Episode 23 – How to find a surrogate
Guests: Trudy, Alex and Carlo, Sue
Hear from 3 sets of Intended Parents who have been active members of the Australian surrogacy community.
* How do I find a surrogate from family/friends?
* How do I find an unknown surrogate?
* How long will it take to find a surrogate?
* What does it mean to be ‘active’ in the community – online and in person?
* How do I put myself out there without being fake?
* How do you stay positive when others find a surrogate before you?
* What else can I do to increase my chances of finding a surrogate?
* When do you decide to stop looking or go overseas for surrogacy?
This episode was recorded in September 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, and my aim is to raise the level of awareness of surrogacy through these conversations. This podcast is a recording from a webinar that I host, and you can find more details about those and upcoming dates on our website at surrogacyaustralia.org. The regular webinars are free, go for an hour, and we’ll take you through how surrogacy works in Australia. You can ask questions, typing them in anonymously if you prefer.
and you hear from a co-host who has navigated surrogacy in Australia, either a surrogate, a gay dad or a straight mum. This episode, recorded in September 2023, is slightly different to our standard webinar series as it involved three sets of co-hosts, Trudy, Sue, Alex and Carlo. Let me tell you a little bit about each of them. Trudy and Tom are IPs, intended parents, from Sydney and their daughter Bonnie was born in August 2020. Their surrogate was Tom’s sister, Sarah, who lives in New York.
with her husband and two kids, so their journey was definitely not straightforward and one in the height of COVID. They then had a failed sibling journey in the US in 2022 through an agency with a different surrogate. This year they have started a domestic journey with a surrogate they met through the Australian Surrogacy Community, ASC, which is in the approval stage. So Trudy has a few years of living in the surrogacy world both internationally and domestically with surrogates who were strangers and one who was family.
We did have some technical issues on the night with Trudy, so apologies in advance for that. Sue from Brisbane has known for 20 years she would need a surrogate due to a hysterectomy in her early 20s. Sue and Roger have been active in the Australian community for many years and did find a surrogate and had one embryo transfer before the team parted ways. They then explored permanent care through the foster system, but the child was reunited with their family.
and will welcome their baby girl in December. Alex and Carlo are based in Brisbane and have been an active part of the community for a year. They are active in our monthly Zoom catch-ups, come to nearly every webinar that I host fortnightly, and have hosted in-person catch-ups. They have recently had an offer from an egg donor in Perth and a local surrogate whom they have been surrogating for a few months. Both these women were previously strangers and are now friends for life.
The questions we discuss in this episode, you can find in the show notes or on our website for the relevant landing page for this particular podcast episode to save me time listing them all out here. I hope you enjoy this episode. I think I’m gonna start with Trudy because your first surrogacy journey, you did find a surrogate through family and friends. So I’d like to hear from each of you. How did you go about that? Did you actively try and for each of you find a surrogate from family and friends?
And then obviously Trudy, how did that come to you? So I found out in 2018 that I needed surrogacy. So I joined the Australian surrogacy community. And at that point, I hadn’t told a lot of people about, like they knew about my IBF journey, but not my surrogacy, because that was kind of a rude shot to people about it. So over the next couple of months, I gradually started telling friends and family about it. And it was honestly through talking to my inner circle
you know, a few people actually said, hey, I could do it. I had a friend first up from Brizzy who offered, she’d always said, if I need a surrogate, I’m your woman. And, but she didn’t pass the medical unfortunately. And then my sister-in-law was over visiting from the US for Christmas. And we had hidden everything IVF related around the house because they didn’t know about our journey. But we left, accidentally left a surrogacy branded pen on the table.
table and she saw that and said, what the hell is this about? We told her, you know, that we needed to have a baby through surrogacy and she just offered on the spot to us. And strangely, she actually had said to us that she’d had a dream five months before that she was our surrogate. So it was this really weird kind of thing where she’d already been to her obstetrician and got the all clear. She talked to her husband about it even before we knew we needed surrogacy. So it was really weird.
It feels like that one was meant to be. So it was definitely true. And your dream. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it felt like it was just meant to be that one. But again, it’s just like it was a pen that was left out on the table, you know, or a conversation at a long lunch, a boozy long lunch was how the other one happened. So it was just talking to people in your inner circle. And…
I think that for me was the best way. I’m not someone who can sort of post online. Into a community, I didn’t know many people, so I sort of used the family and friends option first. Yeah. And so we sort of know from the community that about 75% of teams, three out of four, will find their surrogate through somebody that they know. So that really has to be something that we promote about.
How do you share with your friends and family? So Sue, same for you, I’m assuming in some ways, you know, it was known among your friends and family or over the years you’ve talked about it and I guess nobody stepped forward.
so to speak, and is that something that you tried or you kept it a bit more private? Well, I went through different phases because my journey is so long, but I guess there were different family members that had offered. My sister did, my cousin did, I had friends that offered, but unfortunately none of them actually came to fruition. So I think sometimes when you share a story and people really want to help.
they’ll offer sometimes without fully thinking it through or exploring if, if they meet the criteria to even be a surrogate. And that’s what I kept coming up with. And so you keep going through these emotions and feelings where you get really excited and this time it could be the one and it’s going to happen. And then it doesn’t, you’re back where you started again. And I think they’re going to be emotions that people listening can relate to. There might be people that offer and say, you’d make great parents. You know, I’d love to do that for you, but, oh, but then they.
for medical or personal reasons. And what about yourself, lads, Alex and Carlo, is that, did you try and find one from friends and family? That’s often the common question. Yeah, we did. Actually, we didn’t start with friends and family. We kind of just started with everyone. We were like, where do we start? And you do your Google searching and then you find information about it and then you join the webinars and then you join ASC and then you talk to people and then it just kind of evolved. We went to a couple of events and then we started just talking to people.
in our friends and family network and quite a lot of the response was like, oh my God, I’d love to do that for you. And then you start going, okay, but let’s just take a little step back and just work out what this actually means rather than, and then, and quite often it doesn’t, once they understand a little bit more about what it is, it’s not for them, but that’s okay because really trying to immerse ourselves in amongst it, um, along in the community anyway.
