Daddy Squared Around The World: Australia
Daddy Squared: The Gay Dads Podcast looks at gay rights and fatherhood options in Australia. We talked with Equality Australia founder and gay dad Tom Snow to get a taste of what it’s like being a gay dad in Australia, and researched options for gay men who want to become dads.
Gay dad Tom Snow was a key person in Australia’s Marriage Equality campaign. Though the Australian campaign was fueled by the success in Ireland and in the United States, in the interview on our podcast Tom explained the key difference between Australia and those countries.
“In Ireland the biggest message around marriage equality was about equality,” Snow explained. “In the U.S. there were a few things that were use but freedom was a big one, equality and rights were also big in the states. But when we message-tested those in Australia, the biggest thing that Australians get is fairness. And what we realized is that people just saw it as not fair that same sex couples were not able to get married. They could see the unfairness of it, and they were like ‘that’s not decent’ that there’s a group of people that are not treated the same.”
Winning marriage was important for the country, however, Snow told Daddy Squared it wasn’t quite important for parenting, as gay men could have kids, even before marriage, in a few different ways. “Surrogacy, adoption and co-parenting are probably the big three,” he says, “historically many gay men and lesbian women did it through co-parenting. The good news in Australia is that adoption is reasonably equal in the law, in that case it’s reasonably equal for gays and lesbians. We do have some issues that some of the adoption agencies that are religious-based, discriminate against our community and continue to do so.”
“Surrogacy is harder for gay men in Australia, there might be a family friend or a family member who might carry a baby for a gay male couple. That’s difficult [to find a surrogate] so many gay men do go overseas.”
A dad of a twin 10-year-olds and a 6-year-old through surrogacy, Snow shared his own story of parenthood. “Never is everything under control,” he laughs, “but it’s the most fun experience, every day is just a riot of fun. I say this to everyone looking at being a parent, it’s a lot harder than I ever expected it to be, but it’s also a lot better than I ever expected it to be. It is a complete change in your life.”
Adoption for Gay Dads in Australia
Currently in Australia, laws around adoption and fostering by LGBT people differ by state/territory. The first step for prospective parents is to research which type of adoption or permanent care is possible in your state or territory.
There are three types of adoption in Australia: domestic adoption (local and from out of home care), inter-country adoption, or permanent care and foster care. Helpful information about adoption in general and by-state in Australia can be found on adoptchange.org.au
It’s important to state that religious-based foster care agencies may appeal to legal provisions allowing them to refuse to assess LGBT applicants.
Full information sheet on adoption and foster care in Australia by Australian Psychology Society (APS) can be found here.
Surrogacy for Gay Dads in Australia
Surrogacy in Australia is based on state-by-state laws. Western Australia, for example, only allows single women and heterosexual couples to engage in surrogacy.
There are different rules, and generally the laws are you can have altruistic surrogacy so you can pay for costs but you can’t pay for someone to undertake surrogacy for you.
A typical surrogacy journey within Australia costs around $70,000 AUD. Most of these costs are the costs of IVF. Cost of surrogacy in the U.S. can reach up to $200,000 AUD. More info about surrogacy for gay men in Australia can be found here
Co-Parenting for Gay Men in Australia
Currently, co-parenting is still largest avenue for gay men to become parents (surrogacy is catching up fast though). Historically, co-parenting cases ended up in court in Australia due to scam or other problematic issues that stem from not really knowing the person you get into co-parenting with. It is highly recommended to look for co-parent through friends, word of mouth, rather than on internet searches.
In general, law in all states say that all sperm donors must be known and so dads can decide the level of involvement they would like to have in their kids’ lives and state it in their co-parenting agreement.
Rodney Chiang-Cruise, one of the Admins in Gay Dads Australia Facebook group recommends the co-parenting agreement to become a living document. “Revisit the contract a year later and see what has worked and what didn’t really work,” he advises. “Also, make sure to spend the first years build the family structure. Focus in the first two years on building the relationship with your co-parents rather than dividing the time of the baby. Spend time with your co-parent daily. Remember, it’s not about ownership of the child – it’s about building and raising a family.”
A dad on Gay Dads Australia group, who co-parent a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old with lesbian moms advises to draw everything up legally, even if it feels a bit awkward at the beginning, and really discuss not only what each parents role will be in the child’s life but what that roll actually means and involves for each person. “In our case, we learned that my partner and I had a very different idea of an ‘active father’ role involves compared to the mums ideas of that role,” he says. “Things got a bit difficult navigating those differences for a few years but we are all now in a really amazing place with two awesome kids.”
Men Having Babies
In several countries that are not allow surrogacy to the same extent as in the United States, there is a feeling that for the sake of the surrogate surrogacy should be uncompensated, as well as that the surrogate should have more rights to protect them, including, supposedly, the right to keep the child of the intended parents. The assumption is that the surrogate will appreciate that she will get to decide the fate of the baby she’s carrying. The reality is that surrogates do not ask for this supposed right. More about surrogate’s stigma and stereotypes
Men Having Babies ethical framework for ethical surrogacy for intended parents
Also, check out MHB’s video archive on ethical surrogacy and legal clarity
Our Guest: Tom Snow
Tom Snow is Chair of Equality Australia, and was a Co-Chair and Founder of the Equality Campaign, which led the successful Yes vote in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey and saw in the successful legislative change for marriage equality.
Tom is an accidental activist. When his family stood in front of a rainbow coloured Canberra Airport in August 2015, he was thrust into being one of the leaders of the marriage equality campaign.
Through his business career, Tom has played a range of directorship roles, including being a director at Perth Airport, Canberra Airport, the Port of Adelaide, Bankstown Airport, Peninsula Link, Etihad Stadium and the Australian Science Festival. He was also Chair of the Canberra Convention Bureau. He is a Rhodes Scholar, and is a proud father of three kids.
Gay Dads in Australia: Related Articles and News
- Recognising Children of Same-Sex Couples (by Owen Hodge Lawyers, 2020)
- From foster to ‘forever’ parents: One gay couple’s path to adoption (SBS News, 2018)
- Shattering the Co-Parenting Dream (Star Observer, 2015)
- A Supreme Court Case Poses a Threat to L.G.B.T.Q. Foster Kids (The New York Time, June 5, 2021)
- Me, My Therapist and Kylie Minogue (Yan’s op-ed in HuffPost)
- Tom’s choice for Australian gay icons: Ian Thorpe and Magda Szubanski