“Why don’t you just adopt?” – Questions asked of surrogacy patients

So often on the path to surrogacy, well-meaning people ask “Why don’t you just adopt?” This question, while well intentioned, shows a certain naivety about the process of adoption including the incredible challenges, costs and complexity.

Medicareless interviewed Arielle, a mother from surrogacy, who first looked into adoption carefully before going down the surrogacy path. Here is her story.

BUBS!

Arielle’s beautiful sons from surrogacy in India

What medical reason do you have for needing to look into adoption or surrogacy?

We started to try to fall pregnant in 2005 and expected the ‘happy accident’ to occur naturally. The years passed and we realised something was wrong so we saw a fertility specialist who announced that we were ‘infertile’ simply because after a year of trying, at my age (32), we should have been pregnant already.

Did you try to fall pregnant yourself? What happened?

We started the IVF journey not longer after this bombshell was dropped on us. And then we tried and tried again for the next 6 years. We were never given a reason for it not working, I just simply couldn’t get past the 2 week mark after each transfer. And with every attempt came the devastating realisation that we were not successful and that with time ticking away things would only get harder. I suffered so much pain and grief during this time. So much soul-destroying confusion and despondence. People kept telling me to be positive and keep trying. And somehow, after each round of IVF and the grief that followed, I always got back on the horse and tried again. Physically, psychologically, spiritually – I was crushed. Adoption was always in the back of my mind as a road we’d go down when the time was right, but as you are not ‘allowed’ to be undergoing IVF when applying for adoption, I needed to wait until I was ready to stop trying to have my own baby. This is in itself was a huge step to take – to let go of falling pregnant, experiencing motherhood in the ‘normal’ way, and seeing a child grow up that came from within me and looked like me.

When did you first think of looking at adopting?

It certainly wasn’t when people – who knew our pain – would flippantly remark “Why don’t you JUST adopt”! This started happening in the first year of our IVF journey and it was simply insulting. Even after 6 years of IVF I wasn’t quite ready to look into adoption. I still had some hope of carrying our child and -not even realising just how hard it would be -adoption still felt like a very hard ‘other’ road to travel.

What was it that attracted you to adoption?

After all that we’d been through in the better part of the last decade, we decided that adoption would be a better option than putting ourselves through more tortuous rounds of IVF. I thought logically that if we followed the steps given to us to adopt, did the courses, reading, interviews etc we’d end up with a child or children within a few years and finally have the family we yearned for. We also felt that it would be a wonderful thing to bring a needy child or sibling group into a loving family. We had so much love to give and so many years of parenting that had been preparing for – we felt so ready to adopt after 7 years of failing to start a family the natural or IVF way.

Describe the adoption process.

We first had to wait for the introductory seminars to proceed. That was the first chapter of waiting. So we decided – ok let’s adopt! And then found out it was 4 months until the first seminar was to be held. We waited patiently. We attended the seminar with open eyes, ears and hearts and met many other hopeful ‘intending parents’. The coordinators were very empathetic but warned us that the adoption route could be extremely challenging and that only a small percentage of people would get to the finish line, mainly because of the time and commitment it took to go through the process. We did not yet have an inkling that the challenges would mostly be due to the small number of children that are placed in Australian families (from overseas). We were advised to choose overseas adoption as Australian children are mostly fostered into known families. And we were only able to select one country to adopt from. We were told that this country may change it’s relationship with Australia at any point and close the adoption program. So to keep reading up on current laws and changes in case it affected our chosen country’s program.

We then proceeded with the interview process. This went on for a year and cost over $10K. We would rush out from work to meet with the social worker who would investigate everything about us and our lives and intentions for the adopted child. We were told to be prepared to move house, learn a new language, attend picnics with other adoption families, travel to and from the child’s country of origin and blend aspects of their culture with ours. We had to be prepared to be open with the child about their origins when the time was right. We understood why they asked of us these commitments…and we were more than willing to compromise in every way we could if it meant we could have a child of our own.

We also had to learn about an excruciating check-list of ailments, ‘defects’ and historical matters (such as incest, addiction, abuse) to let the program managers know that we were prepared to live an adopted child that could have any number of debilitating illnesses, deformities or social impairments. We were told that the less boxes ticked the less chance we’d have of being matched with a child, so we ticked them all.