But we informed ourselves, so we had talking points anyway to be able to, so we kind of had a better understanding, so when we were talking to people, things like Sarah Jeffords book where you really want someone to make an informed consent about going through this journey. So if they offer, not really an offer until they know what it’s really about. So did you find that you were, as you say, educating your friends and family on the way about surrogacy and even if nobody steps forward, then they’re learning things about it too? Absolutely.
Yeah. And even, even now when we’re talking, talking about it, even I was talking to my people leader or my manager at work a couple of weeks ago, explaining what’s going on and he was just questioned.
question after question, I just was not expecting it. Because even that was nice to just be talking about it with a manager at a bank essentially. So, who’s male? But he was just super excited to just even just ask him how’s this work and what happens then. Nothing about work, but just about us. And that’s, I love that how that you’re educating people through all the things that you’ve learned. So, well, staying with you guys, ultimately you shared your story among family and friends and then engaged in the community
people and learning from them and ultimately you have found a surrogate from within the community. So the classic question is how did you find an unknown surrogate then? Well I think we did amass ourselves a little bit so we got educated, we turned up to your webinars and we find out a few bits of information and then we joined the community groups on Facebook and then we attend some of those events. When you just start learning and making friends with people that when you turn up to the events you just knew anyway and you’re like I’ll just talk to anyone.
And then you just try and form those friendships. And I think that’s how we got started in the community. And people give you their experiences. And I think that’s really important to share that, just not their knowledge, but their experience within a community. So then it kind of helps you to understand a bit better.
sat there like an ASC just watching and observing and not saying anything and just maybe the odd life and that’s about it. And then we were very much prompted, influenced, pushed, told, whatever it is, to get our intro post out there. And we’re like, on that day, that was the day we become super engaged, really proactive and make absolutely every single effort that we can to immerse ourselves in the community, which is why we went and created an event up here in Brisbane when we were down in Sydney
we actually organised a cat shop there. So it’s good just to kind of just put ourselves out there and let all our guards down, really surrender to the person and be super vulnerable, which is I think is completely outside of our comfort zones, but you just got to do it. If you want a baby, a baby. And then eventually it just becomes, I wouldn’t say natural, but it becomes easier. You know, the more you do these things, the more conversations you have, the more you learn and understand.
I think the easier it becomes. And we’ve always said that we’ll talk to anyone and everyone. So we’ll talk, we’ve got lots and lots of IPs that we talk to regularly, both in Queensland, in New South Wales, in…
South Australia. We’ve got quite a few surrogates that we have no ever intention of even forming any sort of arrangement with, Anna’s one of them, who we have really great conversations with about their families, perhaps their journey and certain things that they go, can I ask a question around what IPs might think about this? There’s nothing in it for anyone in terms of any expectation, but just helping everyone along as well, rather than us going over that mainly.
for us and we just don’t want to talk to them. So keep maintaining that and we have lots of chats going on every single day with lots of different people. It’s actually really lovely. And that’s good that you’re finding the positives out of that but I’m imagining people being new and listening going that could sound exhausting, you know, and being that vulnerable. And I remember thinking if I was an IP, it’s almost like having another part-time job on the side. The amount of time investment, as you say, into the Facebook communities to keep track of who everyone is.
and the conversations that are going on and building those friendships and connections with others is time consuming and can be exhausting. So Sue, onto that for you, you’re someone that’s been in the community as well. So you did find a surrogate that was unknown to you. Were those similar techniques that you employed to connect with her? It was similar from the point of view that…
I decided very early on that it was actually a surrogate that had written a post and it was something like, don’t focus on outcome or the journey, just focus on the friendship. And I was like, yep, that’s the best strategy. And that’s something that I could really connect with because, you know, for me, I’m a people person and I love people. And so it was like, okay, I’m just going to focus on the friendship and whatever.
I’ve already been on this journey for a long time, so let’s just make it an enjoyable one. The surrogate that we connect with put up a post. She was saying she wanted to find somebody locally. And then I said, oh yeah, yeah, I know that place and I know this place and I know that place. And then she messaged us, oh, you really are local because you know all the shops and everything in the area. And I’m like, yeah, I am really a local. And she’s like, okay, well, can we catch up? And I was like, okay, we can catch up. And so we had coffee and…
she offered within the first meeting. And so, yeah, it all happened very, very fast for Roger and I, and it was a very exciting time. But yeah, that was through the community. And it was just, I guess it just happened to click in a line where she wanted somebody who was locally and we were locally. Yeah, so it’s all similar things, techniques there, coming in for the friendships. And so Trudy too, I know you, you know, we’ve become friends over the years and then.
You embody, you know, an altruistic journey. And I know even when you did your American journey, the connection that you’ve made with your surrogate there has still continued, even though she’s got new IP. But then deciding on a sibling, you were immersing yourself back again into the Australian community. So is there anything extra to add from what these guys are talking about that you did to find that unknown surrogate? I’m not good on the posts online, so I was never going to be someone that does a lot of posts. I’m not into putting a lot on social media.
