Episode 6 – Education – How long does surrogacy take in Australia?
Are you an Intended Parent (IP) considering surrogacy but not how many months or years it will take? Once you’ve found a surrogate, how long might it take until you have your baby in your arms? How long do the different stages of the journey take? Can any stages be sped up?
Another valuable resource is the Surrogacy Process Chart created by village member and dad through surrogacy, Tyson. It will give you guidance on how long surrogacy might take, what each stage costs and what range to expect.
How much does it cost? Listen to Episode 3.
This page is part of a series of surrogacy education episodes from Anna. On the main podcast page you will find recent episodes and links to other categories: surrogates, gay dads, straight mums and guest / theme.
Join Anna McKie in conversation with surrogates and parents who have navigated Australian altruistic surrogacy. Anna is a gestational surrogate, high school Math teacher and surrogacy educator working with Surrogacy Australia and running SASS (Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service).
The other episodes of the podcast were recorded as part of our free, fortnightly webinar series. If you would like to attend one, check out our dates and registration links. The recordings can also be found on our YouTube channel so you can see the photos that are described in the recordings.
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
How long does surrogacy take in Australia? The quick answer, an average of around two years, but a range of 18 months to three or four years. Let’s break that down into what factors influence that range. There’s actually no national database to collect information on this, but I’ve done some data gathering and so have others in the community. My own team, it was two and a half years for us. Once we met, because we were initially strangers.
We took six months for surrogating, six months to complete the paperwork, then started embryo transfers. Two of those in back-to-back months, which didn’t work. And then their egg donor offered to do another egg collection because we’d run out of frozen embryos. Then a three month quarantine for those embryos. Then we transferred in a January and birthed in September, 2020. So from the first message of me to them, which was in April, 2018, it was two and a half years for us.
So those at the lower end, let’s say 18 months, I would say that’s usually for teens who knew each other beforehand because perhaps they don’t spend quite as long in that surrogating stage getting to know each other. In terms of the different stages of surrogacy then, how long could you expect each stage to take? I’m gonna do a little plug here for what’s called the surrogacy process chart and I’ll put a link for that in the show notes. This was created by Tyson, who is a gay dad through surrogacy, a member of the community, the village.
and he’s written this guide on how much it costs and how long it takes. So that’s a really great resource for you to use and have a bit of a guidebook for you on this journey. So once you’ve found a surrogate or had an offer from one, I would encourage you as a team to take three to six months to discuss what everyone’s expectations are for this surrogacy journey. Discussing these things is great preparation for the mandatory counseling later, as you’re gonna talk through a lot of the questions that the counselor is gonna bring up for you anyway.
Then allow six months for the paperwork. And by paperwork, I mean IVF clinic appointments, that mandatory counseling, and the legals, which is engaging with two lawyers. If you’re looking for more guidance on these steps where I break it down in a bit more detail, please join me in a fortnightly free webinar that I run on Wednesday nights. The stage with your IVF clinic, if you already have embryos, that stage might be a bit quicker. But if you don’t have embryos, you’ll need to be doing an egg collection either from yourself, if you’re a woman or a hetero couple.
or if you’re the gay guys, you’d have an egg donor, so you’re doing an egg collection with her, and obviously the appointments that go with that. Once you’ve collected your eggs, and they’re fertilized with sperm to turn into embryos, there’s actually a three month quarantine period. That quarantine’s actually for the humans, not for the embryos, because all of us involved in that egg collection process or as the surrogate, we have blood tests and STI tests to check for diseases at the beginning and the end of that three month period. And then there’s the phase where you try and get pregnant.
If it works the first transfer, we often just get lazy and call it a transfer as opposed to embryo transfer, then you would allow nine to 10 months for pregnancy. But if you don’t get pregnant on that first embryo transfer, then in theory you could try for back-to-back months for the surrogate cycle to try and get pregnant. But the surrogate might need a break from all of the blood tests that are involved with tracking her cycle, or she might be avoiding getting pregnant in certain months due to not wanting to be heavily pregnant over summer or due to pre-planned holidays, things like that.
Do also bear in mind that there’s no guarantee that any of the embryos will stick and that there might not be a baby. So it really is hard to navigate and it’s tricky to keep your expectations in check during this period. We like to say be cautiously optimistic during this journey. And all of these timeframes of course, are dependent on the fact that as IPs that you have found a surrogate. So from the time that you meet a surrogate, allow two years is probably a good timeframe for this journey, two to three years. So that’s quite a big project in your life.
But again, there’s no guarantee that there’s a baby at the end of all of this. How long does it take to meet a surrogate then? Well, it could be a couple of months, to a couple of years, to never. And I’m sorry to be a bit of a downer on that, but it is a reality. It sometimes comes down to how much effort you’re prepared to put in to spread the word about needing a surrogate or being active among the communities.
But at the end of the day, being altruistic in Australia, there are not gonna be enough surrogates that step forward to do this for the number of intended parents that there are. So it might be overseas surrogacy for you, or it might not be surrogacy at all due to the cost factor, and it might be a different pathway to have a family that you need to look into. How do you find a surrogate? Well, I’ll go into that in another episode, or you could join me in a webinar to hear the ideas that I share there. Basically, you need to tell your family and friends that you need a surrogate to help you have a family.
but don’t ask someone directly to be your surrogate please. Or to find an unknown surrogate, you might be connected through SAS, one of the introductions that we do there. You might think of us as the first surrogacy agency in Australia. Or finding an unknown surrogate from an online group. For those online groups, you need to be active and sell yourself a little bit, but in a genuine way and participate in the discussions that are going on there and support other people in their highs and lows during surrogacy, even if they find a surrogate before you do.
One way to join us is in our Zoom monthly catch-ups, which we run nationally. I’ll put a link in the show notes, or you can find more details on our website about that. If you’re finding these discussions useful, I would love it if you could leave a review wherever you listen to this show, and you can find more information at surrogacyaustralia.org. Until next time, welcome to the village.
Looking to find a surrogate in Australia? Consider joining SASS.
Looking for an overview of surrogacy? Join us in a free, fortnightly Wednesday night webinar.
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.