Around that time we also had to give up notions of adopting a baby. At our age (38 by then) our best chances lay in putting our names down for older children (4+) who were more likely to have had a background of abuse or neglect. So we ticked away, hoping for a small miracle,  and hoping that we’d be matched with a relatively healthy, and if possible, happy child. Unfortunately, we knew the chances of this were very slight. Still, we forged ahead, knowing that we would cope with no matter what or who came our way. We were by that point simply desperate to hold and love a child as our own.

So when did you start looking into surrogacy?
We were towards the end of the adoption interview process which had taken about a year and was already very costly both financially and in terms of time. Friends we’d met through the adoption seminars had already been to an Indian Surrogacy Clinic (that I’d also seen featured on the ABC’s Insight program earlier in the year, when surrogacy was still a strange concept that ‘other people’ did but certainly not us!) and within a couple of months after returning home – they had announced they were pregnant with their surrogate. I had been to India 12 year’s prior on a soul searching adventure and had a great affinity with the country and people. And although we were still a little freaked out by the concept of surrogacy, we began to normalise it via the hundreds of questions we asked of our friends plus some online forums and groups I joined. As the adoption interviews neared the end we found out that our country of choice had a wait list of about 1-2 years to GET ON the actual wait list for child placements (being only 10 or so placements per year from this country!) And THEN the long 3-6+ year would begin. Not only that, but we were advised to keep checking online for changes in the country’s adoption program as it could close or change at any time and that could impact us immediately. This could mean starting over with another country/program and certainly after a few years with our getting into our mid-40s we’d have to reapply anyway. So given these parameters, at the best of situations, we would be around 45 by the time we had waited the 6 or so years to adopt.

Adoption was, in a nutshell, a host of uncertainty and painstaking waiting whilst enduring daily pangs of childless grief, while we watched our friends come home with a baby via surrogacy. We began to think about hopping on a plane to India and giving surrogacy a go – our final throw of the dice (as it’s been called recently in a Radio National story!)

As we waited for our social worker to go to the loo during our final adoption interview – just before she announced that we were (in the eyes of DOCS) deemed ‘fit’ to be parents’ (!!) – we looked at one another and said “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” – and with a nod and smile we both just said the hushed word INDIA. Within months we were there…the lead up to going was so hectic – juggling work, surrogacy research, finances (the surrogacy was only possible by digging deep into our mortgage savings), visa applications, checking out legal implications and always managing our heavy hearts. At this point and after so much failure we didn’t seriously think surrogacy would work for us. We just needed to tick the box in order to tell ourselves that we’d tried EVERYTHING to achieve our dream to start a family.

On the way to India we decided that this was really it – one trip, one try and then a new journey: hit 40 and create a new enriching life without children. How we’d do that was still a mystery to me, but I knew that I didn’t have any puff left in me after this final – and at the time strange and scary – attempt at starting our family.

How did surrogacy work out for you?

Potty!! 042

Finally, we have the family we’ve always dreamed of and feel especially lucky to have been blessed with twin boys Leo and Noah who are now 6.5 months and thriving. We feel proud of ourselves for having undertaken the surrogacy route especially with all the strangeness and fears that it presented to us. In the end, we realise that by taking matters into our own hands this way and taking a few risks fulfilled on our dream to have a family in a much shorter time than adoption would have. Much as we would have loved to embrace a child from another country with our love and create a family this way, the Australian programs just make it seem so out of reach and near impossible to succeed. Surrogacy didn’t give us any guarantees as an option but it did work for us. We’ll forever be grateful for our surrogate and everyone involved who helped us to make this happen.

What would you say to people that say “Just adopt” or “Why don’t you just adopt”

Do some reading! And don’t think that a grieving mother or father-in-waiting is prepared or even able to give up on having their own child so easily. I would say to those with children – imagine if someone took your children away. How would you feel? Would you ‘just adopt’? As this is what it felt like to me – that someone robbed us of having our own children. Adoption was always going to be an option, but the spiritual crisis presented by not being able to have your own child is never going to be repaired by the concept of adopting.

