Episode 10 – Adam – gay dad
Adam and Angus from Sydney became parents to baby girl Vivian in October 2022. Vivian was carried and birthed by their surrogate Kate who was previously a stranger. Adam’s sister is their egg donor and you may have seen their team featured on channel 9’s show Big Miracles. You can hear Kate’s version of their journey in episode 8.
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This episode was recorded in July 2023.
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 Surrogacy Australia’s podcast series. I’m your host Anna McKie. Thank you for sharing your time to listen to this episode. These recordings are from the regular one hour free webinars that I run, which I invite you to attend if you haven’t already. They take you through how surrogacy works in Australia, including how to find a surrogate or intended parents. There are opportunities to ask questions and you hear from a co-host each time about their own journey.
This episode, recorded in July 2023, features Adam. Adam and Angus from Sydney became parents to baby girl Vivian in October 2022. Vivian was carried and birthed by their surrogate Kate, who was previously a stranger. Adam’s sister is their egg donor, and you may have seen their team featured on Channel 9 show Big Miracles. In this episode, Adam discusses egg donation, if you have an offer from a known and an unknown donor, how do you choose? How to find an unknown surrogate?
writing your story and spreading the word among friends and family, how to manage finances with your surrogate during pregnancy, the ongoing connection with the surrogate, her children and Vivian’s connection with them. Overall, his advice is to engage with the surrogacy community early on, build up the trust so there are no more things left on the table to discuss, and be yourself. Don’t tell her what you think she wants to hear. She wants to hear the real you. I hope you enjoy this episode.
So we’ve got Adam with us tonight and we’ve got some beautiful photos of his surrogacy journey that he shared with us. So Adam, work us through these photos. Who have we got in this first photo to start with? So this is kind of the whole team we’ve got here. So Kate’s the surrogate in the middle. She’s kind of taking centre stage there. Around her is her five kids who are now, the oldest is 18 and the youngest is 12, I believe. That’s her husband, Daniel, on the far left. Then myself.
I forgot to take my sunglasses off, looking very cheesy. My husband Angus, my sister Karen, and her then partner Eric. Right, and your sister is your egg donor for your team, right? Yes, she’s our egg donor. We’ll unpack that more over time, I’m sure. So photos here from your journey. What was happening in this one? So Kate owns a, but at the time she owned a burger shop quite nearby.
And so she was giving us lettuce and bits of scraps and things from the shops she’d give to our chickens. So we got this message one day that, oh, I’ve left a box of stuff on your front veranda. So I go out there and there’s this little doll sitting in the lettuce leaf with the card and the envelope saying, press my tummy. So we pressed the tummy and the message was, she’d done it like a baby voice, so it came across quite authentically, but it was talking about
Kate would like to help Angus and Adam make their baby dreams come true in 2022. Would you like to borrow her tummy? Oh, yeah. So that was it. We still got the little dolly. Viv’s never actually fitted in those clothes, but anyway. That’s beautiful. At first I saw that photo, I thought it was like a cabbage leaf, like she’s from the cabbage patch. Cabbage patch doll. No, that was, so that’s the whole story. So that’s why the chickens are kind of included in the card as well, because they were kind of central to the whole thing. Wonderful.
And so for brand new people listening tonight, sometimes surrogates like to do something fun or silly when they officially offer to their IP. So this was something Kate probably came up with and had such excitement herself coming up with it for you, I bet. Yeah, I think she did. And it was also kind of unique to us because we both, so both sets unbeknownst to us have two Labradors and we both have chickens. And so it was just a nice little sort of fit. So to include them, I suppose, in the, in the
process was a really nice, a really nice touch. Yeah. I’ve gotten to know your story over time. There are many little moments like that. There’s so many parallels in your life that just probably felt like, yeah, we’re meant to be the team together here, aren’t we? Yes. Yeah. They were just the number of coincidences and serendipity of whatever you want to call it was was just uncanny. And this was actually one of them. So the 19 was the number of eggs we had from our first collection.
and we went down the road to to a local cafe afterwards because my poor sister was feeling a bit woozy afterwards and needed a good coffee and some breakfast and we were assigned table number 19. So just another little coincidence. So there’s another photo of her with the 19 on her hand and the 19 table signed together and like wow this is meant to be kind of thing. And Vivian was actually one of those 19. Wonderful. So that means you’ve still got some embryos left in the freezer?
We’ve got two left, yes, present. So we’re still undecided whether we’ll go again or not, but we do have those options up our sleeve. Yeah, right. And so then this was a pregnancy announcement, is it with the matching t-shirts or not matching? It was, and they ended up being so huge on us. We should have actually put them through the dryer and shrunk them a bit. Yeah, so we’ve got those as kind of souvenirs from when we found out we were pregnant. Yes.
