start talking, educate them, ask about policies. Sarah Jefford, her website has some downloads that she can send you out.
printed copies of hospital policies to take with you, you can leave with the hospital to educate them. There are people that can be advocates for you. There are letters that can be written that are already sort of pre-drafted. We can help, but it might be a bit of a battle. So getting early is sort of- Do it before pregnancy if you can. I did call them before we started transfers, believe it or not, and was told they had a surrogacy policy in place. And there has been another surrogate that birthed.
sort of when I joined ASC in Ipswich, but she didn’t have any issues and she had two dads for intended parents. But by the time it got to me, COVID was just used as the scapegoat to not do anything basically. So it was, yeah, really challenging. And every hospital within an hour radius of Ipswich has a surrogacy policy, even Toowoomba has a surrogacy policy. But because I have very fast labels, traveling and catchment was an issue for us. There was no way that we could travel. It has to be here.
But I did have family that lived near Toowoomba who were like, look, if it gets too much, you can come and stay with us for two weeks. It’s just really hard to uproot 10 people, nine people into a new place. But definitely work it beforehand because once you’re pregnant, basically the hospital only wants to talk to the surrogate because she’s the patient. That’s what I found, even though I explicitly said multiple times, email Ange when you’re emailing me, include her.
they never did, they kept leaving her out and I would just add her back in and then I would add Sarah Jefford in as well and then I would add the CEO in as well. It got to that point that I just made sure everyone knew how I felt. But it’s absolutely exhausting once you get to the pointy end close to birth. So try to do as much of that work beforehand as you can.
That’s great advice. I mean, not obviously when you know, day one chatting to a surrogate, but you know, you sort of made the commitment to do counseling and legals together. You could be doing that on the side, particularly if you’re two dads in the making, that might be new. And sometimes it’s not that they mean badly, it’s just that this is new to them. And usually the parent is also the person that births. You know, usually the parent is within the pregnant woman, but surrogacy is an example of where the parent is not the birthing person. And so…
hospitals might be new for that. So, and Melissa’s with us tonight and thanks, you know, for the west. Thank you for all of your work there. So that’s not- She moved here, so if she has another baby here. Oh, yeah. The matter is better, go to the matter. Okay, well, you’re hearing it here first folks. Yeah. So a couple more questions tonight. So Jenny, do you have any thoughts about being a surrogate for a family member?
Jenny would like to be a surrogate for her sister and brother-in-law. So myself and her partner and our children would be auntie, uncles, cousins. So I suppose Jenny, it depends on where you’re up to, if you’ve even mentioned that to your sister and brother-in-law yet. Kirsty-Lee, have you got any thoughts or guidance to… I do it and I don’t mean to sound negative. They go bad really easily. I’m not saying don’t do it. No, I’m not saying don’t do it, but they do. Have your boundaries in place and make sure you have the right…
the same values for your method of birthing, costs being reimbursed beforehand, expectations of obligation. We could do a whole episode on this. We could, the visiting after. I think with family and even existing friendships, there’s unwritten expectations and obligations, which is where they go bad. So if you want to, that’s great, it’s lovely. I would do it for my system.
Um, but my sister and I are very different and I can see where we would clash as well. So have a look and really plan it out beforehand. If you’re going to, on all those questions that Anna’s probably got lists of everywhere. Yes. I think you have to go over them more than with strangers because strangers, you’re coming in expecting people to be different with family. It’s like, but you’ll do this for your sister. It doesn’t matter what you want. Do what you do, what your sister wants. It’s her baby. And it’s a bit more pushy.
When as a surrogate, you’re allowed to want what you want. And if you don’t owe your sister a baby, you want to help her and that’s a great thing, but you’re still allowed to have the surrogacy journey that you want to have out of this and get the support in the way that you need it, be it physical help, how much contact and things not just assumed with how things are going to go. Of course I would plug.
join SAS, because then we can be that third party. And then you can go, and even SAS, or even talking to other surrogates and IPs, you can go, oh, well, this is what other people have done. And then it doesn’t look like you’re the one being the nag going, can we do this? Can we do this? Then it looks like you’re taking the guidance from other teams before you to help guide that situation. So I would- And leave parents out. Don’t let parents be that third party. As in the grandparents.