Surrogacy Myths: The career woman too busy for a family

Is surrogacy a choice? Do women choose to allow another woman to carry their babies because they are too busy to do it themselves?

All too often when we start conversations about surrogacy, certain repeated themes come into the conversation. One of those themes is the idea that surrogacy is a choice. That it is something women may choose to do because they have a solid career and are ‘too busy’ to take the time to gestate their baby. Or they are ‘too old’ because they have ‘spent their lives working on their career’. In other words, people question: ‘why should we support you when you have made bad choices and are now paying the consequences for those choices?’

We heard this myth of the busy career woman in the interview last week with Dr Andrew Pesce, former head of the Australian Medical Association. While we were happy that he supported our cause for equal treatment under the Medicare laws when accessing IVF for surrogacy, we were saddened to hear him bring the ‘mythical career woman’ into the media interview.

Let’s consider this notion for a moment. Just who would this mythical woman be, that would prefer another woman to have her own baby for her? Let’s look at the case of Nicole Kidman as a prime example. Not only is Nicole potentially quite rich, famous and a very busy career woman, but she also used a surrogate to have her daughter Faith Margaret after giving birth to her first child Sunday Rose.


<Image from JustJared.com >

On the surface, Nicole Kidman could be this mythical woman. She could be the busy career woman/ celebrity who is ‘too posh to push’. The obvious question then is: Why did she keep trying so hard to have her own baby?

Kidman spoke to Who magazine about her depression, and repeated pregnancy failures:

“I had tried and failed and failed and failed. Not to be too detailed, but I’ve had an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriages and I’ve had fertility treatments. I’ve done all the stuff you can possibly do to try get pregnant.

Every woman who has been through all those ups and downs knows the depression that comes with it. So the way it just happened with Sunday was like, “What?” The percentages were so low. It is the miracle in my life.”

So if you scratch the surface just a little, any journalist worth their salt can see that there is very likely to be some underlying issues regarding WHY Nicole Kidman choose a surrogate to carry her precious second child into the world. In her own words, Kidman says in an interview with People magazine back in 2007:

“There’s a complicated background to that, given that I never speak much about many things. One day maybe that story will be told.”

Yet many persist in saying she represents this myth of a career woman who isn’t interested in carrying her own baby. We here at Medicareless believe that this example shows that celebrities can have infertility issues too. That just like the rest of the world, being rich or famous does not exempt you from being the 1 person in 6 that will suffer from infertility. In all likelihood, there is a very sound and MEDICAL justification for Nicole and Keith’s decision to use a gestational surrogate to carry their child.

The mythical career woman in Australia

To continue with this analysis – with maternity leave, the expanding right to flexible working arrangements to help modern families with implementations such as working from home or job sharing – what woman would feel the need to use a surrogate to aid her career progression? In fact, Australia topped a list of 128 countries by international consulting and management firm Booz & Company for women’s access to education, equal pay, childcare and anti-discrimination policies. Should the career woman want a baby, she can have it.

And as unfortunate as the facts are – the glass ceiling is alive and well in Australia. So the likelihood that a woman is actually in an extreme position of power that requires her to not take time off to have a baby is extraordinarily low. This shows that if this mythical ‘I can’t afford time to have my own baby’ woman does exist, she is ridiculously rare.

In fact in the Sydney Morning Herald, October 17, 2012, Helen Conway, the director of the federal government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, said:

”In Australia, women hold just 14 per cent of board seats in Australian companies, just five CEOs of our top 200 companies are women and a quarter of our top 200 companies have no women on their boards at all.”

Ms Conway said more than 50 per cent of university graduates in Australia were women, but that had not translated to substantial increases in the percentage of women in corporate leadership positions. ”We are wasting our female talent,” Ms Conway said.

So this collectively imagined mythical woman, at the top of her career and totally focused on her position as CEO or CFO, unfortunately, is an incredible rarity and is not one we should be focusing on when discussing the very real, and very immediate needs of surrogacy patients wanting a family.  This rare case of a woman who is willingly “choosing” surrogacy should not be used as a political vehicle of manipulation to implement rules that deny the majority of genuine patients from medicare benefits.

