As commercial surrogacy is not legal in Australia, many couples find themselves travelling overseas in order to have the child that they have been wanting. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind if you are looking to go through surrogacy. 

Pre-advice

It is a good idea before you commence your surrogacy process to get advice from your state's adoption authority and an independent lawyer. The surrogacy agency may also have in-house legal advice. The area of surrogacy and assisted reproduction is relatively new and the guidelines and laws in each jurisdiction are still changing as lawmakers get a better handle on the social and ethical issues surrounding the process. 

Adoption

After the baby is born, regardless of the genetic contributors to the baby, the birth mother will then offer the baby to the parents for adoption. This should ideally be performed as soon as possible after birth in order for any paperwork to have time to be registered by the relevant offices in the country. The adoption process varies from country to country. The surrogacy clinics will often have in-house lawyers that can help to process the adoption as quickly as possible. Adopted children of Australian citizens are automatically eligible for Australian citizenship.

Passport

Even newborns require a passport in order to travel. The child can be given a passport in their home country and travel home on this passport, and the parents can then apply in country for an Adoption 802 visa. The exact option that works best depends on the time frame that you have to get the paperwork processed as well as your legal advice. 

Finalisation of paperwork

Once you get home it's important to finalise any paperwork, including where necessary, getting a second parent added to the paperwork. As surrogacy is a popular option with LGBTI couples, but not all areas support surrogacy and adoption by LGBTI couples, in some cases, one parent may end up doing the initial adoption overseas with the second parent being added in Australia. Russian surrogacy and adoption is one example of this conundrum, as it doesn't allow surrogacy and adoption by gay couples.

Finalising this paperwork allows both parents to make decisions for the child including medical decisions. As this is a new and complex area of family law, it is important to have an experienced family lawyer to help guide you through the process and ensure that your family has all of the appropriate legal protections. 

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