And Sarah gets often like to get some mileage out of it saying, you know, it’s not my baby. And then partners of Sarah get saying, it’s not mine either. Beautiful sort of photo memory board here with pregnancy announcements and lots of things that have happened along the way. Yes. So all these little sort of milestones and things along the way that we put in. So we made the announcement sort of publicly, oh, I think it was the three months Mark. We, we’re very excited and really trying to keep it under wraps. And the number of people who
knew that we were on this process, who knew that we had a surrogate. So they’re like, well, surely there’s going to be an announcement coming sometime soon. And we’re like, just be patient. We’re not quite there yet. So we managed to string along quite a few people for a little bit before making the big announcement. But yeah, this was the announcement that sort of went out to everybody. And there’s a great big sort of message of thank yous. And you can never seem to say thank you enough and to enough people, but we tried our best.
Because so many people are involved in your journey along the way to bring you all together, aren’t they? There really are. There really are just so many people and even people who aren’t necessarily directly involved, just the amount of support that you have around you and I think you need around you, even I think before embarking on a story because you’re just actually putting it out there, this is what we’re doing, this is why, it takes a lot of guts and a lot of courage to do that. So having that good sort of support network around you to start with.
So I really think that it’s important to thank them. Thank you for being there from the very outset of this journey when we were just considering on those very early days. We wanted to make sure that everyone was thanked and appreciated. Yeah, that’s a good reflection point there. And that when you tell your friends and family, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone’s gonna step forward and offer, but what you’re doing is you’re creating an army of supporters for yourself and you’re educating them about it so then they can understand your journey and support you. Yeah, definitely.
Okay, and then is this a baby shower? This was our baby shower, yes. So I just had the notification yesterday on Facebook, you know, oh, the memory from a year ago. So I’m like, oh, wow, okay. Because Miss Vivian’s about to be nine months. She just turned nine months on Friday. Nine months. Yes. Nine months in, nine months out, as we often talk about. Longer Earth side now, we say. Right. She’s been longer with you guys than she was in Kate’s tummy.
And just to confirm, it worked first embryo transfer, is that right? It was, we were exceptionally lucky with that one. Yeah, but that was an interesting point with the genetic testing that we had done. And some people are a bit nervy about getting their embryos tested. There is a small sort of risk of things going wrong with that. But being a surrogacy, we were encouraged to do it. We thought, well, we’ve always agreed as a team that we would follow the medical advice that was recommended to us, so we did it. And as it happened, we ended up with
five embryos after the first collection and four of them came back abnormal and the one that was normal was Vivian thankfully but she was actually our lowest graded embryo so if we hadn’t done the genetic testing they would have started at the highest graded one and worked their way down she would have been last so we likely would have had four failed transfers or four miscarriages potentially before coming to work became Vivian.
Yes, because those each embryo transfer could have lasted 10 weeks before a miscarriage. Yeah. And then, and therefore a surrogate might not keep going. Yeah, or we might have made the decision, look, four times this is just too much. So Vivian might not have come into the world frankly, if we hadn’t done the testing. Yes, yes. And I think I’d agree with you. It is, if you have the opportunity to do that testing and surrogacy, yes, because it’s a surrogate that you’re putting on the line there too. And you want to…
give her the best shot. So yes, you know, there’s pros and cons with testing there and it’s not always invaluable, but yeah, taking medical advice and then discussing it as a team for what’s the right fit for everyone there. Yeah, that’s a valuable point. And so then some catch-ups together with the four adults. This was actually our baby moon. So we coincidentally were married in the same place. So Angus and I were living in the UK.
the time, so this is nearly 11 years ago now, and we kind of did a round-the-world trip, so we came back to Sydney, we had a commitment ceremony here at Watson’s Bay on Sydney Harbour, so that our family and friends could join us, then we went to Canada and we made it official over there and did a honeymoon over there. But coincidentally, Kate and Daniel were also married at Watson’s Bay and also had, what was it, their engagement party or something at Doyle’s at this restaurant.
So anyway, when we ended up there for our wedding anniversary, Kate’s like, oh my gosh, you wouldn’t believe it. We were there. We’ve got memories there too. Let’s go and have a baby moon there. So that’s what we did. Wonderful. More serendipitous moments for your team. I’ve just seen one question pop up in the chat and because we just mentioned it before with the genetic testing, it’s asked there, is it a must or is it a choice? What would you say to that?
