Surrogacy: The basics explained

Surrogacy Australia defines surrogacy as ‘an arrangement for a woman to become pregnant and give birth to a child for another couple or single person, with the intention of giving that child to the couple/person once they are born’.

Australians turn to surrogacy for various reasons, including:

  • Some may be single or partnered gay men.
  • Some may be heterosexual women who are unable to carry a pregnancy safely.
  • Adoption is becoming more and more restrictive, and less available as an option to have a family.


There are complex legal and medical steps involved in the process, plus strict regulations and eligibility requirements that must be met. So, if you’re considering surrogacy, it’s important to seek professional advice and build supportive networks. In this article, we break down the basics, including the types of surrogacy, where to find the woman who acts as the surrogate, some of the practicalities and costs, and where to seek more advice and support.

What are the types of surrogacy?

There are 2 different types:

Gestational surrogacy

This type of surrogacy is when the surrogate has a fertilised embryo transferred into her. A gestational surrogate has no genetic contribution to the child they are carrying. The fertilised embryo she carries is the product of in vitro fertlisation (IVF) using the sperm and the egg from the intended parents. Single people and gay men can also use donated eggs or sperm.

This is the most common type of surrogacy arrangement in Australia.

Traditional surrogacy

Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate mother provides her own egg, and is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the intended father.

This type of surrogacy is not usually offered in Australian clinics due to the legal requirements. However, some surrogate mothers inseminate themselves at home, or go through an overseas clinic.

How to find a surrogate

The surrogate mother can be someone you know or don’t know. These women usually have a strong desire to help others experience parenthood or to grow their families. They may have finished having children of their own, or plan to continue growing their family later on.

While it is illegal to advertise for a surrogate in Australia, you may know someone in your social network or you could connect with someone through Surrogacy Australia.

How to become a surrogate

Offering to carry a baby for someone else is a very generous act, one that should be carefully considered and researched. If you have a family yourself, you will need to involve them in the decision making process.

To be eligible, you’ll probably need to be a mother between 25-40 years of age. It’s important that you know your rights, including how you manage the pregnancy, and that the intended parents understand and agree with those rights.

What are the costs associated with surrogacy? 

Altruistic (non-commercial) surrogacy

This is the arrangement in which the birth mother does not receive any financial payment or reward. However, reasonable reimbursement of medical expenses for the surrogate mother is allowed in some states. Altruistic surrogacy is legal in Australia.

Commercial surrogacy

This involves the birth mother receiving financial payment or reward, as well as reimbursement for medical expenses. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia. Intended parents who have difficulty in finding a surrogate mother often enter into commercial agreements overseas.


What are some of the practicalities concerning surrogacy?

  • Surrogate mothers and intended parents must make a formal surrogacy agreement.
  • Legal processes must be completed, and each state and territory has different laws regulating surrogacy. Some states don’t allow certain people to make surrogacy agreements.
  • A court order is required to transfer parentage over to the commissioning parents.
  • Strict regulations and eligibility requirements must be met before entering into an agreement.
  • Counselling is a requirement of surrogacy arrangements.
  • The majority of surrogacy agreements end without issues, with everyone involved in the journey feeling satisfied and fulfilled.


Where to find more information and support


Surrogacy Australia

IVF Australia

Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand




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