Welcome to Gay Dads Australia
Choosing to provide a home to one of the many children who need one
can be incredibly rewarding. But in NSW same-sex couples are not yet
treated on a par with heterosexual couples when it comes to
adoption. A combination of discriminatory laws and prejudicial
attitudes of certain adoption agencies makes it harder, but not
impossible, for same sex couples to adopt a child.
What is adoption?
Adoption is one of a range of options used to provide care for
children who can’t live with their birth families.
It is a legal process; it is long term and permanent. All legal
rights and responsibilities of parents are transferred from the
birth parents to the adoptive parents.
Adoption has a long history in our society and there are many
views, attitudes and opinions held about it.
The practice of adoption has changed much in recent years.
Adoption legislation and practice have evolved to better reflect our
present society and both are based on the knowledge gained from
those who have been touched by adoption.
Current practice recognises that although adoption ends a child’s
legal relationship with birth parents, the emotional and genetic
relationships remain. Adoption today embraces issues of identity,
openness and the value of a child’s cultural and racial heritage.
The NSW Department of Community Services (DOCS) provides adoption
placements, as do a small number of non-government agencies. DOCS is
a good first port of call for information (see its website).
Adoption involves a process of applying, being assessed and, if
found to be suitable, being placed on a waiting list until a matched
child becomes available. This process can take some time.
eligibility criteria for adoptive parents include: psychological,
emotional and financial stability, a clear criminal record and good
reputation, Australian citizenship, and a willingness to assist the
child to have contact with the birth family in the future. If you
are in a relationship it must be at least three years in length. If
there are any other children being cared for in your family they
should usually be two or more years older than the child to be
adopted. You or your partner cannot be pregnant or in a fertility
Although Western Australia and the ACT now permit
same-sex de facto couples to apply to adopt a child, NSW does not
(the DOCS website misleadingly says “de facto couples” are eligible
without specifying that it means only heterosexual couples).
Lesbians and gay men cannot apply as couples in NSW, but are still
able to apply as “individual” applicants. This means that both
partners are still assessed for suitability but only one partner
will be the legal parent if a child is placed with you. Since 2000
there is no formal preference for couples over individual applicants
in NSW law (again the DOCS website is wrong on this), but
relinquishing parent preferences and overseas law may still mean a
lower priority in the waiting list.
For more info from Dept of
the government department responsible for the provision of
adoption services in NSW. They work with birth parents who are
considering adoption for their child and families who wish to
The department is responsible for locating the most
suitable families for adopted children to ensure the best
interests of the child both in childhood and later life.
For more info click below
Other Local Adoption Agencies:
There are a number of accredited
adoption agencies who also provide adoption services in NSW.
You may express interest with a number of agencies or programs,
but you can only have an application with one program at one time.
Adopting from Overseas: Intercountry
Intercountry adoptions are now far more
common than domestic adoptions in Australia, making up around
three-quarters of adoptions in recent years. Such adoptions
must satisfy the requirements of the Hague Adoption
Convention, which requires eligibility for adoptive parents to
be agreed upon by both the child’s country of origin and the
country in which they are adopted. At the moment none of the
current “sending” countries allow same-sex couples to adopt
(although note that when South Africa begins intercountry
adoptions, as it is expected to do in the near future, it does
recognise same-sex couples as eligible to adopt).
sending countries such as China, Taiwan, the Philippines and
Hong Kong allow an individual applicant to adopt. (Ethiopia
will only accept female individual applicants.) The DOCS
website notes that the current waiting time for a couple
accepted to adopt a child from China is seven and a half
months, but for individual applicants it is three years. Just
because Angelina Jolie can jet in and out in a week doesn’t
mean that anyone else can. The process of assessment is
complex, and adoptions must be undertaken in Australia and
approved by DOCS for the child to be permitted to enter
The current cost from DOCS is $10,700 for
assessment and placement of a child for intercountry adoption.
Other expenses such as legal advice, visas and so on mean that
the total cost can be much higher.