I think it may come down to the IVF clinic itself, whether they’ve got particular protocols or requirements or not. I think in our case, it was a very strong recommendation, but not a must. I think that’s what… I think that’s about right. Nobody can force you to do anything. I’d say that forcing you to do it just seems a little bit off. I’d definitely say that it would be a strong recommendation.
based on our experience, we would sort of personally recommend it as well. Yes. Yes. And here’s the value from talking to other surrogacy teams and hearing what they do. And if people perhaps came to, you know, the Zoom monthly catch up, you could ask other people that too, and gather some ideas from what other people have done. And then we get to birthday. So tell us a bit about this. This was quite something. So a water birth was never
ever on our cars. It wasn’t on the radar. I don’t think it was even discussed. It was just no interest kind of thing. So Kate being Kate, she likes to sort of plan everything and had almost this rule book of like a run sheet of how the day was going to go because Viv was induced. So we did have a little bit more control, I suppose, in terms of that, in terms of when it was going to happen. But yeah, it kind of went out the window because we got to the hospital, I think it was 7am or something quite early.
Kate was induced about 8.30 and nothing and tick tock tick tock. And the weird thing was that with Kate’s own, she’s got five children of her own and each of her pregnancies had been quicker than the last, each of the labours. To the point that the youngest was, I think, 16 minutes in life. So we were sort of really going for, oh, my gosh, this is going to be, can we get to the hospital in time? This is going to be really sort of fast. So I think that was kind of part of the decision making of of inducing.
was that we could be there, but there were also sort of medical reasons as well for that. But anyway, so the hours went by and we were in this birthing suite and nine o’clock, ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, midday, one o’clock sort of rolled around. We ended up ordering Uber Eats in for lunch and yeah, some charcoal chicken for lunch and things like that. And I think it was the midwife or someone suggested, why don’t you actually try a warm bath?
and just see if that relaxes the muscles and can induce labor. And Kate’s like, oh, why not? I love the, she loves her sauna, her spa. So she gave it a try. So we went outside and we thought we’d sort of be sitting there for a while and then we get this call, oh, it’s all happening. Get it, get it back up here quick. And yeah, it just happened really quickly after that. So the warm water just worked and we’ve ended up being water birth. Yes. Did you know if you were having a girl?
No, so it was really important for me personally, I didn’t want to know. I just thought that the whole IVF and surrogacy process, everything is just so planned and so structured. This was the one big surprise that I kind of got to have. So it was really important for me in particular to have that surprise. So naturally Gus wanted to, he wanted to know just so he could hold it over me for nine months. And Kate said, you know what, neither of you are going to know and I’m going to know and I’m going to hold it over you. So that’s what happened.
Oh fun. Yeah so she knew and she dropped kind of these hints throughout the pregnancy, both genders, you know pronouns here and there and we never really knew what was kind of going on but we were actually suspecting it was a boy. So when it turned out it was a little girl we were having, it was quite the surprise. Yeah. Wonderful. Which is nice.
And these photos here have the little Channel 9 logo at the bottom here because you had a film crew with you on your birthday. Yes, there’s an interesting still actually of poor Kate because they, I think there are two cameras they sort of mounted around the room. They had a little GoPro camera on the end of the bath, kind of right in poor Kate’s face. That was quite something. And then the camera people as well were sort of wandering around the room. So it was quite something and really captured from all angles.
Um, did it distract on the day or you were still in your own little bubbles together? I think no on, on the day itself. Um, I suppose in the, the early stages during the inductions and things we were, yes, there’s cameras here. Oh my gosh, it’s, it’s very thing. But then obviously once things cut, you know, start happening, um, and the baby arrives, it’s just, uh, you end up in the moment. Yeah. So Kate birthed in the pool and then got back up onto the bed and then, and handed Vivian to you. Yes.
Yes, that’s the hand over there. The top one. That’s beautiful. Yes, having some skin to skin. And then this is the team and a midwife or doctor. That’s the doctor. Yep. To Bailey. Big smiles on everyone’s faces there. Oh yes. And then some, you know, an example here of surrogate Kate having some cuddles with Vivian too and you guys as well. Yeah. And so was that important to your team or you had discussed roughly how that would work with handover?
Ah, well, the initial plan that kind of didn’t go to plan because of the water birth, Kate wanted one of us to catch the baby and the other to cut the cord. That was what we’d originally planned. So the catching baby didn’t really happen. Kate ended up obviously sort of doing that herself in the bath. But Gus sort of helped pick Vivian up and I cut the cord in the end. So at least we got part of the plan right. Yep and that’s all right, you’ve got her in your life for the rest of time.
