IPs in Brisbane – Our Ideal Surrogacy Journey

Posted to the surrogacy Forum this morning:

Hi all,

One of the wonderful surrogates in the FB Group suggested I write out our ‘ideal surrogacy’ journey, as this can be a way for potential gestational surrogates to connect with someone who needs exactly what they feel they have to give! ¬†ūüôā

Okay, so obviously thinking in ‘ideals’ and perfect scenarios, means that everything is open to negotiation! Because if IVF and infertility teaches us anything, it is that life is rarely fair, and never deals out the ideal! So take this with a grain of salt because we totally know that nothing ever works out the way you want it to. ¬†ūüėõ

Ideally, we would enter into a gestational surrogacy arrangement in Australia, and be able to use our own FS in Brisbane whom we know and trust; with a wonderfully generous woman who is willing to help us. Sometimes it seems like it might be ‘easier’ to go the overseas route, but we are not sure about knowingly entering into something that is clearly illegal in our state (Qld) ūüôĀ¬†… we are keen to do things legally if at all possible.

Ideally, our gestational surrogate would be willing to spent some time getting to know us over the next several months… we would want to maintain a connection with the birth mother (how close that connection ends up being, would need to develop organically), in order that any child might have the opportunity to meet and know the woman who enabled them to come into this world. For example, if we met a wonderful surrogate soon, ideally, we would look at doing a transfer in Dec 2014/Jan 2105…?

Ideally, our surrogate angel will have had a child/children of her own, or through some other means, fully understands the gravity and importance of what it means to go through a pregnancy and give a gift of this magnitude to someone else, and is mentally prepared for handing over a child to the intended parents in waiting in the wings. I think this must be very difficult.

Ideally, our surrogate miracle worker would understand the limitations of the legal framework that surrounds surrogacy in Australia, and would abide by any agreements (as we would). It would be our worst nightmare to enter into a surrogacy agreement only to have that surrogate change her mind and decide to keep our child. ¬†ūüôĀ¬†¬†I think that one scares us all.

Ideally, we would want to be very involved during the pregnancy and offer as much support as we can. At the same time though, I would not want to smother our surrogate angel, so would ideally love to meet someone who is able to help us find a happy balance – someone fond of (and capable of) open, straightforward communications; someone who is able to tell us exactly what they need, and is also capable of telling us to back off if we are too attentive! ¬†ūüôā

Ideally, our surrogate wonderbug would live close by so that we could offer assistance, and so that the baby could be born in a hospital local to us. Mind you, this seems unlikely somehow. So, if we found an amazing surrogate who lived far away, I’d love to be able to help them figure out their preferred birth plan at their local hospital etc.

And last but by no means least, ideally our surrogacy journey would lead us to forming a long lasting friendship with our surrogate and her partner (if she has one). I often think of my friendships as being as important as my family members and I can’t imagine going through something like this with someone and not coming out the other side with a special bond.

So that’s us thinking out loud in ‘ideals’, last night, and it probably makes not a bad jumping off point. We are not sure if it is of any use to anyone? But we are an open book … so feel free to ask us anything! ¬†ūüôā

Thanks for reading.

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Birthday Bait and Switch

Last week, the Small Child thought he’d make himself some Mac ‘n’ Cheese. ¬†You know, the horrid microwave kind, which passes itself off as food and has very doubtful nutritional properties. ¬†It’s stupidly easy to make, full of MSG goodness and the kid loves it, (though god knows why), all you have to do is tip the sachet of macaroni into a bowl, add water, heat for three minutes on high and then stir through the pretend reconstituted cheesy stuff. ¬†Simple right?

Unless of course you miss a vital step, like oh… I don’t know – adding water.

Then what you get, instead of Mac ‘n’ Cheese, is a house full of acrid black smoke, a useless microwave with burnt plastic walls, which now is only suitable for use as a temporary garden ornament until next kerbside pick up day. ¬†I really wasn’t planning on replacing the microwave any time soon… but can not go putting fabric wheat packs in the (vaguely still functioning) machine twice a day, because they’ll end up reeking of charred acrid smoke and shortly after, so too, will the couch. ¬†Yuk.