In 2004 the Howard
government tried to ban any state agency from providing
intercountry adoption to a same-sex couple. This was part of
the first bill to ban same-sex marriage. The adoption ban was
dropped from the law after opposition parties said they would
block it in the Senate. However, it is entirely possible that
it will be reintroduced now that the government controls the
Senate, and some backbenchers have already called for this to
happen. If passed it would mean that lesbians and gay men in
Australia could not adopt a child from overseas even as
DoCS is currently the only agency in
NSW which can arrange intercountry adoption.
Who can adopt from overseas?
DoCS considers many factors when selecting parents for overseas
children, including their parenting abilities, character and family
For more info click below
Information for this page has been sourced from an Article titled
“Can I Adopt Or Foster A Child? by Jenni Millbank featured in the
Sydney Star Observer Issue 793 - Published 1/12/2005
We will hopefully be able to provide this information soon.
As interest in Gay Dads NSW grows we are finding that there
are an increasing number of co-parenting arrangements. It is
important to consider at an early stage just what type of
involvement you want to have with the children you father.
There are those whose interest extends no further than being
a known sperm donor, with no responsibilities to the child
thereafter. Some guys are happy to assume limited
responsibilities once the child is born, taking on a role
similar to that of an uncle. For others the choice may be to
share all responsibility equally with the mums, in terms of
caring for the child at home, financial responsibilities,
making choices for the child’s future and upbringing,
assuming legal rights of a primary caregiver etc. There are
endless variations in between and it is important that when
entering into any such arrangement you do so with ‘co-mums’
who share your outlook and ambitions in terms of how
responsibility for the child/ children will be managed.
Finding a co-parent?
It is a fairly common scenario for a gay man/couple to be
approached by a friend, maybe a lesbian (single or couple),
to act as a known donor, with or without an active parental
role once the child is born. Other men have been introduced
to their co-mums by a mutual friend.
However, for some guys this scenario does not present itself
and the desire to co-parent encourages them towards a more
pro-active means of finding suitable co-mum(s).
Some online community noticeboards, such as the Pink Board,
have a classified section where you will often find women
advertising for known donors. There is likewise the option
for gay men to put their own adverts in lesbian magazines,
such as LOTL, inviting contact from interested women.
A more recent option is the yahoo online group where men gay
men and lesbians wanting to parent children can make
contact. The web group offers the facility for individuals
to post personal detail in the hope of finding other suited
couples and thereafter exploring the potential for entering
into a co-parenting arrangement.
When considering a co-parenting arrangement, be it with
friends or new acquaintances, it is a good idea to talk
openly about your hopes and aspirations and also your own
lifestyle and family background/history (including medical
history). Potentially this will impact on your
child/children and it is important to establish
compatibility at an early stage.
The options detailed here range from co-parenting
arrangements arising out of friendships to those which
originate between couples unknown but connected by a shared
ambition to become parents. There are different
considerations to be borne in mind depending upon whether
the co-parents are long-term friends or new acquaintances
and again it is best to give thought to potential
difficulties that might arise from your relationship with
the co-parents, at an early stage.
Co-parents coming to an agreement
Again, opinion differs as to how formalised co-parenting
arrangements should be. In some instances everything is
agreed verbally with nothing committed to a written
agreement; clearly this relies on a great deal of trust
between all parties to ensure success. To the other extreme
the arrangement can be tightly bound into a written
agreement, thereby formalising as many aspects of the
co-parenting arrangement as can be foreseen. In this way all
parties to the arrangement are clear as to their
responsibilities, rights and obligations. And of course
between these two extremes there is much scope for whatever
is best suited to your particular situation. Clearly the
best option is whatever is best suited to the needs of all
involved, so that everyone is comfortable in the
The process of writing a written agreement in itself can be
a useful one as a means of assisting all parents to think
about and articulate their needs and/or expectations of the
arrangement. This can also help prevent disputes arising in
the future. Written agreements relating to co-parenting
situations are not legally enforceable in Australia.
However, the existence of a written agreement, to which all
parties had consented, is useful as evidence of each
person’s intentions and would be regarded as much in an
Australian court of law.
Be aware that expectations and circumstances may change so
try to allow for scope within your agreement to cater for
Each individual/couple will have his/her own matters for
consideration but these are just a few common issues for
How will the child refer to each of
the parents? (Mum? Dad? Use of Christian name?). This is
of particular consideration in situations where there are
two couples to an arrangement and therefore include a
non-birth mother and co-father. “Mum” and “Dad” are often
obvious choices in relation to the biological parents but
it is important to ensure that the non-biological mum and
dad are not left to feel like bystanders to the whole
Who will be present at the birth?