Any bits of delay. And then we’ve got some photos here of life going on and some catch-ups. Yes, the one on the right on the couch was I think one of our, when Big Miracles was actually showing, we’d go round to Kate’s place and we’d watch it together as a team. Lovely. Which was pretty cool. So I think that was one of those nights. Yes. And then is this Kate and her family having some time with Vivian?
That one was actually a, I think that’s Channel 9 Studios, we had to go in and do a promotional shoot so they doled Kate up and put a bit of foundation on the rest of us to try and make us look a bit more presentable. And yeah, so this was a sort of a cheeky photo while I’m in the chair getting zhuzhed. Is that the expression, is it? It is, yes. Because I’ve had Kate on as a webinar co-host.
I remember hearing from her that she spent some time with Vivian and for some new IPs listening that might be something to wrap their head around going, so your surrogate’s birth, but are you saying when she’s born there were some times where you left the baby alone with your surrogate? Is that something you guys have done or felt comfortable with or talked about? It is. So we had, so they would kind of do some babysitting and particularly just to, I suppose,
catch up on sleep, make sure that we were sort of fully functioning again. Um, and then just for a few little things, there might be a couple of sort of hours, you know, with a medical appointment or something going on. Um, they would just jump at the chance to be able to spend time with Vivian. And we kind of felt that that was actually really important to help Vivian bond with Kate and with her family. Um, so it was something that we kind of encouraged from our part and we’re quite happy for them to be involved in because.
You know, they all, all of them, not just Kate, her whole family helped bring Vivian into the world and to not let them kind of experience the fruits of that work is a bit anticlimactic. I don’t know if that’s the right kind of phrase, but yeah, it just seemed quite natural. And they’ve also got a lot of experience with babies. So Kate and Daniel have fostered 40 kids, I think it is now, about half of which have been newborns as well.
So as well as their own five kids, they’ve got a lot of experience with babies. So there’s a lot of lessons that they’ve been teaching us. So again, it’s kind of been nice having them close at hand and really actively involved in Viv’s life because they’ve been able to give us a lot of pointers and make sure that Viv’s getting the best life possible. Wow. I think that’s a credit to your team that you’ve talked about that in the planning and then you’re living it out. And so this is great to show brand new people listening that this is what it could look like if…
you know, everyone needs to feel, find the right team fit for themselves. But here’s a great example of what it could look like. The, the, the village that’s around Vivian. She’s got a huge village and it’s amazing. It’s so nice that, uh, that she does have that. And we, we just want to make sure that, um, she gets to really experience that to its full. And what a wonderful thing for, um, Kate and Daniel’s kids to, to, for them to have this growing up. I mean, they’ve got foster kids in their life too, but, uh, this one, they actually grew in their mum’s tummy.
Yeah, yeah. So they’ve, the kids have been really amazing as well and they treat Vivian like a younger sibling almost and you know they fight over who gets cuddles next and that kind of thing. It’s really sweet but it’s really nice that they’re involved and yeah Viv essentially has some more cousins in her life. That’s true yeah that cousin sort of connection that’s about where it sits isn’t it?
then some photos here from the the premiere of the big so the one on the left was Vibes christening with her bonnet and the one on the right was yes the the big miracles um premiere. Lovely to be a part of that all together and then photo of you being dead with Miss Vivi. Yeah and life goes on. I remember because I follow you on Instagram so I remember seeing that one all rugged up. All right so Adam.
Couple more questions about your journey. We talked before, a bit off screen, about your egg donor and journey there. Is there things more that you’d like to add about no one or an unknown egg donor? Is that something that you discussed? Yeah, so with our egg donor, we had a number of women offer to donate eggs in the first instance, and we kind of narrowed them down. There were a few sort of medical reasons and things that it wasn’t possible.
And we ended up with three very serious options, which was incredible. And one of them was a single mom, she’d been through IVF herself and she had some eggs frozen that she wasn’t gonna use anymore. And she said, they’ve already been tested, they’re already good to go, they’re on ice, I don’t want them anymore, I’m not going to use them. Would you like them? And we decided not to use hers.
It was actually with, I think we used Katrina Hale as well for our counseling. So we did surrogacy counseling, but we spoke with her once or twice in those early stages. And once was actually specifically to try and help us narrow down on which egg donor we were ultimately gonna go with. And she said, look, this woman might not have the intention to use them now, but what about in a year or two years or five years? And by which time her own eggs have
gotten older, she might not be able to conceive naturally anymore. And if you’ve basically taken her, her lifeline, what then? So we thought, yeah, that’s not really fair on her at the end of the day. So that’s kind of how we ended up saying, thank you, but no to her. And another one was an unknown donor.