I’m like Alex and Carlo, I need to be in person with people. So I’ve gone to a lot of the catch-ups over the years and I’ve actually met a lot of people through the community and talked to them as well. You tend to connect a lot with IPs because they have similar journeys. So I’ve got a lot of really strong, like Sue said, very strong friendships through the community and a lot of them were with…
I say retired surrogates, so people like Anna and Madeline, there’s a heap of surrogates that I am very friendly with that I kept in touch with as well because when I was on my journey it was good for advice. I was asking a lot of advice because my sister-in-law was in the US, so I asked a lot of questions of them. I think I kind of re-entered the community at the beginning of the year just because I was a surrogate.
I used the term dipping my toes in, because I just wasn’t sure if I could do it again, having the failed journey overseas. And I just happened to, I popped into one of the catch-ups and recognized a heap of people there that I hadn’t seen in years. And one of them was my now surrogate, Julie, who I thought was a retired surrogate, because she’d given birth about a year before my daughter, Bonnie, was born. So we talked a lot about the process and what happens after birth.
all the things that I needed to ask, you know, what happens after birth, she can answer those questions. And yeah, that night we just caught up. We’d never met in person. We’d always just talked online. Yeah, it was so strange. Like I went for one drink and it was the last one out of there. And so with a potential surrogate. Yeah. And even then, like I honestly thought she was a retired surrogate. So we caught up a few more times and had coffee and I just about fell off my chair when she said, you know,
told her she was mad, like to even consider it. Yeah, she offered and I was floored, to be honest. So it was very unexpected. Yeah, but I think it was friendships. It was like a genuine friendship that I’d had four years earlier. So I’d spoken to her in 2019 for the first time and yeah, 2023 when we sort of caught up in person. And so that’s, I mean, over time, it’s a long time, but yeah, there’s just this genuine friendship there.
behind. Yeah. And I think what I hear from that too and for people listening is that so focusing on those friendships both with IPs and experienced surrogates come in with that idea I want to learn from you but not just learn actually build a friendship connection and I know in Trudy’s case when Trudy at the start of the year, you know sort of let it know be known to the community that she was you know looking to do a sibling journey in Australia the surrogates talk and so there was that
Oh Trudy would, she’s a great IP, you know, who would carry for Trudy? And so who’s in a position to do that? And so because if she had that time of being genuine and in-person catch-ups too, so I think that’s the advice to people, that’s how you find an unknown surrogate. In that meantime you still may find a known surrogate, somebody may still step forward, but it’s coming in with the focus on the friendships first and then not so much the baby, but of course in the hope that that does happen. But obviously some people have…
don’t have time on their side or want things to happen in a quicker way. And so hence why some people might go overseas. One of the next questions then is, I don’t know if it’s possible to answer anybody that wants to start us off. How long will it take to find a surrogate then? Alex and Carlo, is there an answer to that? It depends how tight your elastic is, how long you can stretch it out or let it numb you. It really depends. Like I think there’s some people we know who are very focused on one particular area.
So maybe known, sorry, maybe focused on friends and family. And it is challenging trying to put yourself out there. But if you’re all in and you go all out, then and just be your genuine self. Tend to find, well, that’s basically all we’ve done. We’re not experts in doing this and we’ve made some mistakes and we’ve tripped over a few times and go, well, what should we do differently next time? How can we be a bit more involved? How can we be a bit more engaged? There’s a lot of people talking all the time in the background. So if you’re doing positive things for positive people, then hopefully putting yourself up there in a positive light.
I think that’s true. Do you think, just sort of side tracking on my own question there, would some people set themselves a timeline of how long I will try and find a surrogate in Australia before I sort of cut my losses and go overseas? I know that’s probably a question I’ve got later on. Trudy, to you then, any advice? Yeah, that was a big factor for me because of my age. I had limited embryos after my first journey with Bonnie. So I only had a certain number of embryos. I was 42 years of age and I tried to make more
couldn’t and so I…
I sort of, I knew that the only way that I was guaranteed a surrogate was that if I went overseas, because, you know, through, through the U S it’s, you know, almost a hundred percent guaranteed that you’ll be matched with a surrogate. So I wanted to know that I wanted to try those embryos and if they didn’t work, I then would have potentially still the option to try here in Australia to make more. Had I done that in Australia, I could have waited years and years and, and it might’ve been too late for me to make any more. To be honest, lucky I did do it that way because we, we had the failed journey, used all our
and of course I went straight into IVF mode over here in parallel and took me a very, very long time, but I managed to make one, you know, over just before, as a 44-year-old, which is pretty unheard of. But yeah, if I’d not gone overseas and I’d sort of waited in Australia, I may have missed that opportunity to try again. So I think when time is not on your side, especially from…
you know, the ladies point of view, we, you know, it’s a lot of money to make embryos. So the lady you’re doing it, the less likely it is to work. So I think that played a huge factor in us going overseas. Yeah. St. Sue for you. And you had an Aussie journey and you got to transfer stage and you have gone overseas. At what point do people say, how long does it take to find an Australian one? When do I go overseas? What would you say to that? For me, I think the best advice I can give people is to explore all your options.
and kind of decide what fits with you, your lifestyle and who you are as a person. Because I’ve met really lovely IPs who say, look, I’m really an introvert and I find the catch ups and things really overwhelming. And so I’ve chosen to go overseas because I know that I would struggle in Australia to find a altruistic surrogate.