(Bear in mind that this is ultimately a choice for the
biological mother although there is no harm in discussing
Who is responsible for taking key
decisions in the child’s up-bringing. Such decisions range
from the child’s name to their education (formal and
informal), religious instruction, etc.
How is financial responsibility for
the upbringing of the child to be managed?
How much contact will each parent
have with the child? Starting when and how often?
Will the child have a relationship
with members of his/her extended families? In return, how
will your own families react to your new family unit?
What happens if one parent decides to
move interstate / overseas? Do you have a duty to consult
each other in advance about such decisions?
In the event of serious illness /
injury / death of one of the primary caregivers what
arrangements would you want in place for the care of the
child? This is particularly relevant in arrangements where
you have not assumed equal responsibility for the raising
of the child. Suddenly you may find that more is expected
of you; how will you react? In the event that you are
prepared to assume greater responsibility in raising the
child are their legal obstacles that you will need to
If disagreements between the
co-parents arise how would you propose to deal with them?
How would you deal with a situation
in which your child, in adolescence, wishes to change the
arrangements you have made?
Of course this is not an exhaustive list and no one list
fits all. Likewise it is impossible to envisage every
eventuality that is going to arise; we are human, not
robots. The important thing is to give your particular
situation careful and considered thought. Ultimately the
success or failure of the co-parenting arrangement will
impact upon the child and their interests are paramount.
Read through Talking Turkey 2nd Edition on the Inner City
Legal Centre website for suggested forms of agreements. It
is a very useful information tool for those considering
Getting started with making babies
Once you reach the stage of ‘making baby’ there are (again)
a number of options; you can provide sperm using the
services of a fertility clinic or in the privacy of your own
home where the birth mother can self-inseminate. There is no
right way / wrong way; again it is down to personal
circumstances and preference. Some consider a clinical
environment to be safer and healthier whilst others consider
the intimacy of their own home to be more appropriate to the
If using a clinic the sperm will need to be deposited,
tested and quarantined for six months and then retested and
it is important to factor this time into your planning.
Paperwork will be required; it is important to request a
copy of all forms and read them before signing.
When choosing home insemination it is advisable that general
and sexual health testing is undertaken beforehand and the
test results exchanged amongst the co-parents. Home
insemination is not something that can be carried out on the
spur of the moment and it is important to plan well ahead
and ensure that timing is convenient for all parties
involved. To optimise chances of successful insemination
there are certain steps that can be taken by the sperm donor
in the days preceding (abstinence from sex, drugs and
alcohol). It is advisable to read up on specific advice to
ensure that sperm is fresh, healthy and handled/exchanged
Many gay men considering fatherhood have commented on the
benefits of attending group dinners, info nights and asking
questions online. If you would like to join either of the
online discussion groups, you can access those via the
If you have any further enquiries or have additional
information which you think could be added then please feel
free to communicate your thoughts to …..
Foster care is provided to children and
young people who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to
live with their own families.
Adoption difficulties may make long-term
foster care placement, particularly of older children, a
more realistic alternative than adoption for many lesbians
and gay men wishing to parent.
There is a much greater need for foster carers than for
adoptive parents in Australia. DOCS states that carers “can
be an individual, couple or family, any age or gender and
can be living in a range of different situations”. The need
for carers to take older children and sibling groups is
particularly acute. DOCS states that it also particularly
needs foster parents who are Aboriginal and from various
cultural backgrounds, as it tries to match children with
carers who are culturally appropriate.
In addition to DOCS, several non-government agencies provide
foster care placements. Be warned that virtually all of the
non-government providers are religious. Some, such as
Barnardos, have a history of treating same-sex couples
equally and with respect. Others, such as Wesley Mission,
have been openly hostile to lesbians and gay men.
Many agencies specialise in different kinds of placements,
for instance in children aged 2-12, or adolescents, or
children with disabilities. DOCS has a list of providers on
their website with links you can access to find out some
more information about them.
The stated aim of foster care is to return children
eventually to their families of origin. One of the required
qualities in a foster carer is “the ability to say goodbye
when the time comes for families to be reunited”.