And we found, or she reached out to us from one of the forums, Egg Donation Australia, I think it was. And she was amazing and really, really, she was a really good option, I think. But we ended up deciding with my sister because we thought, well, at the end of the day, we want our donor to have a good relationship with our child. And we want our child in turn to know them. And we just thought that it was easier if it sort of came closer to home.
But I suppose the most important thing was with my sister, we both have a genetic link to our child now, which just wasn’t possible with anyone else. Yes. And so that’s a lovely way to round it out. So if you had a known and an unknown donor on the table as offers, that’s how you sort of help come to that. Yes, yes. So that’s how we sort of arrived to that decision.
I’m guessing you spread the word then about needing an egg donut or a surrogate because you mentioned that, you know, somebody reached out. And so can you take us through that process of sharing your story? Did you do it separately for donation and surrogacy or it was kind of all together? And where did you do that? Like privately, like on your own pages or within a Facebook group? Both is the short answer. Um, so we kind of just put our story out there as wide as we possibly could. Um, and we thought this might take us forever to do. So let’s just.
hit it hard, go everywhere and anywhere that we can possibly think of and just put ourselves out there. That was our sort of thought. So we put a big post together that we put on our personal social media channels. And it was just kind of, I’m trying to think of the wording that we used on it, but we were basically just saying, look, this is where we’re at. We looked at adoption both overseas and in Australia.
for various reasons, it’s just not really an option for us. We’re now looking at surrogacy, and this is the next kind of steps that would be involved for us. And so we put that out sort of personally, then we sort of tailored it a little bit more as I suppose an introduction to ourselves as well as that to put out on the different forums. So Australian surrogacy community, Egg Donation Australia, there are a few other ones.
We were also potentially throwing up the idea of surrogacy in Canada at that stage, so there were a few forums with that as well that we were exploring. So it was just, yeah, put ourselves, our story and see what if anything sticks and hopefully just sort of make some new introductions. And so in that, that was sort of, yeah, selling yourselves a little bit, giving a bit of a background. Am I sensing then that you didn’t directly say on your own pages?
Can somebody be our surrogate? It’s more, here’s our story. If anybody wants to know more, get in contact. I think we kind of put it a bit more direct than that, but not just, will you be our surrogate? It was more, we will be in need of a surrogate and of an egg donor in order to make our dreams of being parents become a reality. So it was just sort of keeping it factual in terms of that portion of it. Yes. So I think that doing that made it very clear that
this is what we need and what we’re looking for. There was no ambiguities about it, but at the same time, it was not being forceful or also there’s laws around advertising for a surrogate. So we wanted to be mindful of that as well. Yeah, so I think that if you can sort of word it quite delicately and carefully, but again, specifically, be direct in what you actually do need. It just helps other people sort of understand and wrap their head around it. And it’s not such a…
theoretical concept. It’s, oh, okay, I understand. That’s it. It’s in these parameters kind of thing. I like that. That’s some good advice. And so ultimately Tate found you in ASC, Australian Surrogacy Community. Do you remember how long it was from when you did that post to when she made contact? It wasn’t actually that long. It was a couple of months, I think, in the end. Yeah. So, but she also spent, she admitted to us that she spent a bit of time sort of stalking us online.
So she went through our personal accounts, our LinkedIn, just anything and everything. And I’ve worked as a journalist, so I’m quite Googleable. So I’m not sure exactly what she came across with all of that, but yeah, I think she sort of got some good insights into who we were and she sort of thought, well, hey, they seem like my kind of people. Good. And surrogates do that. I did it, I think a lot of us do. It’s trying to find that background check of who are these people? Is it just a front or are they genuine across many aspects of their life?
And then another thing we messaged before about is money. And so in terms of how much can it cost and how do you manage it during the journey? So I think I told you that we were in the 70,000s but we went back and did the numbers. It was actually less than that. So we overestimated. So I think we came in about 61,000 overall. And for those listening, I’ll say that’s pretty much bang on average about 60,000 is average with a range of 35 to 90,000. So
Because you had two egg collection cycles in that. We did, yes. Yes. So I think that was probably just under half of the total cost was the IVF side of things. So if you need to go through more rounds, that’s going to significantly boost that up. And then any comments on managing money during the journey? I think it was through ASC or some other surrogates gave Kate the advice, have a shared bank account.
because it makes a lot of things easier. So one, in terms of just keeping track of your costs and itemizing everything which you will need when you come to do the parentage order, it’s just also very good to have that kind of record of what went where. And if there are any questions, you can actually explain, oh, that was for maternity bras, or that was for this, so that it doesn’t look like you’re sort of putting payments through on the side.