And then I’ve had other IPs who’ve gone, you know, I’m getting to later on in my life. I’m going to try looking at ultra altruistic for the next four years. And if that doesn’t happen, then I’ll go overseas. And then I’ve, I’ve met other IPs who’ve explored all their options and just said, whichever one comes first. That’s what I’m going with. So, you know, I think it’s just always good just to keep your options open and, you know, be true to yourself. And it doesn’t hurt to, to research and perhaps attending like.
a growing families event where they present you your options about overseas surrogacy and we talk about the domestic surrogacy a bit too. By all means, do your research in all of the options and find the one that’s the right fit for you. Alex and Karlo, have you got anything to add on that? In terms of at what points the point when you go do something different or go overseas, we hadn’t set ourselves a timeline, but I think we might have got to a point if we were still going at a certain point in time going…
is this working for us? Like, I guess when we started, we didn’t think of anything other than just starting in Australia. But I think if we were still going to, maybe five years later, maybe two, we probably would have looked at other options by that point. So I guess that’s something we would have addressed when the time came, or if we felt like we were just banging our heads against brick wall for years and years. I think even if we hadn’t, we still would have taken part in the community, because I think it’s really important that
We build foundations for, because we always think at the end of this, like it’s about the best interest of our child. And we want a community to surround them with it, that supports them. And so if, even if we did go over there, we’d still want those foundations and friendships that we’ve got here because that in essence is going to help normalize all of this for our children.
Yeah, and you can never have enough babysitters either, right? That’s right. And I agree so much with what you’re saying there, that so that your kids that grow up, all of you here, and all of those listening too, that they could see another family who has two dads. Or for when you’ve got a mum and a dad, that they can go, oh, whose tummy did you grow in? And that it’s totally normal not to grow in your mum’s. And so that’s the world that we want to see. And so, as you say, engaging with the community to make friends who might do Aussie surrogacy or overseas.
but then your kids can hang out together with a story that looks like theirs, I think that’s a pretty special thing to aim for. In terms of then being active in the community, what does that mean? What advice would we give to people? And how do you do that without being fake? We have already talked a bit about this, but anything else you’d like to add, Alex and Carlo? I guess for us, we always had that vision of who do we want to be in the community and that end goal of having our child.
take part in that community. So I think we went in there trying to be the best version of us, like try to avoid that scarcity mentality because that just puts fear in your mind and then it changes who you are in like those social situations. We really wanted to just try and be who we were on a general day to day so that we can find those friendships and those people we normally connect with. And I think that’s what we really tried to do. Yeah, and I think we evolved over time. I think we just threw ourselves in whatever we did.
And then over time, we started understanding some real key principles that we believed in. So things like we’d just always be our genuine selves. We’d always have open and honest communication with whoever we’re talking with. We didn’t want to fall into the trap of being opinionated and political and things like that with anybody. So we wanted to keep it really just about whoever we’re talking about or with our about our journey and be genuine about it. And every decision that we’ve kind of made whenever we’ve been sort of engaging has always been about the best interests.
of our future child, whether they’re a child or whether they’re an adult, like and way beyond our lives as well. So I’m making decisions for them for the whole of their life rather than just, you know, for the baby kind of thing. So- Which is to get the baby. Yeah, that’s right. And making sure that decisions we make are aligned with that. So you can hold your head high and going the journey that we took, be it Australia or overseas, altruistic or commercial, we did it being genuine people, not transactional.
warmth and love in our heart to bring our child into this world. That’s the journey we went on for you to get here. What about you Sue? You know you’ve been someone that’s been active and have supported people in so many ways in attending like monthly Zooms and all the support you’ve given. How, what has active meant for you and how did you do that without being fake? I think for me I love people so it was always going to be genuine. I know myself from my own journey because it’s been so long is that
Before I found the Facebook surrogacy groups and was able to go to a catch up, all these Zoom chats or learn more about it, I struggled for many, many years on my own. And it’s a very isolating and very lonely place. And you can talk to your friends and family who can conceive naturally and they go, oh, I really feel, oh, that’s so awk.
but it’s like they don’t truly understand. And so when I found the community, it was just so wonderful for me and for Roger, because it was like, we’re meeting people just like us, like who’s been here, who’s on the journey. And it was just so exciting. I think for us, it’s more about how do we create a work-life balance, because there are so many people in the community to connect with. It can get consuming. Like I’ve had weekends where I’ve caught up with three or four different.
you know, people on one weekend and that’s on top of the catch-ups and then on top of the messaging and everything. So it’s just about creating the work-life balance and thinking about how much time do you actually have to dedicate to that friendship.
Yes, definitely finding that balance. Be engaged but also balance it out. And Trudy, except your screen looks frozen. Oh is it? Oh hang on. Your voice is back. I’ll ask you then. So what about yourself in terms of trying not to be fake and what does it mean to be active? I think you mentioned before about for you it was easier to attend in person and then it’s much harder to be fake isn’t it when you’re actually in person with somebody. Yeah I think that’s it. There’s so many ways to be active that you’ve just got to find the way that is genuine with you.
putting a lot of posts on if that’s not you, don’t do it. Because I think if you, when you do try to be someone that you’re not, you tend to attract the people you would not be best matched to as well. Or I think you see a lot of relationships fall apart as well in the community. And sometimes a lot of that is because people are trying to be what they think surrogates want them to be. I think starting at the point that if you are yourself, you’ll match with the right person that you’re supposed to match with and kind of go in there with that.
