We are very much in the midst of all that is surrogacy prep at the moment.
The legislation in VIC is different to other states but even if you are not going through surrogacy in VIC, I will outline some of the questions we have been asked as they are relevant to all parties undergoing surrogacy.
So here is what happens:
- We have our 1st counselling session with the clinic, as do KiT/CaT.
- Once the 1st session has been completed, we are allowed to commence independent counselling and complete the personality test.
- Independent counselling consists of 1 session each for the surrogate and her partner and Intended Parents, separately. Then 1 session as a group.
- The 2nd counselling session is unable to commence until a report from the independent assessor is made and submitted to the clinic.
- The 2nd lot of clinic counselling also consists of separate sessions.
- Once this session has been completed by both parties, legal counselling/advice/reporting can commence.
- Once a report has been submitted to the clinic, the 3rd counselling session can commence.
- The 3rd sessions are joint sessions with the surrogate and her partner and Intended Parents in the same room together.
- If any issues arise between these sessions or after them, additional sessions can be scheduled
In this time, we have also made enquiries about insurances (I will have life and TPD covered by KiT/CaT should anything happen to me during the surrogacy. This will ensure my family are adequately covered financially) and we will begin a policy before transfer occurs. We have a lovely broker who has successfully provided policies for surrogates before, so he comes well recommended.
Hubby and I have booked a session with our lawyer. She is the same lady who I used for my last surrogacy- she is lovely, knowledgeable and thorough. She is able to accommodate us outside of business hours which is great!
When we submit our paperwork to the Patient Review Panel (PRP), we have to provide the following:
- Letter from KiT/CaT’s specialist advising why they are unable to carry a child (ie. KiT’s medical history).
- My letter/s from the independent Obstetrician assessment and the head Ob at our hospital stating why I am fit to carry and birth as a surrogate again.
- Certified copies of birth certificates from all involved- including our children but not Ethan
- Certified copies of all of our police checks (which required certified copies of identification to apply for!)
- Certified copies of all of our child protection order checks
- Independent psychological test report and counselling report
- Clinic counselling report
- Copies of legal advice letter
- Separate application form for the PRP
So lots of certifying going on! We are lucky to have a local Justice of the Peace who we can visit to get everything signed but it is a lot to go through to get everything together! I have to keep it all in the safe or my identity will be ripe for the stealing lol
We are working towards aiming for a post mid year review panel sitting but this will depend on the timing of reports and sessions etc.
So far, the independent and clinic counselling has been pretty similar. Both reports will be looked at closely to see if there are any major differences in answers to specific questions.
Questions we have asked (and will be asked) include the following:
Will the surrogate have adequate support during her pregnancy?
What support can Intended Parents provide the surrogate and her family?
How long will the surrogate/Intended Parents commit to the surrogacy? ie. How many transfers?
What is the arrangement for appointments/scans- who will attend?
What will happen at the birth- who will be there, what will happen with the baby post birth (ie. Skin to skin contact, Intended Parents staying at hospital), where will the child be birthed, will a birth photographer attend?
How are you currently communicating and how often? Who are the main parties communicating?
What is the expectation for communication once a pregnancy has been achieved?
What will happen post birth when the surrogate and her family requires support?
What contact will be had post birth?
What ongoing contact will all parties be happy with?
How does the surrogate and her partner intend to broach the surrogacy with their children?
Are the Intended Parents financially stable enough to fund the pregnancy?
What happens if the surrogate refuses to relinquish the child or if the Intended Parents refuse to accept the child?
What if any party separates, passes away?
How will reimbursement of costs be organised?
What costs have been agreed to and how will they be calculated?
How will the surrogate conduct her pregnancy in terms of consumption of alcohol, smoking, lifestyle, exercise?
Will the embryos be PGD tested (or similar), will antenatal testing be undertaken (ie. Harmony test)?
What happens if the child is diagnosed as having a disability before or after birth?
What do parties define as a disability?
What are attitudes towards termination?
What would happen if a multiple pregnancy were to occur?
What would happen in the event of a complication during pregnancy or birth?
What are parties attitudes towards some cultural/religious practices ie. circumcision?
What are parties attitudes towards vaccinations?
How will information be shared with others outside of the primary arrangement? ie. sharing milestones, making announcements, conduct on social media (or blogs! 🙂 )
Are all parties aware that the child will legally be considered that of the surrogate and her partner (if applicable)?
Are all parties aware of the process to claim parentage post birth?