But it also has a psychological impact to it. And it’s very confronting to ask someone for money. So removing that from the surrogate’s kind of plate, I suppose, that there is money there, she’s got access to it. And Kate would always say, oh, I’m just popping off to the shops this, or I paid cash for this, I’m just going to withdraw the cash to sort of take that up and sort of top that up. So she’d always let us know, which was fine, but she didn’t have to go and ask. And she wasn’t dependent on us.
I need to hold off until there’s money in the account or something like that. Or, you know, she didn’t want to go racking up things on a card. So it was just a visa debit, not a credit, but very sort of easy to manage. And as I say, just having that itemized checklist worked wonders. Hmm. Great advice there. And I think that’s the formula a lot of teams do. You know, our team did the same thing too.
And SAS, we have that built into our package too, that we help with a joint bank account there. So there’s a bit of peace of mind that the surrogate knows there’s always a certain amount of money in that. And as you say too, it helps you to itemize it too as parents of how much did you spend on this and sort of keep track of that. Not that it ever really gets questioned in an itemized way at parentage order by any means, but I guess just in case it ever did, it’s all in one place then. I think it’s got a Murphy’s law, you know, if you don’t have it there, that’s when the question gets asked.
Yeah, so it is just nice to know, but in terms of, you know, it is a costly journey. So having that there, that kind of record, it’s just really helpful. And it really does help you keep your own budgeting in balance. Yeah, good advice. Had one question typed in that says, My fertility specialist advised me he doesn’t do surrogacy and I need to go to another fertility clinic to get eligibility criteria checked. Can I still look for a surrogate or get the eligibility done first? I guess it would depend on your.
particular circumstance in terms of what the eligibility criteria would be. So as the same sex couple, all we had to do was go to our GP and they’re like, OK, yeah, you’ve got the social need clearly. I’m guessing this could be a hetero woman asking. I guess there are some small clinics that don’t do surrogacy. I suppose it’s still a growing area in Australia. So you are welcome to move clinics. There’s there’s no issue like that, like your hairdresser or your plumber. You can change trades, so to speak.
but you can be doing lots of things in parallel. Of course, still look for a surrogate and put the word out there while you’re still having conversations. Some teams might move IVF clinics during the journey. So that would be fine then, I think. Yeah, it would be fine to move clinics at any point in time, I’d imagine. I kind of suggest changing clinics because if they don’t do surrogacy, they’re not gonna be confident in the whole process or just make mistakes or anything sort of open to that. So if they’re not,
in surrogacy, it may not be a good idea to stick with them. The other thing I’d say is that we changed fertility clinics from what we had our initial sperm testing done with to the one that we ended up using. And part of the reason was we actually didn’t like their filing system. And the way that they did it, the patient was always known as a woman and the partner, or the husband I suppose is what they kind of put it as, was he was just classified as the partner.
Now, because we were a same-sex couple, we were basically each others. And we thought the scope for them to end up using the wrong sperm because they get confused who’s the patient and who is the partner was just phenomenal. And we thought, no, that is way too big a risk. And there were just sort of little things like this that we kind of picked up and thought, actually, these aren’t the right guys for us. It just doesn’t feel right. So, yeah, be as comfortable as you can with.
everyone, all of your doctors, all of your specialists, all your team around you, because it’s a complex enough journey without having these little question marks and niggles and things that don’t necessarily need to be there. Yeah, good advice there. I think that’s unfortunately sometimes common with IVF clinics, sort of learning surrogacy is not calling it patient one, patient two, or assuming it’s a woman for the first one. My dads, we were the first one in South Australia to do it through a clinic and they were constantly crossing out, you know, mother.
or you know, woman, all of the forms there. So yeah, Adam, tell us something about your journey. What didn’t work and therefore how did you fix it? I don’t think there was anything that really fundamentally didn’t work, but there are, you know, there’s always things you do differently. And one of the big things that I think I would do differently would be to actually have been more engaged with the surrogacy community early on. Because when we were kind of going through it,
we didn’t really know anyone closely who was currently or had been through a surrogacy journey. So while we were sort of touching base with the communities online and things like that, there were points to sort of ask questions and things like that. We didn’t have any really close relationships with any other surrogacy teams. And that would have been really nice to have that kind of handholding experience and just, yeah, not going through it, I suppose, as not really alone,
a bit more isolated than possible. So I guess that would be my sort of main thing that I would do differently. And something that was hard in your journey, I know because you’ve been on a panel before and I know that Kate had some medical challenges during pregnancy standing for long periods of time. So that’s one I’d love you to tell me about. But are there other things that you can think of to tell us? Yeah, it was the medical side of things. And
think a lot of surrogates come in and say, well, my pregnancies were very easy. I’m quite happy to be a surrogate and go again. And the surrogacy pregnancies, I mean, you’d know better than me Anna on this, but it just seems the surrogacy pregnancies tend to be a bit more difficult. And whether it is the surrogate’s body who’s just going, oh, this is a foreign embryo, I’m a little bit more dubious about this one. Age often comes into it as well. Age, we’re always older each time we’re pregnant. And so your body’s, it’s harder on your body. So there’s just, and you know, then
life circumstances, all sorts of different things come into it. So there’s all these different sort of confluences that come together. So managing some of those was quite hard. And so as you say, I ended up having to to help Kate in the shop. So we even had the film crew there one morning and they were filming me sort of prepping chicken and cutting tomatoes and whatnot and and all that kind of stuff. Wow. Just to try and sort of help her out in the shop and things like that.