of you because as soon as you’re pretending to be something else like it’s setting up a friendship you know in a bad way so I’ve I’ve heard the bad stories as well as the good you know there there’s a lot of both sides well I’m going to add in an extra question then what does fake look like if you’re watching other people in the community surrogates and IPs have you observed fake or what you feel is in
not very genuine, what does that look like? I think it’s things like, and I’ve had firsthand experience talking to people who’ve had this happen where they think, you know, they may say that they want this, you know, extended family when they don’t actually mean that, you know.
post-birth and so that they say, you know, I want to take holidays with my surrogate and her family afterwards But they don’t actually mean that if you know It’s a lot of those sort of things where I think I think there are surrogates that don’t actually want that as well And so I think by being genuine and saying this is the kind of relationship that you want or this is the kind of I guess Journey that you’re looking to have I think being honest about that
number one like you can’t promise something that you you’re gonna break that promise as well because that is setting up for a breakdown in a relationship and you know the important as Alex and Carla said you’ve got to remember that if a child is born of this relationship too they have a right to know who brought them in to the world and you know they’ll want to know who that surrogate was that did that thing for them all those years ago so it’s really important to keep that that
friendship and that journey a really genuine one. And sometimes you only learn the hard way as well. We sometimes say for IPs, under promise and over deliver. What is a good saying in the community? I mean, and we can have fakeness from IPs and surrogates. What about Sue in your time? Have you witnessed people fakeness? Look, I’ve definitely seen it. And I definitely have seen people make lots of promises to surrogates.
prior and during journeys and then it being different afterwards. And I know for myself, it always fills me with this great sadness because I think for me, it’s about, you know, if you’re talking about that you want your child or your children to know where they came from and that person and that relationship has deteriorated, how are they going to know that person? I think it’s very much what Trudie’s saying. You just really need to be genuine from the beginning. Alex and Carlo, did you want to add anything on that?
maybe serial posters or serial commenters and things like that in the community, which is great that they’re being engaged, which is great being seen. But is it always genuine? Is it really feeling what the post is about that someone’s maybe given an exciting piece of news or a sad piece of news? Is there a really genuine response? And how did you feel when posting the comments like that? I think for us, there’s some things we just love hard on.
It doesn’t require anything to be commented on. Sometimes you feel a genuine need to put a comment on there. And that’s where sometimes you think, well, not everyone’s like us, but that’s how we feel. Like if we feel genuine enough to put a reply out there, then we will. In person, it’s harder to be fake, I think. I think every catch-up we’ve been to has been quite a few since, over the last year. I feel like everyone just is much more relaxed and conversations just happen.
because you’re there face to face, you’re not trying to really impress anyone. And these in-person events tend to be more about engagement and being present and being supportive of everyone there, whether you’re a new IP, whether you’re a parent through Soar to Sea, whether you’re a Soar partner to Soar, it doesn’t matter, or family. And it’s just nice to be immersed in that environment. And I feel those are more genuine across the board, which is why we love going.
I think we’re weaving together all of the questions really in one go here. It’s worked out quite well. So maybe just to finish up on our set of questions before we hear from others in terms of that, maintaining your energy then. And one of the questions I had posed there is how do you stay positive when others find a surrogate before you? We’ve also talked about this time investment too. So how do you manage your energy levels? Like do you ever take a break from the online community or do you set aside, I’m only going to spend this much time.
or I’m going to tap out for a while and yeah how do you maintain that positivity when things are happening for other people? Alex and Carlo hit us off again. I think Alex is a lot better online than I am. The play to your strengths as a couple perhaps. I think we just keep that end goal in mind and I think the little rewards along the way are those friendships. I think the positivity comes with what you’re putting in. You’re kind of getting out a little bit anyway even though
you’ve got those little rewards along the way, these people who share their experience, these friendships that you’re developing. I think that really helps to bring warmth to the community and that’s why those catch-ups are so important for us as well. Yes, Bernice, all we talk about in our spare time is either renovating the house or servicing. We have nothing else to talk about. That’s all right. But I think we, like even just maintaining those friendships like Carlo said, is just really important, even though…
They’re a mixture of surrogates and IPs and parents, and we catch up with different people at different times independently, and it’s a really nice thing to do. And that keeps us positive about our own journey. So, yeah, we got knocked back a couple of times last year. We got knocked back in terms of surrogate, and they did it through conversations, and they didn’t work out for whatever reason. But we still maintain the positivity around, this is gonna happen. It’s a complex world.
sorry to say, it’s not a very simple transaction thing, you sign on your dot line and boom, you get a baby delivered. It’s complex and it requires a lot of investment in building deep emotional and intimate kind of relationships as well. So keeping that in mind and keeping that angle in mind just keeps us going. You know, we heard a hurtful, that’s fine, we deal with it. You know, we talk about it amongst ourselves, even now we have discussions with our sorry,
planning and we’ll just work it out and just chat about it. And then again, like we said, be open and honest. And then.
you know, we have a nice discussion about it. Yeah, it’s that have the end goal in mind, but keep focusing on the friendships and the connections that you’re making there. Sue, have you found that over your time, have you had to have breaks from the community? I have had to have breaks from surrogacy altogether at times. And I think it’s really about, because it is such a long journey, particularly in my case, it’s about self-care and it’s about realizing that your life is more than just having a child and having a family.
So there are times where I’ve had to do some me things. There are times where me and my husband, Roger, will plan vacations for ourselves and we just won’t talk surrogacy or we’ll go out for dinner and not talk surrogacy. And that’s just to focus on our relationship because if our relationship isn’t strong and solid and we invite a child into that space, that’s not a good thing either. Yeah, we have had breaks to focus on us and I think it makes us a stronger couple.