What will happen if any issues arise between parties or if there is a breakdown in communication?
What a counsellor is looking for is similar values/attitudes towards each of these points and whether any differences can be worked through and discussed ahead of time. This enables them to get a pretty good idea of whether the arrangement should go ahead or cease.
Of course, may answers to questions may change between now and a pregnancy/birth and parties are made aware that this could happen and we chat about what would occur if the situation did arise.
Counselling with KiT/CaT is progressing well. We had already spoken about most things that came up and we haven’t had any surprises yet which is good. We are all on the same page with everything and have a pretty good communication plan set out if something ever comes up. I feel confident that I will be a well supported surrogate and they feel that I will carry the child to the best of my ability and communicate any needs I have. Hubby is happy with the way everything is going as well, because his needs too are extremely important. We celebrated our initial counselling with “Counselling Cake”- a tradition started by a wonderful surrogate and IM that KiT and I know. It was delicious and I am pretty sure I consumed about 1kg of it over 3 days…
Whilst I wont give you all of our answers to the above questions, if you want to know something specific about any of the points, ask me in the reply box below and I will answer.
Things have and haven’t changed since counselling from 2013 and now. Although a lot of the questions were the same with our independent counsellor, her increase in experience with surrogacy cases between then and now was highlighted in her replies to us and to KiT/CaT about specific situations that might arise. She is very good at looking at things from all perspectives, but in particular, her thorough focus on the surrogate and her needs (including her family/partner) is great for all parties to discuss in more detail. And if questions weren’t answered sufficiently, she asked for more information or clarification. I feel she has really expanded her knowledge on surrogacy since last time based on all of her clients in between and although I have always been a fan, I am even more of one now!
Clinic counselling has also changed a little. Our counsellor was very much focused on our previous journey in our first session- what we learned, what we would do differently this time. She communicated that a lot of what she would have asked were things we already knew because we had been through the process before. The initial session was definitely about her finding out more about a surrogacy experience in hindsight- something they don’t usually get to do. I would like to think that our information will assist her in her future sessions with new clients- things to consider, things that came up that we didn’t anticipate, how we handled challenges etc. It is one thing to have a standard set of questions, it is another to have questions based on the viewpoint of a previous experience. Our next sessions will be a little more about the “now” and our current journey.
There is a LOT of info in this post but this is what surrogacy is like- this is what you can expect going into and through the process. It isn’t meant to be all wonderful all of the time. The foundations you put in now will form the basis of a healthy relationship in the future which is so important. No one can predict how people will act/react once a pregnancy is achieved but these fundamental discussion points are a good start to put plans into place in case anything comes up. As our lovely counsellor said- “You can have the healthiest pregnancy and best birthing experience but if there has been a breakdown in communication with any parties, you will not look back on the experience as a positive one. If issues arise during pregnancy and birth and all is communicated well and parties take a united front, the journey will be reflected on as a positive one”. This is so true and I can vouch for this given shared experiences within the community.
Finally, I would like to thank those who supported me both publicly and privately after my last
vent post. I didn’t intend the post to be one that required validation of me and what I have achieved etc. I don’t need that validation- my life doesn’t revolve around what others think of me unless they are my children and/or husband! I am very confident in myself and what I want to achieve in life and am proud of my achievements thus far. But that doesn’t mean that the replies weren’t appreciated- they certainly were and I am always grateful to those who take the time out to read my posts and reply to them. The post was written to highlight the value that we can give to one another in this community if we just take the time to learn about it and not jump in head first. There is nothing wrong with sitting back and watching for a bit, doing research, asking questions and learning from those who have paved the way before you who have some wonderful insight.
I will never NOT answer a direct question about surrogacy, so if you have something to ask, ask it! There is no such thing as a stupid question. I encourage questions!!
I am still on a self imposed FB/surrogacy community ban. Whilst the frustrations and disheartened feelings I spoke about in my last post have dissipated significantly upon said vent and reflection, I am still under the pump with Uni and assessments and getting my head around all of that, so I will be quiet there for a little while longer. There are a few concepts of one of my units that I am struggling to get my head around and I need to focus instead of getting so easily distracted by social media!! Procrastination at its best lol
I don’t want to make anyone feel like they cant get in touch though, so please, if you want to chat, contact me. I will let you know if I am up to my eyeballs in semiotic analysis, interpellation and textual analysis and can’t talk straight away!
I will come back with updates on future counselling sessions as they arise. Thanks always for your continued support xo