think the hardest thing was when she developed COVID. And that was about week six or seven of the pregnancy. And she’d already had really severe morning sickness. And then the COVID on top, she was hospitalized with severe dehydration and she was spotting. So we were terrified that we were looking at a miscarriage. That was a very real prospect at that time. And we were completely helpless, you know, under COVID isolation rules, she was in sort of isolation by herself. She was being encouraged to sleep all the time. So we weren’t getting a lot of information coming through.
It was just, it was terrifying to be at home and unable to help her, unable to sort of know really what’s going on. She was trying to give us what updates she could when she was up to it. But that was, that was definitely the toughest of the whole journey. The things that are out of your control. Yes. Yes. You do feel very helpless and very, I think that’s one of the quirks of Saragas and Katie even said that to us. She said, I don’t know what it would have been like to have been
the IPs on the other side of it, because she said, I got to feel the baby’s first kick and kick every night, basically, when I went to bed. So there is that bit of distance. No matter how close you are as a team, you’re living in separate houses. You’re not experiencing the pregnancy minute to minute. So it is a bit sort of confronting in some ways like that. But we had very early on a group, sort of like a team messenger chat group.
So we were kind of getting minute to minute reports and Kay would be like, oh my gosh, here’s the baby thing. And she’d actually send us videos and she’s got the camera sort of looking down at her tummy in bed and just wait for it at, you know, 31 seconds, just wait for it. And you see this little book on the side of her tummy and things like that. So she’d be really sort of engaging and bring us into the process as much as she could. But there were obviously sort of limitations on that. Mm-hmm. Yes, because it’s a lot out of your control. But
But that sounds like, yeah, you had a team that tried to share the updates as best as you could and spending time together in person. And, you know, I guess for IPs listening, having a think about, yeah, how might they be able to help their surrogate out? Could they come and help her out with her work? Do they have the flexibility with their own work to take some time off to pay back that time, so to speak? Which also comes into the financials. So it’s a bit more, you know, I think we’ve spoken about this.
because you’ve got all your medical costs, your legal costs, the counselling, they’re all very sort of fixed in terms of pricing, but you’ve got so many random things that may or may not crop up that you almost guarantee you won’t have even thought of from the outset. They just kind of happen and you need to deal with them. So you kind of need some extra buffer attached on top of what is kind of the expected cost to cater for those. Yes. And another example of that was Kate develops during the pregnancy, these varicose veins.
and they’re pregnancy related. So it’s about the blood flow sort of going down the body. But they don’t actually treat those until at least six months post-birth. So even though, you know, the surrogacy officially ends three months after birth, there were still costs that we were sort of, you know, subsidised paying for K because it was all related. And we probably didn’t legally need to, but it was only fair. So again, it’s just…
it’s not, there is no rigid sort of fixed timeline. This is when the surrogacy ends. This is when your liabilities end. It just keeps going potentially. And it’s all up to you guys as a team to figure out what and how that goes. That’s a great example of the reality of what could happen and why you need to keep communication open and feel comfortable together to talk about that and to ask for it. Because I think I know of many surrogates post-birth who would just absorb those costs,
Arguably they shouldn’t when it’s related to the pregnancy for your child. So that’s a credit to your team there that, that continued there, good work. But I think it’s also about that trust that you sort of build initially and going into it. And if you’ve got that to start, I suppose that makes all the difference. And if you don’t really have that trust, should you really be working as a team to bring a child into the world? So true.
and that you’re trusting her that she’s not going to just be spending every medical appointment for her and all her kids tapping your card. Yep. Everything she’s going to do the right thing and just use it for the appointments that are related to that issue. Well, as we sort of sum up the evening here, is there sort of any parting advice that you’d like to pass on to our listeners? I think in terms of finding a surrogate that you don’t know, that’s something that we feel a lot of questions, a lot of interest in.