Again, great advice for people that you’ve got to be strong as a couple. Sometimes in the two guy teams, you can sort of share the load, although sometimes one becomes the project manager or the relationship builder or the online presence, often in a hetero couple, it is often the woman that is the main driver of the time in the community and building those connections. So what about yourself?
Trudy, have you had breaks over time or how? Definitely. I literally got out of the community when I had the failed journey in the US because I just had to turn my back on surrogacy to kind of mentally and emotionally deal with that because it was, you know, I’ve had miscarriages myself, but to have a surrogate miscarry is just another level of grief. I tapped out for quite a while just to give myself the space and just work out what I was going to do next.
sort of thing is with, you know, with the hetero couples where we’re still sometimes going and doing, you know, IVF in parallel, it’s really, really hard to do, to focus on that and try to get your outcomes there as well as, you know, you’re also looking for a miracle that you don’t need a surrogate. So a lot of the time we’re doing that in parallel because we just don’t know if we’re going to find a surrogate. So we keep, we keep in the IVF world just to try something new or ask a new doctor a new opinion. So that, I
parallel world of boring surrogacy and trying to be in the community as well as hoping that I didn’t need it. So I think that’s hard when you’re trying to do that in parallel. I have found that once I closed the door on myself and really dealt with that, I found it a lot easier to be more positive in the community as well and more engaging. I think there’s a lot of grief that we have had to deal with over the years.
Having that break, as Sue said, was what we needed to do to be mentally strong and just for our own self-care. It’s hard, but I think being in that community, there are so many positive people around as well. So sometimes I’ve said to lots of people,
people that when I go to one of those catch-ups, I’m filled with this energy that it’s so hard to describe. I’ve just been in a room with all these people that are exactly like, so it just gives you this kind of energy buzz that I just love and it kind of makes you want to keep going back for more because it is really nice to have that community around you. Yeah, that’s true. And I think we would all probably find that in the other communities that we’ve done in life. So people are brand new to surrogacy. You’ve probably had another community like through your sporting commitments or
music or your workplace. You’ve been in communities before and you know what that combined energy feels like. The surrogacy community can be the same. That’s probably a good opportunity to do a plug there to mention counseling and that it’s absolutely okay to engage in counseling. There are counselors who now specialize just in surrogacy to help you with this so be it for the the women on the path to surrogacy because every woman that comes to surrogacy has had a journey to get there. It’s not
you know, a happy choice. And for the two guys as well, you know, you have complexities to juggle as well in terms of how your family’s made up and also still managing that energy. And also if you have offers that don’t work with donors and surrogates and the grief that comes with that and picking yourself back up. So I think it’s important to have the community to lean on for your peers and also to remember that there are professionals who deal with this community the whole time and to look into engaging with them. I think we’ve wrapped up most of our questions here.
We do have an anonymous question here that says, is there a right or wrong way to have or not have an IP’s foot in the door such that no one’s offended and the IP also feels less anxious in initiating an uncomfortable discussion? Believe this is a very sensitive topic and a conversation may likely be very difficult to kick off.
Perhaps this question is adding on to, okay, if I am statistically more likely to find a surrogate among friends and family, three out of 14, 75%, how do you bring up that uncomfortable conversation, perhaps with your friends and family, without directly asking a woman that you think is, you know, childbearing, you know, ready to go? My impression is always to say to people, we need a surrogate to help us have a family. And that’s the path that we’re on, be it two guys or a hetero couple.
some people may or may not know of that journey and then you could say to them, oh we’ve been learning things, we’ve attended free webinars through Surrogacy Australia, we’ve joined this community, if anybody wants to know more about that feel free to ask it. Are they the sorts of conversations, like how do you bring that up then with friends and family, either online in emails or in person? Any suggestions? Was literally just, hey by the way this is what we’re doing, this is what’s happening in our lives, we are looking into surrogacy and I think that’s where those conversations could start.
So if you are trying to do that, that’s how we did it. And we had our conversations with friends and family. And if anything spurs from that, people know if they’re in an innate sense and some people where they feel that connection, maybe if they’re intrigued, they’ll ask questions about it. And then that’s where you might be able to help them find that information. Initially, I would just be what we did from our experience was…
We just told people what we were doing and then if conversations happen from there, they happen. So anything to add there to bringing that up with friends and family? I think for me, what I’ve noticed is there’s a couple of different ways that people go about it. In my case, I let everybody know that I was unable to carry a child and the only way I could have a family is with a surrogate. And so people…
in my family and friendship circles knew that quite quickly. But I’ve seen other couples, the way in which they approach it is they might do a post on their Facebook page and then that gets shared with friends and then that gets shared with friends and then that gets shared. So through a friend of a friend, they find a surrogate finally enough. You know, so there are different strategies out there that work. Yeah. And that would be my little plug that if you do do a post on Facebook telling people you need a surrogate.
Feel free to plug Surrogacy Australia as a free place to go to. They run free webinars for IPs and surrogates because then a potential surrogate might attend that webinar and do some research herself first before coming to talk to you. So if you point people in the direction of education where they can learn a bit about it first quietly on the side, use us, blame it on us. But Trudy, any other extra words there? I mean, you were saying way back at the beginning, it was just talking to friends and telling shared words.