So if it isn’t career, what are the real issues that require a woman to seek a surrogate to carry a child? We took an informal review from our small community and have made a list of the medical issues that have forced them to seek a surrogate to have a family. Note not one of them lists ‘my thrilling career’ as the reason for surrogacy.

All of these women deserve a chance to do IVF and receive equal treatment under the Medicare law when trying to have a family.

  • Age 35 : Survived cancer twice. Now in remission and wants a family. No children.
  • Age 36 : Severe fibrosis followed by multiple failed IVF cycles. Dr. confirmed that the patient would be unable to fall pregnant when she was 35. No children.
  • Age 31: Emergency hysterectomy aged 26 as a result of eclampsia/organ failure/hemorrhage during childbirth. One child aged 4.
  • Age 34: Severe post-partum hemorrhage and uterine inversion resulting in emergency hysterectomy at 34. Still 34 now with one six month old baby.
  • Age 38: Rare blood clotting disorder that causes deep vein thrombosis when pregnant. 3 failed pregnancies, each resulting in massive clotting with risk of stroke, heart attack, death. Began trying for children at 29. Recently recommended for surrogacy after another failed pregnancy and blood clotting episode. No children.
  • Age 40:  Autoimmune disorder, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. This caused the death of two of three boys (pregnancies). Now has a mechanical mitral valve after 2 open heart surgeries and is on warfarin which is counter-indicated for pregnancy. One child aged 4.
  • Age 34: Heart-double lung transplant recipient age 24 required due to developing pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure which resulted from a ventricle septal defect at birth. Risks of carrying a child include birth defects, very high risk of miscarriage, kidney failure, very pre-term delivery. No children.
  • Age 30: Cardiomyopathy (heart failure). Patient is healthy on drug therapy but cannot carry a child as she will have a heart attack or stroke and most certainly will die. Additionally the drugs are also not compatible with a developing baby. 21yrs old at age of diagnoses. Have been trying a number of options to have a baby for the past 4 years. No children.
  • Age 38. Heart transplant at age 26 due to a virus. No children but surrogate currently 9 weeks pregnant and all looking good for a birth due 26th November.
  • Age 35: Born without uterus. MRKH syndrome. Diagnosed at 17. No children.
  • Age 29: Hormone positive breast cancer at age of 26, had a mastectomy, did chemo, hercepton and radiotherapy. Cannot risk a pregnancy because of high chance of recurrence and on breast cancer medications that cause deformities when pregnant.
  • Age 35: Marfan Syndrome. Open heart surgery at 32 to replace aortic valve and entire ascending aorta. Life long warfarin therapy which is counter-indicated for pregnancy. Twin boys now aged 3 yrs born through surrogacy at age 35 on 4th and final attempt.
  • Age 27: Numerous clots. Clotting disorders- Antiphospholipid syndrome, prothrombin gene mutation g20210a and lupus. Age 16 when first diagnosed. No children.
  • Age 35: Emergency hysterectomy at 35 during childbirth. Have 10yo and 3yo sons. Did IVF for 6 years to have 2nd son (genetic condition means only 1 out of 8 eggs are viable). “Our daughter is in heaven”.
  • Age 30: Diagnosed with rare autoimmune disease (Takaysu’s Arteritis) at age 24. Waiting for open heart surgery and will be on medication that is counter-indicated for pregnancy. No children.
  • Age 32: MRKH Syndrome born without a uterus. Diagnosed at 17yrs. First gestational surrogacy attempt at 30yrs resulting in 1 child (now 22mths), lost her twin. Second attempt lost baby at 17wks.
  • Age 29: MRKH Syndrome diagnosed at 16 age. No children.
  • Age 42: MRKH Syndrome diagnosed at age 6. Not only not a full kidney but no uterus, no fallopian tubes, no cervix but thankfully has ovaries so did IVF last year & have 6 embryos ‘on ice’.
  • Age 27: Breast cancer, recurrence in lymph nodes when pregnant with son at 26 years old. The cancer was estrogen receptive, so doctors advised to not get pregnant again and that removal of the ovaries was a good idea to lower the estrogen to ensure no more recurrences. Full hysterectomy. One 8 month old child.