As luck would have it, it was the Small Child’s birthday in a week or so, and I decided to teach him a lesson about¬†forgetfulness, by telling that he was getting a new microwave for his birthday as a result of the Greatly Offensive and Injurious¬†Mac ‘n’ Cheese Incident of 2014. ¬†I let him do the retail research and he got to put together a purchase proposal, so you know, I kindly allowed him to choose which one we¬†needed¬†(much to his disgust), and then we duly went out and purchased it. ¬†Poor little guy was quiet and resigned throughout, feeling equal parts guilty at destroying the old microwave and despondent at the concept that the new one was to constitute his birthday gift. ¬†We then got a week of telling him that his birthday present was all sorted but that he needed some new slippers, so he might get some of those too. ¬†Little did he know, his actual birthday present had been ordered weeks ago…

As an avid young gamer, his eight year old hand me down laptop was his most prized possession and while it was okay for some things, it wasn’t really wasn’t cutting the mustard. ¬†So we had decided it was a good time to replace and we arranged for the whole family to chip in and help us buy him a new one – one that would hopefully see him through the next four years or so.¬†¬†Hopefully by that time, when he needs another upgrade – he can damn well get a job and save for it himself! ¬†But it served our purposes at the moment to let him think that a shiny new microwave was all that birthday had in store for him… it significantly reduced the ‘I wants’ in the lead up to said birthday, that’s for sure.

Anyway, birthday morning rolled around and so began the unwrapping of some underwhelming decoy birthday presents that I literally pulled out of the emergency present box (everyone has one of them right?)…

Well, Happy Birthday kiddo… I think that was exactly the reaction we were hoping for…. except for that weird, “I am victorious!”, exclamation, which mostly just tells me he’s been playing way too many video games already, and doesn’t have a suitable vocabulary to express elation!

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Healthy body needed.

Wanted: ¬†One gestational surrogate –¬†aka an angel or a miracle worker.

  • Preferably has had children of their own and has a comprehensive understanding of what surrogacy entails.
  • Must be fairly fit and healthy and preferably had little to no trouble with their own pregnancies/childbirths.
  • Most suitable surrogates are usually between¬†25-37 years of age (depending on health and personal experiences).
  • Must be a¬†non-smoker, and prepared to give up alcohol and take pre-natal vitamins for the duration.
  • Must be either single, or have the full support¬†of their¬†husband/partner.
  • Beneficial to have a basic understanding of the Queensland Surrogacy Act 2010 and/or ability to rapidly acquire knowledge of said act.
  • Patience, a desire to help others, and a¬†good sense of humour essential!
  • Oh, and must be prepared to go through with this¬†enormous undertaking, entirely out of the goodness of their heart… because any sort of compensation (tangible or perceived) is completely illegal. ¬†ūüôĀ

As is advertising for a surrogate or surrogacy service, in any form whatsoever. ¬†In fact, what I just wrote above is probably considered ‘technically’ illegal, or it would be if I wasn’t just thinking out loud, and it was published somewhere more serious than on my inane blog.

Mr K and I are currently looking for a surrogate to help us have another child, using one of the ten little embryos we have sitting in the freezer – the same ones that have been burning a hole in my heart every time I think about them for the last seven years. ¬†The problem is that searching for someone, when you are legally constrained from advertising for them, is quite difficult and fraught with pitfalls. ¬†According to the fertility specialists, you just ‘jump on those surrogacy forums and web pages, there are hundreds of women around who want to surrogate for people like you’… and when you dive into the forums, it’s true. ¬†There are women all around the country who are prepared to be altruistic surrogates for infertile couples… but how do you find someone you can trust? ¬†How do you build that sort of rapport and confidence in someone that you’ve just met?!? ¬†It’s a bit of an impossible ask.