I think it’s more that education piece. So I think I spent months just full-time researching surrogacy before I told anyone about it. Because I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know any of the legalities of it. So my assumption was anyone in my friendship circles would be the same. I kind of found out everything I could and then started to talk to people and, you know, told them my story and how it had led me to where I am. Tell them about the condition that I had and how that…
happened and that we were experiencing surrogacy. And then I would sort of talk about that, you know, there’s all the different options that we’ve got, you know, locally, someone we know through this community that we just sort of engaged in or overseas. And it was honestly through those conversations where…
Then people would just ask questions. Is it legal? Is it do they get paid? It’s just really basic questions that I think the more that you teach people about surrogacy the more comfortable than they become I’ve had a few just on a whim say yeah I’ll definitely do it and then they go away and have a think about it and a lot of the times it’s like, oh no
can’t do it, you know. And I think because they love you, your friends and family love you, they would love to help you do this. So it’s really, really important that, you know, the person that you actually end up having as your surrogate is someone that will be the right person for you as well. So my sister wanted to do it at one point and I knew she wasn’t actually emotionally capable of it and I let her off the hook. So I’ve had to do that a few times where I’ve said, look, I had a friend who I know.
wouldn’t have been able to handle it. And I told her, I just don’t think it would be good for your family for these reasons. So I think the more I knew about it, the more comfortable I was having those conversations. Yeah. And having talked to other surrogates about it going, oh, this is what it’s gonna be like for them if you’d be a good fit or not. So educating people along the way there. Two more questions here and then we might wrap it up.
This might be more a question just for Trudy, because Sue, you knew that you had a hysterectomy, so you couldn’t carry, and for the two guys, obviously. But I think the question here is about IVF, that for the women who are on that IVF journey and keep trying and trying different things, and the doctor keeps suggesting, we’ll try this one, is there a point in time where you go, no, enough’s enough? If the doctor’s saying, yes, you would fit the category for surrogacy, do that path where.
Is there a way to know when to stop Trudy? I’m probably asking the wrong person Trudy, because you… I was gonna say I’m probably the worst person, because I ain’t ever giving up. Trudy does not give up. Through her Asherman’s and Stripe. Even after having the first surrogate baby, she kept trying. So… Whilst Trudy’s connecting back up, I think this might be a broader question as well, because even for us, we might try so many transfers during our journey.
And that’s a really good question because we’ve been talking about that recently and we don’t know. And we think it’ll be one of those where we get so exhausted and everyone’s just over it, maybe, and we might just call it and then we look at it or something different. But again, it’s not something we’re going to go, we’re doing three, four, five, six times and then giving up. We’ll just, I think we’ll assess that every single time with our surrogate and then just work out what the next best move would be. Thank you boys for pointing that out. That’s…
perfect in terms of yes, it’s not just the women, it’s the whole surrogacy team. Do you have a limit on how many embryo transfers you might try together?
So one question here, I am a surrogate. I want to make friends with IPs just to get to know others in the community. Do you have any suggestions on how this can be done without the IPs getting their hopes up? I’ve heard of IPs being heartbroken even when a surrogate was clear from the start. My little bit I’m just gonna add in there is that absolutely as a surrogate, that is hard if you have to let somebody down. But as one of the sayings is you don’t owe anyone a baby. And just like if you were dating somebody and they seem like a really genuine person and they are a lovely person, but they’re not the right fit for you,
to date them just because they deserve to be happy too and they’re a nice person. If they’re not the right fit for you, it is going to be hard. There’s no doubt about it whenever you break up or part ways it will be hard and those conversations are tricky just like they would be in a breakup. So maybe talk to others to get ideas but if you’re just being genuine yourself and being honest leaning into that discomfort, that’s okay. IPs do understand that. Alex and Carlo then, any suggestions for this potential surrogate?
It’s such a nice question as well, because I think one of the things that we learn with our sorority group is that at the very beginning we were having just general chit chat, you know, getting to know you questions. The unfortunate thing, and I mean this for sororities, is that they have the pressure to actually guide everything. Like they have to say when they want to move to the next stage, they have to make the decision to offer. As IPs, you can’t control that.
situation, right? So it’s there for the surrogate to do so the pressure is on for them that they have to guide this conversation. And I think surrogates then need to be like this question says about even being clear at the beginning is being cleared throughout as well. So we got to a certain point in our conversation where our surrogate turned around and said, I want to go second base with you. So that meant let’s now up the questions to being more really specific about your journey and what you want and your decisions in terms of us as a couple one and what
see as a team and that was really good for us because it meant that we were quite clear that that was that wasn’t an offer but it was second base and we’re getting to in the nitty-gritty now.
And then I think just you can get a feel on both sides as to where that conversation’s going and just keep checking in. That’s really helped us, I think, get to a point where no one felt like it was uncomfortable if we had to part ways or if we were gonna go forwards. And I think being really, again, open and genuine with the conversation just really helps move you to that next stage together rather than, you know, IPs thinking, this is the one for me and going this direction and the service thinking questions aren’t being.
aren’t kind of what I’m expecting. We’re not kind of, I’m not feeling it, right? I was just going to say, but as IPs, I think we understand the situation and that is the case. We are appreciative of that. And I think that if it doesn’t work out, I think we want that journey to be special as well. We also appreciate, we want the best interest for our friends. And usually, even if it doesn’t go through, you’d still have that friendship. So I think that that is also something to take away from that. Definitely. Bit that I’ll add is I remember
essentially going to second base with my IPs. It wasn’t an offer, but it was saying, I want to offer to take it more seriously with you. And for us, it just changed the language. Instead of it was, what would you do with your surrogate? It was, what would it be like with me? And the language changed to us instead of a hypothetical team. And I remember that was quite a shift and that just helped deepen those conversations there. Sue, what about yourself there for?
Any suggestions for that potential surrogate? I actually genuinely feel for surrogates because they’re outnumbered. Like to begin with, I always think of it this way, that for every surrogate there’s probably 20 good matches. Like it’s really hard.