If you have been moved by this list, and feel that the Medicare laws that do not allow these women equal access to fertility rebates is unjust, please download and sign our petition before June 5. We welcome your support.

Alisa’s story – a cancer survivor who wants a family

In 2008, a week away from our 1st wedding anniversary I was thrown into a severe
round of chemo, radiation and brachytherapy. I was diagnosed with a very aggressive
and severe form of lung cancer that on very rare occasions attacks the cervix, which is what happened to me. I was given a 20% chance of survival regardless of my treatment, so it all looked pretty bleak.


<Image from: Journeying Beyond Cancer >

I managed to get through it with the help of family, friends and my wonderful
husband who made me laugh every day, I’m not sure how, but he did.

I don’t remember much of that time now, I did a lot of sleeping, crying and trying to
eat. I was determined not to lose too much weight as I’m quite slender to start with. I
guess you can say I was quite determined to stay alive. I still have everything intact,
but am unable to conceive or carry, which makes it very upsetting. For some reason
the choice to have my own family has been taken away from me. I am now 4 years in
remission. Right now we are looking very good. So I just want to get on with my life and that means following my dreams for a family.

Troy and I have wanted a family for years, even before we got married, but I wanted to be married first as I thought it was the right thing to do. We have nieces and nephews and so many friends with kids, and we just know that having a child will bring us so much joy.


So… after many years we are up to the surrogacy stage. Yes, it’s taken that long to get through the egg donation. We had a few offers from egg donations, but for one reason or another, they were not medically fit or time passed and we didn’t hear from them again and other ladies were helping someone else. And we’ve had a lot of stumbles too.

We eventually found a lovely lady and have 5 embryo’s freezing awaiting a surrogate.
The six month sterilization period will be up at the start of July, 2013.

We have been very fortunate to have had 3 surrogates offer, but for one reason or
another it hasn’t worked out. We are hopeful that someone out there will be able to
help.

At times we have been quite upset with the whole process to be honest and feel very lost and alone. It’s been extremely expensive so far, from taking intended egg donors and surrogates to the Dr’s – only to find that the lovely people who have offered are not “medically fit” to go ahead with, and the expense of traveling on many occasions. There’s no Medicare for any procedures so every time we start this process with someone new I am out of pocket again. And again. And Again. Still, we can’t let go of our dreams. We’ve come so far to get to this stage that we can’t just give up now.

We have also had a lot of trouble with the clinic we have been going to. Wanting
us to do things a certain way which doesn’t fit our situation, well to be frank, wouldn’t fit anyone’s situation. I won’t go into details. It’s caused a great deal of stress, but fortunately not on our relationship. The last couple of years have definitely brought us closer together.

We still have our eyes on the prize so to speak and know that we will eventually get
there. We are quite patient and know that an angel surrogate will help soon enough.

We have sooo much love to give it’s not funny. I think our cat is going slightly crazy from all the cuddles and attention it gets! Troy loves sports and I just know he can’t wait to have a child to go surfing or play football with, and I love baking and can’t wait to make special treats and birthday cakes for my much longed for child. We’ve got a big backyard planned for a pool and cubby house, and a lovely house we are slowly renovating and can’t wait for the day that we bring our newest member of the family home to share it with.

Our parents on the other hand are on another level!! They are already buying things! I’ve told them to slow down, but they are excited that we have the embryos and it’s only a matter of time and determination and we will find a surrogate.

Alisa

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If you would like to help Alisa as a surrogate, please get in contact with us via the Facebook page (linked at right). You can also support us by downloading the petition and collecting signatures – to help cancer survivors gain equal access to Medicare to have a family.

How much does Surrogacy cost?

So how much does surrogacy cost? Well this depends on a few things? But one thing is certain – it costs a lot!

To give you an understanding of what it costs I will include my own estimated expenses – plus the range other people have advised me. Please note that while some of the below costs are essential some may not be, each surrogacy arrangement is different.