Yeah, the grandparents to be, yes. The grandparents to be, yes, agreed, because they’ll be like, oh, but your sister needs this, she’s been through so much already, and I’m not downplaying that, because the sister could be here listening, but I’m just saying she has, but this is a sorrow ship. You have, she’s your sister, but you’ve not done surrogacy. It’s a whole different shift in dynamics, which you’ve never done before. We all have. Yeah. And it’s mad and crazy. Beautiful. Do it if you feel inclined, but make sure you have very good boundaries and explaining beforehand, because I
There’d be more trouble because it’s family. We have seen some of the, it’s families that have sometimes broken apart because of surrogacy. So Jenny, if you bring up the conversation with them, I’d point them in the direction of one of these free webinars so they can learn. And that’s another thing I would suggest making sure the IPs drive surrogacy as much as you. If you’re the one doing all the work and the appointments and they’re just, you know, yeah, then they’re not as invested in this as you. So.
I’m just cross reading comments and stuff there. So Jenny, I’m glad we’ve answered that. And so we’ll just got two more here. So anonymous question, a hard one. How do you say no to an IP after you’ve had a chat that doesn’t feel like the right connection? How do you do that? We’ve probably each got sorts on that. I’ve said no to two. So as I said earlier, we were chatting to quite a few people exploring different values. Absolutely loved both couples that we chatted to and I could have seen myself carrying for them.
and still keep in contact with them to this day. They both have babies through surrogacy and it wasn’t by me, but the first one we did have a difference. They had a preemie baby for their first child. So they were used to a very medicalized birth, listening to doctors for every little thing, which is okay, but it’s not who I am and it’s not something that I would probably agree with in the moment and we would clash. So that was important to them. It was important to me. And we were just like,
this is not going to work, we could both see that. And we decided that it wasn’t for us to be a team. And then when I was chatting to Angie and Dane seriously, I also had another couple, similar story, first baby. And then they both had Ashmans, they were similar ages. We got along all together, really, really loved them, but I had to choose one person, I couldn’t choose both.
So it came down to a pro-con list basically for me and there was one thing different between them and that is what I based my decision on and I did have to break the news to the other couple that I decided we wouldn’t team up. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Absolutely, but you know that if you make it very clear from the outset that you’re getting to know each other to see if you have the same values then the expectation
to carry is not there. It’s the expectation to get to know each other. So I think if you’re very clear on what your intentions are, then you can say no without feeling bad. You will feel bad, but you know, they’re expecting it. If you’ve ever broken up with someone, if you know you need to break up with them, it’s still gonna be a hard conversation, but that is the driving reason that you know that’s what needs to be done. So anonymous, it will be hard to do that, absolutely.
But you trust your gut. The sooner you start listening to your gut, the better practice that that is. And the same for intended parents of surrogates. Like you can say no to a surrogate. It’s not just the surrogates that have to say yes or no. If you think that there’s something there that is not going to lie, then do your surrogate a favor and point it out straight away so that they’re not misled as well and that they don’t feel like they have to.
And I was that surrogate. I was the surrogate dating two guys differently from me, which I said, but they called off with me after about six months of dating. So they were in Melbourne, we were in Adelaide, my kids were one and three, I was working full time. We have kept in touch to a point. I think the pressures, and particularly going through Melbourne, they needed at the time, so many in-person appointments, and that was gonna be quite a lot of stress. And then sometimes if my husband could come to the appointments, our kids weren’t allowed to be in the room.
And I wonder if the boys looked at that and went, this is too much pressure. You know, that’s an appointment wise, but I think in terms of personality too, there were a couple of things that were starting to clash, just slightly different values and what we were looking for. And I think as a surrogate, we sometimes come in, this is my project, I’m gonna be a surrogate. I really like these people. If in the rest of my life, if I set my mind to something, I do it. So I’ve set my mind to this. And sometimes you need somebody else to go.
could be good. And I sometimes say we could have had a bronze or a silver metal journey, but maybe not a gold. And they saw it. So that was a, it was shattering for me, but it was the right thing for all of us. And so that is okay. So IPs as well. It’s okay after a while to go, no, it just doesn’t feel right. It’s really empowering to do that. So Brendan’s question here, thanks as both. And what are some examples of what babies born through surrogacy call birth, their birth mother? Do they call you? Ah, yes. So what name?