Nonetheless there are many long-term foster care placements.
Sometimes children are eventually adopted by the foster
To become a foster parent, you must go through an assessment
and then, if found to be eligible, a training process.
Different agencies list various eligibility criteria such
as: a clear criminal record, previous experience in child
rearing, a stable and secure environment, stable
relationship status, and the ability to provide the child
their own room. If a child is placed, foster parents are
provided with on-going training and support as well as
Foster Care Agencies
DOCS Foster Info link
If you're interested in
becoming a foster carer, call
your local DoCS office.
Other foster care
Information for this page has been sourced from an Article
I Adopt Or Foster A Child? by Jenni Millbank featured in
the Sydney Star Observer
Issue 793 -
Previous or Current
Gay men who are fathers and are currently in or were
previously in a heterosexual relationship have a great
opportunity to share their experiences with others going
through or that have gone through similar circumstances.
Gay Dads NSW gives fathers the opportunity to meet,
socialise and offer and receive support from others with
children who are, or have been previously involved in a
heterosexual relationship. Giving them the opportunity to
offer advice and discuss issues.
The group also offer the children of gay men the opportunity
to meet, play and build friendships and peer support with
other children in similar family environments. Events such
as, group picnics, monthly playgroup for pre-schoolers and
GDAY monthly outings for school age kids are available for
kids of gay dads.
Although our group has a focus on issues of fatherhood and
social activities for the fathers as well as the children
there is another community group in NSW that supports men
who identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual and who
are, or have been previously involved in a heterosexual
relationship, irrespective of whether have children or not.
That group is GAMMA.
The Gay and Married Men's Association NSW is a group of
offers support and advice to married and bisexual men in New
South Wales. The group has been running in its present
format for 5 years, having been established some 18 years
ago. During this period, many thousands of men have
benefited from their introduction to GAMMA.
The group recently established a social group (GAMMA
CONNECT) to provide for those members who, having worked
through their personal issues, seek to stay in regular
contact with other like minded members of the group and
provides the further opportunity to introduce those involved
to the wider Gay & Lesbian community. This group meets
monthly for social events, including safe sex education
forums and other activities.
GAMMA NSW Inc. is funded by the NSW government (South East
Area Health Service) as part of their Aids prevention and
safe sex awareness programs.
For more information about the group click on the following
Gay dads who want sole parenting
rights, rather than a co-parenting agreement with the birth
mother, are increasingly turning to surrogacy, a process
whereby a woman agrees to carry the child usually using a
Currently surrogacy is illegal in
Australia. For more information NSW laws pertaining to this
issue read the article linked below:
This is why many gay men are pursuing
legal surrogacy in the USA and Canada.
It is of course also possible to find a surrogate in
Australia but it is viewed as problematic in terms of the
laws in Australia.
There are two types of surrogacy -
traditional and gestational.
With traditional, the surrogate donates
her eggs and is the birth mother, while with gestational an
egg donor is chosen by the intending parent(s) and the eggs
are implanted in the birth mother. The intended parent (the
father or father’s) sperm is used (fresh or frozen).
Think of it in the same way as mothers
seeking a "donor", but in reverse. The child is also 100%
legally the father(s), and in the US the court papers and
the birth certificate typically reflect this. There may or
may not be onward going contact between the surrogate and
the child. This is open to negotiation between the parties.
If the father’s fresh sperm is used multiple trips to the US
or Canada may be necessary. If the father’s frozen sperm is
used the number of trips is minimised. The sperm is stored
in a sperm bank in the US or Canada, and is accessed for
inseminations when needed by the fertility clinic or medical
The surrogacy agencies are involved in
the screening processes of both potential fathers and
surrogates, the potential matching between the parties, the
legal aspects and the co-ordination of it all. It is
something that an individual could also undertake themselves
without using a surrogacy agency (though it would be time
intensive and difficult from a distance).
Typically a registration fee is payable
to the surrogacy agency at the start of the process, and a
trust account is established, out of which the agency pays
onward going expenses. Contracts are signed between the
various parties, and in the US in particular legal
representation is necessary. A large part of the fees
payable in the US goes to cover the mandatory health
insurance for the surrogate. In Canada the public health
system covers these expenses.