Pre Surrogacy Counselling – $1500-$2000
Legal Advice both surrogate and intending parents – $2000-$5000
Review or draft surrogacy agreement – $1000-$8000
IVF Process (one cycle) – $10,000 – $18,000
Health Insurance for surrogate – $1000-$2500
Life and death insurance for surrogate – $500-$5,000
OB costs – $0 – $5000
Maternity clothes – $0 – $1000
Petrol & Parking – $0-$500
Intending mothers hospital fee – $0 – $5000
Loss of wages for surrogate and / or partner – $0 – $10,000
Post surrogacy counselling – $1000 – $1500
Post surrogacy legals both surrogate and intending parents – $8000 to $20,000

Other costs might be child care for surrogate, house cleaning for the surrogate just depends on what the parties agree to.

I should also say, intending parents are not rich, just people desperate to have children. Most people sell assets, borrow money, or withdraw from their mortgage.

I estimate my own surrogacy to cost between $50,000 to $60,000 and that may not even result in a child.

So a little help from Medicare would go along way.

Sign our Petition for Change to Medicare Laws

Our petition for the House of Representatives is now complete. We would love for your support in obtaining signatures. Everyone can assist.

Given this is a formal document; a strict procedure needs to be followed for us to be able to submit it to the House of Representatives. For example it is very important that each page is original.

Download the document by clicking on the below link in blue:

Petition for change of Medicare Law

Once you have filled your page or pages with signatures, please return it to us. This must be done via mail or dropped off in person as each original page must be submitted to parliament.

Return to:
Melissa Delaware
69 James Josey Avenue
Springfield Lakes QLD 4300

If you have any questions about the petition or what it is we are actually asking for, please do not hesitate to contact us or comment below and we will answer your questions.

Your support is invaluable and these changes are not possible without your support.

Thank you so much

Tracy’s Story

Our story is a little different than most involved in this process in that we are lucky enough to have 3 amazing sons from my previous marriage.

I was advised 5 years ago that due to medical reasons it was best if I had a hysterectomy. It was a very upsetting time full of confusion, disappointment and feelings of failure. I thought I would no longer be a real woman but held tight to the knowledge that I had my 3 beautiful boys and my life was full and my family complete, or so I thought.

I always wondered if I would meet another man that I would love and have a life and future with. I worried that if not being able to have children would be an issue and how could any man love me regardless. As such I decided not to look, that it would be best not to put myself through disappointment and heartache again, that I could be happy being on my own and I was luckier than some so be grateful for what I had.

So going along in my own little world one day I happen to run into a guy at my friends place. She introduced us for about 5 minutes and that was that. He could not stop texting our friend to organise a BBQ that night so he could see me, she did and we have been together ever since.

Tracy and her partner

Tracy and her partner

This man turned my world upside down, the love and affection in his big heart, the care and compassion he has for everyone is amazing. We talked about children and I had told him the first night about my situation, he had always wanted children and thought he could live without them as long as we were together. After seeing him with his nieces and god daughters my heart started to break as I told myself how could I do this to such a beautiful soul, how could I ask him to give up his dream of a child when I was so fortunate to have been though the experience of 3 beautiful babies. More than anything I wanted to share this beautiful experience with this man that loved me so much, this man that I had given my heart to and could never image living without. I wanted a baby with this man and I wanted to make our family complete.

One night at our friends she raised the issue of children, when I told her my situation she burst out saying well I’ll carry it. We were stunned, what and how could this be done. She continued to tell us that she had donated eggs to her cousin for IVF the year before and pulled out a book all about it. My partner and I said we would talk about and it was something we could look at later on. Our friend kept raising the possibility with each of us together and singly, we would casually discuss this at night whilst cuddle up and thought this could be a possibility as it would allow us to forfill our dream of completing our family.

I raised it with our older boys who light up with excitement and of course suggested a little sister would be a good idea. One afternoon on the train on my way home from work my partner called me, he is a long haul driver in the transport industry and calls me numerous times a day just to say hello and he misses me. He was away on a trip and called to see how my day was, I advised him that our friend had raised the issue about a baby the other day and he responded with ‘well what do you think’? Being a true female I said ‘well what do you think’? His reply floored me, he said ‘I think we should just go for it’ I asked if this meant he wanted me to start looking into the whole surrogacy think and he said ‘yes’. We were going to have a baby, or at least give it everything we had to make it happen. I was so excited and jubilant I almost squealed with joy but then remembered I was in the quite carriage and did a little wiggle instead.