And I think for me, not that I’m a surrogate, if I was a surrogate, I would be very similar to Trudy’s experience of just going out and making friends and seeing who I connect with. And then people that I feel a real strong genuine connection with and I’ve got to know over a period of time, I’d probably offer to them. I just think that the matches, there’s just multiple options out there and you really can’t be everything to everyone. Yeah. Trudy, any advice on that question there from a potential surrogate? Maybe it’s also…
getting to know the other surrogates really well too. So another kind of option is to really, you know, the surrogates that have been in the community for a long time, know the people. You know, the IPs talk about, you know, the surrogates in the IP chat, surrogates talk about IPs in the surrogates chat. I think, I think that’s another way where you can kind of talk, like get to know the surrogates in the group and then help them.
or sorry, ask them to help you find a good match if they know, you know, as soon as they get to know you and they know other people in the community, maybe there can be some kind of a way of, you know, meeting through the other surrogates there. Because it is hard, as Sue said, the surrogates are so outnumbered by IPs, it could be very overwhelming. You want to strike up a conversation, but you don’t want to sort of give false hope either. It is hard. It is really hard surrogate, I think. Indeed, yeah.
talking to the other people that you’ve made connections with, it’s probably an opportune moment for me to then just mention SASS that we run through Surrogacy Australia is another option. If you’re looking for a bit more of an agency style where.
we can help introduce potential surrogates to IPs that we think might be the right fit for them. You get to look at the profiles of all of the IPs and create your own profile, but based on what we’ve got to know of you and through your mentor session that you have, and IPs having their mentor session too, we can make recommendations who we think might be a good fit for you. So that’s coming from the wisdom, I guess, of myself and the mentors that help run SASS as well. So if you’re not quite sure about how to do that right.
that might help. Obviously then still there may be the conversation down the track about if they’re not the right fit, how do you do that? But then we can sometimes help with those uncomfortable conversations to help guide you or make suggestions on that one. I hope that’s helped to answer that surrogate’s question. So but before I sum it up here, is there any, from my co-host here, as you’ve been listening to all of this, is there any last bits of parting advice of anything you’d do differently or anything you’d like to say? Alex and Carlo, kick us off.
There’s so many things. I was going to say, watch the webinars. They’re actually very, very good and informative. Like Anna, I take my hat off to you, the way that you interview people, get the information and actually make it understandable in a way that people can apply it. I know from our experience of it, all we think of is counseling, counseling, counseling. If in doubt.
council it out. Yeah. Oh, new catchphrase we got here tonight, people. I think for us, just be your genuine self, get involved, make as much time as you possibly can when you’re getting started. You’ll probably taper off when you spend a lot of time and doing it and you might have waves when you have more time and less time, but really just get involved and just immerse yourself in it. It’s such an awesome place. We were so skeptical at the beginning and…
And then we’re like, let’s give it a go. Let’s not go overseas. Let’s try it here first. And now we’re like complete 180. We’re sold. It’s here. You are advocates for this model now and believe so strongly in it. So what about yourself? Anything you do differently or last bits of parting advice?
I’m trying to think what I would add. We’ve spoken about so many good things tonight, haven’t we? I guess for me, because my plan is to be involved in the community for a long haul. So I look forward to meeting some of you. Absolutely. And Trudy. I think it’s really important to explore all options too. I think as Alex and.
Carla said, you know, they were exploring other options that they felt Australia was right when they’re in the community. And I think that’s important that you find out everything you need to know about all the different options to try to work out what’s the best one for you and your family. Because you know, Australia is hard, but overseas is just as hard. So they’re both hard and it just depends on what you want to get out of this journey and your timeframes.
The catch-ups for me are the best way of meeting people and they are scary as hell the first time you go. Like it is terrifying. Even though we’re all adults and we… Yeah, it is absolutely terrifying. I know, it’s so scary.
Yeah, and even for me, the second one was scary. So it’s really, you know, after you’ve gone to a few, going to the seminars and talking to people, I met my surrogacy bestie through there, like, and her and I have been friends for years now. And you know, it’s through those those in person things that I think you can actually form a genuine connection. And so another plug there for if you’re in the Facebook groups, there’s in person catch ups in your state. And also through Surrogacy Australia, we run monthly catch up sessions.
through Zoom, so you can be anywhere in Australia for those. Thank you everyone for your feedback. Alan there in the chat said he literally began researching surrogacy today and saw this webinar. So that is perfect timing. And I think just some of the comments that we’ve got there, he’s excited to hear the community is about friendships and being genuine rather than self-promotion. And one of the anonymous comments has said that they’re hoping to find a surrogate sooner, but organically. And I think that’s the message my co-hosts here have put forward to you tonight. How to do it.
But I think the thing they’re really walking away with tonight, the message I think has really come through, is focus on the friendships. Come in and be genuine, be yourself, value everybody in the community and connecting with them and learning from them. And you will do everything that you can within your power to put you on the path to having a baby. I think, yeah. Thank you for sharing your time with me for this episode. If you are finding these episodes helpful, please share them with friends.
If you’d like to see other recordings with images, head to our YouTube channel for all of the recordings. If you’re looking for more individualized support, consider joining SASS, Surrogacy Australia’s support service, so you can be connected with a mentor and also with me to help guide you on a journey. You might think of me as your Siri for surrogacy. Until next time, welcome to the village.
Looking to find a surrogate in Australia? Consider joining SASS.
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Looking to chat with other IPs and surrogates in a casual setting? Join us for a monthly Zoom catch up, one Friday of each month.