But even bigger than the issue of finding a suitable and willing surrogate who actually has our best interests (and the best interests of any potential children) at heart, is that the legal framework surrounding surrogacy in Australia is inherently flawed. ¬†It neither protects the intended parents (IPs) nor does it protect the surrogate birth mothers. ¬†The central tenement that the law revolves around an idealogical concept that the state will never force a woman to give up a child she has carried and nurtured… that is, if the surrogate mother changes her mind she is under no legal obligation to give the child to the intended parents, even if she has indicated it was her intent to do so, even if she has signed legal contracts to that effect, and even if she has no actual biological link to the child. ¬†As a potential intended parent, that scares the absolute hell out of us. ¬†That you could entrust someone with your precious little embryo, and they could grow and nurture that embryo into a beautiful little child that I never could, and then if they change their mind at any point and keep the child, and use, as the intended parents; have no legal rights over our own genetic child. ūüôĀ

The other side of the coin – the legislation doesn’t protect the surrogate mothers very well either. This is a far less likely scenario and is a bit of a wild, pie in the sky, ‘what if’ – but In the unlikely situation that a child is born with a undetected congenital defect or suffers an extremely rare trauma during birth or any one of the number of unusual complications that can occur during pregnancy and childbirth, the intended parents can at any time refuse to accept responsibility of the child, leaving the surrogate mother, literally holding the baby – because according to the legislation, the child is legally hers until a parentage order and a re-issued birth certificate are sorted at one month of age.. ¬†So fucked up on so many levels. ¬†I could never turn my back on my child but it turns out that some people can. ¬†I’ve even heard of situations where childless couples have gone for surrogacy and then refused to accept their own genetic twins back, because apparently they only wanted one little miracle not two!¬†¬†Yes, that is an extreme example, but there are some unconscionable nutters out there.

Which brings me back to the original topic. ¬†If you are hoping to enter into an altruistic surrogacy arrangement with someone you have literally just met through one of these Families Through Surrogacy forums, how on earth do you ensure¬†that all parties involved have the same goals, the same expectations and the same intentions? ¬†How can you be sure they are going to follow through on the contracts that you’re both required to complete, when the¬†legal framework in place is insufficient to enforce them? ¬†It’s all good and well that clinics make all people involved go through counselling, but ultimately a handful of¬†counselling sessions seem insufficient to ensure that an endeavour of this immensity¬†doesn’t go south. ¬†One counsellor I spoke with said that the best surrogacy arrangements stem from¬†long established friends, or family members, acting as surrogates – because the people involved already have a perhaps longstanding desire to help the infertile couple. ¬†But how do you approach someone to do something like this for you? ¬†It’s just so huge, I think… quite literally the biggest thing you could ever do for another human being. ¬†:/

And I thought IVF was an emotional minefield.

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QPS Weapons Licensing Application Processing

Of course, the very day AFTER I sent a somewhat ranty letter to the Minister for Police and my local MP, Steve Minikin… the long awaited for license for my son, did actually turn up in the mail. ¬†Murphy’s Law or something, that one.

But I did get a phone call from a very nice supervisor at Weapon’s Licensing Branch yesterday, who did try and tell me that they were putting processes in place to try and streamline processing times for new applications. ¬†A couple of the things she shared I thought were worth passing on with people who have landed here after Googling for information on Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch.

What¬†everyone really wants to know is “Why is my firearms application taking so long!?” ¬†Well, that actually has a really simple answer. ¬†They are victims of,¬†A) their own success and B) the idiocy of the average punter. ¬†A while¬†ago, WLB implemented an online lodgement system to streamline their application processes. ¬†This convenient way of applying for your firearms license has made it much easier for people to lodge an application… however, it has inconveniently side stepped the police stations that used to receive applications and, importantly, it has side stepped the QPS officers and QPS administrative staff that used to CHECK that applications were complete BEFORE they made it to WLB. ¬†This means more and more applications are turning up at WLB that are incomplete and can not be processed. ¬†Incomplete applications are now requiring double and triple handling as Authorising Officers are going back and forth with applicants to obtain supporting documentation that should have been supplied with the original application.