Well I started to look into the whole surrogacy thing, the first thing I found was OMG there is not much out there that is useful and everything contradicts itself, the legislation and law is one thing but what and how this occurs is another. Then I stumbled across Hub Bub and that was it, I found so much information and so many wonderful people who really care and want to help. I am not alone, there are others out there and I found them.

I soon had a lot of info and started looking into clinics to try and get a price which is when I was advised that it is approx. $15,000-$18,000 and 100% out of pocket as Medicare does not rebate AT ALL. I then started looking into the legal side and costs and was advised that it is approx. $15,000-$18,000 and is NOT legally enforceable and that after all the stress, heartache and expense the GS could still say she is keeping the baby and there is nothing the law or us can do about it.

Well we are very lucky that our GC is a very close friend who has always and will always be in our lives and we will have no issue with the hand over. We do have issues with the costs of everything.

Due to my age 44 and turning 45 this year and the excessive costs of everything, this is it for us. We will only have one chance and that is more upsetting than anything. Medicare and this government have made it impossible for us (as is with many others I am sure) to go through this process again in the current situation.

General IVF Costs vs Surrogacy IVF Costs

Where ART is required to create embryos, provided a surrogate is not used, Medicare financially assists families by providing rebates. This is regardless as to whether the couples own sperm and eggs are used, they use donor sperm and eggs or a combination of both. Provided a surrogate is not used to carry the embryo Medicare will provide a rebate. These rebates are paid in accordance with the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and are not means tested.

Below is a table showing the average out of pocket expenses, couples can expect to pay when they do not use a surrogate:

IVF Australia, IVF Treatment Costs, http://ivf.com.au/ivf-fees/ivf-costs (February 2013)

IVF Australia, IVF Treatment Costs, http://ivf.com.au/ivf-fees/ivf-costs (February 2013)

Medicare does not provide a rebate for hospital related services, such as egg collection and embryo transfer. However Medicare may provide a rebate for the anaesthetist and those with private health may be eligible for a rebate from their fund. Out of pocket expenses for hospital related services range from $1,000 to $2,400 depending on whether the couple has private health cover.

With the assistance of Medicare, couples can expect to pay a total of $3500 to $5000 per full cycle.

There is no limit to how many cycles a couple may undertake during a year. In fact, the more cycles a couple does each year, the more Medicare will pay. When couples reach their annual threshold, the Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN) provides an additional rebate. Given it is usually necessary for a woman to have 3-5 IVF cycles before a successful pregnancy occurs , this can result in Medicare contributing $7,500 to $13,500.

Where a surrogate is used, Medicare does not provide any rebate for the IVF cycle. This is regardless of whether the couple use their own eggs and sperm to create the embryos or where donor eggs and sperm are used. Couples using a surrogate to carry their embryo can expect to pay between $16,000 – $18,000 for a single IVF cycle. In addition to these expenses couples using surrogates have legal costs, counselling costs and the usual pregnancy costs. Couples can expect to spend up to $60,000, provided their surrogate gets pregnant within the first or subsequent IVF cycle.

Why is it ok for the Government to help women with fertility issues but who can still carry their babies but not help women who cannot carry their own babies? There is no extra costs or extra procedures involved when a surrogate is used. The IVF procedure is exactly the same, except the embryo goes into another woman not the same woman.

For me personally I have never used IVF. I had no fertility issues. I had cancer, hysterectomy thats it. Can no longer carry my baby. I have just completed my first round of IVF. So far it has cost me almost $17,000. I only got 2 embryos. One embryo is currently, hopefully, growing in my surrogate. The other embryo is on ice. So I only got 2 shots. We cannot afford another $17,000. This is it for us.

If I had my own uterus. So far I would be out of pocket about $4000. The pressure would not be as great for one of these two embryos to become a baby, because we could have another go. We could afford another $4000. In fact 3 rounds of IVF with Medicare rebates would be less than what I have paid so far for 1 round.

Just seems so unfair to me. Why should I be treated differently to so many of my friends who have done IVF. Why should I not get a shot of having the family I always dreamed of?

These laws need to change. Equal access to Medicare Rebates to all those doing IVF!