The Los Angeles based surrogacy agency
Growing Generations is probably the largest of the US West
Coast agencies focusing exclusively on the gay market. Their
website is very informative. The Canadian agencies are
typically in Ontario. Not all of the North American agencies
will deal with gay men, but some specialise in this market.
Below is a list of surrogacy and egg donors agencies with
t is worth checking the reputation of
different agencies through requesting testimonials and
seeking referrals. Surrogacy is an expensive option, and the
agency plays a central role in the process. As the client
you need to reassure yourself that they are 100%
trustworthy, have an established reputation, a client
service ethic, and that you could work with them over an
extended period of time.
Like the traditional way of getting
pregnant, traditional and gestational surrogacy do not
always work on the first try, or indeed on subsequent tries.
For every story of a gay father or fathers becoming parents
on the first try there are similar stories where there are
multiple attempts. While surrogacy is more “planned” and
uses more “science” than traditional pregnancy, it is still
an imprecise art.
Note that with gestational surrogacy
the chances of multiple births is greater than the chances
of multiple births with traditional surrogacy and the
traditional way of getting pregnant. There are plenty of
stories of gay men using gestational surrogacy who end up
the father or fathers of twins or triples!
Information on returning to Australia
with your child born through surrogacy is available. It
includes a checklist of pointers that need to be done prior
to bringing a child back to Australia (birth certificates,
passports, visas, social security cards, permission to
travel). Information is also available on how to apply for
Australian citizenship and a passport for your child once
back in Australia.
Surrogacy is a very large industry in
the United States. Here are some tips and questions to help
screen the agencies:
Compare their prices with the prices
of agencies like
www.growinggenerations.com (among others).
Ask how long they have been
Ask how many births that they have
Ask for current/previous client
references (say 3-4 so you get a range of perspectives).
Interview the principals of the
agency in person or by videoconference. This would assist
your 'feel' for the agency.
Growing Generations (specializes in
helping gay families. Also offers egg donation services)
5757 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 601
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Agency For Surrogacy Solutions, Inc.
Attn: Kathryn Manos, M.A.
Phone 1: 818-766-8086
Phone 2: 800-799-8773 (outside So. California)
Canadian Surrogacy Options
218 Silvercreek Pkwy. N.
Guelph, ON N1H8E8 CANADA
Attn: Joanne Wright
Phone 1: (519) 767-1171
Phone 2: (519) 829-9698 (Cell)
Fax: (519) 767-2392
Center for Surrogate Parenting (also
offers egg donation services)
15821 Ventura Blvd., Suite 675
Encino, CA 91436
Phone: 818 788-8288
Fax: 818 981-8287
Cori's Egg Donor & Surrogate Services
(also offers egg donation services)
2112 Glencoe Drive
Lemon Grove, CA 91945
Phone: (619) 463-9110
Fax: (619) 463-3122
Ova the Rainbow (also offers egg
P.O. Box 187
Stevinson, CA 95374
Attn: Kendis Argo
Surrogate Mothers Online, LLC - Virtual
Meeting Ground for the Surrogacy Community
Website providing information and support to individuals who
are interested in pursuing a surrogacy or egg/sperm donor
(also offers surrogacy)
415 N. Camden Dr., Suite 108
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Attn: Rosa Balcazar
Egg Options (also offers surrogacy)
1332 Parkview Avenue, Suite 104
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Phone: (310) 546-6786
Fax: (310) 802-8147
Donor & Surrogate Services (also offers surrogacy)
2112 Glencoe Drive
Lemon Grove, CA 91945
Phone: (619) 463-9110
Fax: (619) 463-3122
Donation, Inc. (affiliated with Center for Surrogate
Parenting for surrogacy)
15821 Ventura Blvd. Suite 675
Encino, CA 91436
Futures International LLC. (affiliated with Growing
Generations for surrogacy)
5757 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 601
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone 1: (866) 952-FUTURES(3888)
Phone 2: (323) 965-9200
Fax: (323) 965-9250
Rainbow(also offers surrogacy)
P.O. Box 187
Stevinson, CA 95374
Attn: Kendis Argo
San Diego, CA
Phone 1: 800-264-8828
Phone 2: 619-464-1424