Additionally, the perceived ease of lodgement situation has resulted in a 44% INCREASE in new applications over the last twelve months, but so far, (no doubt thanks the Newman Governments public service hiring policy) less than a 10% increase in staff to deal with the influx. ¬†The work unit processing new applications is seriously understaffed and the supervisor I spoke with estimates each staff member is spending up to 25% of¬†their day fielding phone calls from disgruntled applicants. ¬†That’s right, calls to check on applications and people taking out their cranky on the poor admin staff who are trying to get on top of it, is considerably slowing down application processing times. ¬†I am guilty of this one myself (most notably in the situation where my PTA application was lost and all my personal details and firearms licensing information was in the wind), and in some circumstances it is probably warranted, but if you’ve been forewarned that there is a minimum of 10-12 weeks for processing, there is probably not much point in calling up and wasting the time they could be spending actually processing your application.

So, I guess naturally, the next question is “What is WLB doing to fix the problem?”. ¬†Well, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as what my solution would be – HIRE MORE BLOODY STAFF. ¬†It seems they are a bit hamstrung on that one, though they are continually applying pressure to the powers that be to create more positions. ¬†In the interim, they have (probably just after my son’s application was received) started to implement a triage system, whereby certain applications are being speed tracked, so as not to be held up with the backlog. ¬† Applications like¬†Minor’s Licenses, Cat H licenses, PTA’s¬†for existing license holders, and various other “I’ve already been vetted by your people or I am 11, so am unlikely to have a criminal history”, applications are going to the top of the queue. ¬† After that COMPLETE new applications are being processed first so as not to be delayed by incomplete applications. ¬†Literally it sounds like anything that is received incomplete is being thrown in the ‘sigh, not again’ pile.

QLD-FA-LICENCE-V3-FSo, next logical question “What can I do to get my application processed faster?”¬† Well, the best thing anyone can do at the moment to try and expedite their application, is to do everything humanly possible to make sure your application is correct and complete. ¬†Double check you’ve got your ID info together, have a suitable photo attached, make sure you attach your safety induction certification, add a copy of your SSAA membership if you are a sporting shooter, or your letters of permission if you are planning on being a rural shooter, as well as any requested medical info that may need to be supplied. ¬†And then basically, do not send that sucker off until you have ticked all the boxes, dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. ¬†Best suggestion if in doubt – lodge it the old fashioned way at the Police Station so that some one can check you’ve got everything in order.

And then, there’s nothing you can do to speed things up, other than wait without calling every other week to interrupt them. ¬†Good luck!

Another day another Ministerial to the Minister of Police

Another day passes and more ineptitude becomes apparent from Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch. ¬† CAN THEY GET NOTHING RIGHT?!?! ¬†I have decided that I want my son to take up shooting with me, which actually means very little. ¬†He doesn’t have to be licensed to come shooting, he doesn’t have to undergo safety induction training and he doesn’t have to jump through voluminous hoops of untold amounts of legal bullshit and paperwork. ¬†However, as a responsible sporting shooter, it is my preference that my son does attend safety inductions, and does become a responsible member of the sporting shooters community and to me, that means doing the inductions and getting him licensed… I believe this has several benefits, it builds into young shooters a sense of belong and community, as well as reinforces the importance of responsible firearms ownership and management, which can only put them in good stead for the future. Yes, I know. ¬†I am so idealistic it is making me sick. ¬†The path to hell is paved with good intentions, so why the hell am I surprised that¬†Weapons Licensing Branch is pissing me off yet again! ¬†Months and months of delays… precipitating yet another fucking long winded ministerial to try and get some movement on the damn thing. ¬†I have included a copy of it here for anyone who might want to replicate parts of it for their own complaints – which I am certain the various MPs are receiving in bulk at the moment: Attn: ¬†Steve Minikin MP & Jack Dempsey MP CC: ¬†Manager Weapons Licensing Branch