that trust element I don’t think can be overstated. But I also think it’s really important to kind of think of everything you do as an IP from the surrogate’s perspective. So the best example was, as you sort of mentioned in your presentation earlier, Anna, was the IP’s fear, oh my gosh, the surrogate would have legal recognition of my child and could run away with the baby. Yes, but the surrogate’s point of view is that, oh my gosh, these parents could disappear and…
We’ve got a baby that we are legally recognized for, responsible for, that we never wanted. So it’s a two-way street. So I think very much put the surrogate at the heart of what you do and make sure that you’re not just putting out, we need a surrogate, this is it. You’re actually putting out, well, we want to be parents because of X, Y, Z reasons. We think that we would be great parents because of this, that, and the other. So the surrogate wants to know,
not just that you’re going to be able to support her during the pregnancy, but you’re really at the end of the day going to be good parents and good responsible people for bringing up any child that she births. So just think about her perspective and everything that you say and do, particularly in your opening posts and your storytelling. Just put that at the heart. What is she going to take away from what I’m saying? That’s really valuable and it’s so heartwarming as a surrogate to hear
that is your focus is the surrogate because your baby was inside your surrogate. So if you have her as your focus, really your child is at the center of your focus as well. So just one last thing then, when you say you’ve really got to make sure that trust is in place, is there, how do you know when that trust is in place? Is it at a certain amount of time you spent together or is it a feeling? Or I don’t think it’s time. I mean, time kind of helps, but it’s not everything. I think you’ve
been able to go through a lot of the difficult questions. And when there are no more things left on the table where the other side’s response is ambiguous or unknown, or if you’ve got any question marks at all that are just kind of floating around, or any doubts, any red flags, gut instinct, I really hugely believe in. But yeah, so I think if there’s just anything sort of swarming around in your mind that just isn’t quite sitting right, you haven’t failed the trust yet, I don’t think.
And I think particularly in the early days of sorority dating, it’s very easy for IPs to just want to appease a potential surrogate and to say whatever they think that she wants to hear. That’s not what she wants to hear. She wants to hear the real you, because at the end of the day, you’re going to be the parents, you’re going to be one looking after this, you know, this little child. She wants to know that she’s actually choosing the right people to do this for. So don’t, whatever you do, don’t try and appease her. Don’t try and read her mind. Just be honest.
Oh, it’s like a team line at the end of a debate. That’s it. Be yourself. Don’t appease her. Take the sugar coating off. Don’t tell her what she wants to hear. Tell her actually how you feel. Yeah, because that’s going to be a big red flag for her on the trust stage. She’s just like, well, they’re telling me absolutely everything that I want to know. And frankly, they’re just they’re yes men. It’s not really comforting, I don’t think, from a surrogate’s perspective.
And vice versa too, you don’t want her to say yes. Oh, well, it is the same too, yeah, definitely. Yeah. So it sounds like, yeah, you guys were a great fit for each other. And you got through all of those questions talking together about it. And then you went on your journey and made Vivian. Yeah, yeah. And we made sure one of our early question marks that we had was Kate was very sort of gung ho. And we spoke almost exclusively with her sort of in the very early stages. A lot of our surrodating was during lockdown. So it was virtual.
We were very keen, Gus and I, we were very keen to make sure that Daniel and her kids were also on board, that it wasn’t just Kate wanting to do this for herself or whatever, that her whole family was on board. So we went to great lengths to make sure that we were satisfied that that was the case. So again, I think that’s important. Don’t overlook the partner and the Surrogate’s family as well, make sure that it is a whole of team approach.
And so by spending time with them in person too, or well, COVID pending of course. Yeah, so when we could, we were out sort of socialising with them and really sort of getting to know them in person. Yeah, as much as we could. That’s great, because they’re along for this ride too. Oh yeah, yeah, definitely. And yeah, the friendship that you get at the end is just absolutely amazing. There is nothing like it. You know, the surrogate and sort of parent relationship is very unique and very close.
So they are just part of their family and they are, you know, Auntie Kate and Uncle Daniel to Vivian. And they love that. They absolutely love that.
Thank you for joining me. If you’d like to see the photos shared in this webinar presentation, head over to our YouTube channel to watch the webinar. You can head to surrogacyaustralia.org for more information about surrogacy. Also check out our Zoom monthly catch-up sessions, which are a great way to connect with others in the surrogacy community.
Attending a Zoom is scary the first time, but there’s only ever one first time. We have all been beginners at some stage. As we say, it takes a village to raise a child, and in the case of surrogacy, it takes a village to make a child. So welcome to the village.
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