Do we give to the surrogate after verse? Are you Auntie Anna, Auntie Kirsty-Lee, or do you have other names or different families? I’m Auntie Anna. I’m just Kirsty. I didn’t want an auntie title. She’s got enough aunties and I’ve got enough nieces, or enough nephews. So- When they talk about you though, like if they have a book or some photos and they talk about Anton grew in your tummy, is that what type of language would it be there? Well-
You can’t talk yet, so I’m not sure what they’ve explored. I’ve done a book and I’m quite comfortable with the birth mother title because that’s who I am. I gave birth to him and from all accounts I can see Anjindayn just using that. We’ve not been uncomfortable about anything in particular. It is what it is for us. I have done a photo album for Anton and I don’t even think I used that. I think I just said I just offered to grow you for your parents.
I gave birth to you, sorry, birth mother fits for us. But there’s lots of surrogates that get outy and that’s how they’re referred. Yep, each to the team. And that’s a great question to ask early on, what language they might refer to and it might shift and change. And then I’m trying to think, it’s often the surrogates kids, what they might call us. My kids, I like the idea of a cousin, a tummy cousin. Maybe tummy mummy is what I am to him, but…
Not necessarily, I think if, again, kids are quite adaptable, they’ll get used to the word surrogate. They’ll understand what it means if you use it enough. You don’t have to say birth mother or tummy mummy if that’s something that you and your team aren’t comfortable with. And I use tummy mummy. It was my Facebook page is a tummy mummy adventure. So I’m comfortable with that. Lots of surrogates really don’t like that though. So you do need to find out what her preference is. Yeah, and if it’s a hard line or if it’s negotiable or not. So Melissa’s and then I’ll…
Finish with one. So Melissa’s asking an anonymous question on behalf of another surrogate, I’m pretty sure there. So what are some red flags to watch out for when looking for IPs? Or perhaps even as another lady of- It’s so broad. I know, right? Melissa, we need a whole other session on that. You come and join me as co-host on that. About, but also red flags, I suppose, even if you’re chatting to family. Yeah, when looking for IPs, someone who will respect you for you, that even if you want to go separate ways.
Are they going to be horrible about it? Are they wanting to micromanage your decisions? Are they being genuine in what they’re offering you? One of the things that we’ve coined is under promise and over deliver. If you’ve got a very big over promiser, chances are they’re going to under deliver because we all have life and life gets busy and then you’ll feel let down. So if you’re looking for someone, yeah, just one of the things I love about Angel and Dane is they’re just themselves. I’ve never…
felt or seen, then these people that they aren’t, they’re exactly the same when they’re with me, when they’re with their families. Yeah, so if you can use it. You’ve got to be dandy around each other. Yeah, you can tell if someone’s not being genuine. If they’re putting on a front to look perfect, maybe start asking a few questions. Yeah, can you see them in their
I think one of the other things that floats around is in a stressful situation, how do they respond? Is it how they’ve always shown you or is it something different? And yeah, just sort of things like that. It’s how you judge any of your friends. How do you pick your friends? And that’s how you’re looking for IPs. And that’s good advice to keep coming back to. So just finishing up there in stressful situations, thinking back to all of the, some of the hard times for you in surrogacy. And I know there were some post-birth too.
What’s something that you learned about yourself in surrogacy? I can do something that’s hard that a lot of people can’t. To me, like there’s hard moments. To me, it didn’t feel hard, but it’s a big thing to the rest of the world that I can do it. And yeah, I did it. You did it. And well done. And that’s a nice thing to finish up. And Friday, today’s time is a happy birthday. It’s his birthday. So happy birthday anniversary for us.
for a year ago. Thank you. Well done, you’ve done the first year. I have again. Thank you for listening to this episode. To see the beautiful images mentioned head to our YouTube channel to watch the webinar recordings there. If you’re looking for more support and potentially connecting with a surrogate or intended parents head to our website surrogacyaustralia.org to check out the resources and to learn more about SAS.
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