Dear Messrs Minikin and Dempsey
I would write to say that I have recently gone through the process of assisting my son apply for a Category A/B Firearms license so that he may start to compete in Junior division target shooting competitions – but seeing that¬†104 DAYS, (of which, 74 were business days) have passed since his application was lodged via QPS Weapons Licensing Branch’s supposedly streamlined online application process, one can hardly characterise this as recent!
On February 22nd my son completed the compulsory safety induction course. ¬†On February 23rd, he was awarded his Statement of Attainment for same. ¬†On February 27th, his application was lodged online with Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch along with all necessary documents and the¬†fee of $155.25¬†was paid at this time. ¬†Some ten weeks later on May 18th I called to check on the progress of this application and was informed it had been received, but had yet not even been assigned to an Authorizing Officer. ¬†Finally on May 22nd, we were informed by email that the case had been assigned to an Authorizing Officer and that we were required to present ID at Wynnum Police Station to verify my son’s identification. ¬†This was duly completed the next working day. ¬†At this time I also completed an Eligibility to Join a Registered Pistol Club Form with QPS WLB, also for my son, so that he may start the process of joining the Belmont Pistol Club and participate in pistol competitions as well.
Two days ago, June 10, the Eligibility to Join a Registered Pistol Club Authority Letter arrived in the mail, after barely 7 days had passed, while yet we continue to wait on his Category A/B Firearms License.  The Pistol Club Authority is a NO FEE service and was processed in a matter of days while the Cat A/B licence is still no where to be seen.  This application has now taken in excess of 100 days to process, in spite of my having to pay $155.25 for it to be processed and issued.  This delay is completely unacceptable.  It is obvious that the administrative unit processing new firearms license applications is completely over run with an enormous backlog of work Рanecdotal evidence from my fellow shooters suggests that some license are taking up to NINE MONTHS to be processed Рwhile the less common applications, are being processed in very reasonable time frames.  Are there units of staff at QPS WLB sitting around doing nothing, waiting for special applications to arrive while their colleagues in new firearms license application units are run off their feet and swamped by months long backlogs?  If so, this is patently ridiculous.
I find it deplorable that QPS can charge a (not inconsiderable) fee for processing a license application and then not attend to these applications in a reasonable timeframe – as indeed, they are required to do so under the legislation. ¬†There is no way the Department of Transport would ever be allowed to operate like this – lodge a license application, pay your fee, then wait up to nine months to receive the document you paid for. ¬†Is it the Department’s preference that people go about their activities without the requisite licences? ¬†If there is to be a fee for service process, then clients should be able to expect a level of service that is commensurate with the fees being paid, and the timeframes outlined in the legislation governing the issuing of Firearms Licenses.
Unfortunately this is NOT a new problem, nor is it a new experience for the shooters of Queensland. ¬†I waited in excess of three months for my own Category A/B license in 2009, (excuses at that time claimed that a new computer system was holding up processing times), additionally I was forced to wait a further three months when applying for a Category H license in 2011 (excuses this time blamed inner city flooding for processing delays). ¬†Expectations of ANY new applications being attended to, and processed in a timely fashion are at an all time low within Queensland’s shooting community and sentiment towards QPS WLB is increasingly disgruntled and hostile.
The Queensland LNP Government came into power on a promise of cutting red tape for firearms owners and to date, we have seen nothing but waiting times and processing times continue to worsen. ¬†I respectfully request that my son’s application (details below) be looked into, reviewed and an explanation be provided as to what has caused these unwarranted delays. ¬†Additionally, myself and the responsible firearms owners of Queensland deserve to know what is being done to rectify this ridiculous situation, as it is obviously not a new problem. ¬†We have seen the LNP Government process legislative changes overnight on issues that are high on their political agenda – so telling us these things take time is just not good enough.
… ¬†absolutely no fucking regards, signed ME.
I have a feeling this will make absolutely no difference whatsoever.  But on the off chance I actually get the written response that I have requested, I will be sure to post it here.  Grrr.  Who needs this constant aggravation???
PS:  I always feel the need to distance my disgust for the administrative clusterfuck that is Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch from my respect and admiration for the QPS Officers who are on the ground putting themselves at risk to keep our communities safe.  Hate your bosses, love your work.
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