In the lead-up to the Growing Families New Zealand Seminar in Auckland, Sam Everingham profiles one rainbow family.
When my husband and I were going through the surrogacy process over ten years ago, nearly everyone ventured offshore to locate a donor and surrogate. These days a lot more are working with a local donor and sometimes even a local surrogate.
Nowadays there is a lot more support available for those considering egg donation or surrogacy. While Covid-related restrictions have slowed processes, a surprising number have found ways to move ahead. For many it has meant shipping sperm rather than travelling themselves. While the processes and paperwork involved require patience, when it comes to building family, determination is one quality you must have.
Social worker Chris Hunter was 21 when he met his future husband Marc, a furniture maker in Christchurch, four years his senior. After a few years together, both were keen to build a family. Yet their salaries and savings meant options like the USA were out of their reach.
Eventually Chris found an online NZ surrogacy forum – a place where local surrogates and intended parents could talk and get to know each other. It was here that, after six months, they met Laura, an experienced surrogate pregnant in Taupo on her third surrogacy journey – and that was after carrying two children of her own.
Laura is a traditional surrogate – she was happy to donate not only her womb but her eggs. Some fertile surrogates prefer this approach as less medically invasive, and it certainly saves on IVF expenses.
Chris and Marc were a little worried there might be a greater risk of their surrogate bonding if she used her own eggs, but given Laura had no problems relinquishing earlier surrogate babies, their fears were largely allayed.
The couple flew Laura to Christchurch and undertook home insemination. The process worked first time and their son Lucas was born in 2017. Nearly three years later Laura was prepared to help them again and while this time around was a little more difficult, a daughter Lillian was born in 2020. Their children are biologically half-siblings – one was conceived with Chris’ sperm and other with Marc’s – to their fathers, they are whole siblings in a perfect family.
Chris and other gay dads who created families with the help of donors and surrogates will share their experiences in Auckland on 21 August. This community event is essential for those considering building family. Attendees come to get to know parents, surrogates, donors as well as specialist lawyers, IVF physicians, surrogacy specialists and a host of other experts in this complex field.
Growing Families is an information and referral hub for those wanting to build a family with the help of donor IVF and/or surrogacy.