There are many options available to women who would like to become an SMC, these include:
- Becoming pregnant and carrying your own child through the use of donor gametes (like sperm, eggs and / or embryos)
- Foster care and Permanent Care
Depending upon which option you decide is right for you, there are several things to consider as you start trying to be an SMC.
Trying to Become Pregnant Through The Use of Donor Gametes
Most women who choose to become pregnant using donor gametes choose to use donor sperm. Depending upon your age, fertility or for medical reasons you may also choose to use an egg donor or embryo donation.
Single women in Australia can access fertility treatment and donor sperm routinely in all States through Assisted Reproduction Clinics (such as IVF clinics). First you need to chose clinic, and then get a referral from your GP to that clinic. If you choose to go through a clinic, some things to consider when choosing your clinic include:
- Do they have Donor sperm available? Donor sperm is in short supply and not all clinics have a selection readily available.
- What is the reputation of the clinic? What are their success rates?
- How does the clinic operate? Will you have regular access to your Fertility Specialist (doctor) or a dedicated contact at the clinic? What are the different protocols that they use?
- Do you wish to try IVF or IUI? IVF is In-Vitro Fertilisation where the eggs are removed surgically, fertilised in a lab and then placed back into the uterus. IUI is Intra-Uterine Insemination where donor sperm is inserted into the uterus at a time when ovulation is occurring. Whilst IVF always involves the use of medication and medical surgery (including an anesthetic), IUI can also be undertaken without any medication. Success rates for both methods differ depending upon a range of factors including your age.
Another option is to “Turkey Baste” where you try to conceive at home with donor sperm you have sourced yourself.
If you choose to use donor sperm, there are four options available to you in Australia:
- Known Donor – who agrees in advance to provide sperm for at-home insemination and knows the mother;
- Directed Donor – who agrees in advance to provide sperm for a clinic insemination and knows the mother;
- Co-parenting Donor – who agrees in advance to share in financial and logistical responsibilities of raising the child; and
- ID release/open-identity Donor – who donates in a sperm bank setting and agrees to be contacted after offspring reach a certain age (different Australian states have different contact ages, some states have no specific legislation and the clinics operate under Federal guidelines).
The option of using an Anonymous Donor (who donates in a sperm bank setting and does not agree to have any contact with offspring or recipient) is no longer available in Australia. Prior to the change in guidelines in 2004/2005 this was the only option available for many women.
There are many acronyms and jargon used in assisted reproduction, some of the terminology can be found here.
Foster Care, Permanent Care an Adoption
If you have chosen to do Foster Care (where you provide temporary care for a child in need), Permanent Care (where you are granted long-term care of a child) or Adoption (where a child is permanently placed in your care and legal rights of the birth parent are extinguished) you will need to go through the relevant authorities in your State to become eligible. The requirements differ between States, but usually involve the following steps:
- Making an application to become a carer. This can be quite a detailed application, including a full history of your life and your family, support networks, work and personal references.
- You may need to attend a formal training session with the relevant authority.
- A series of detailed interviews with a case worker.
- Once you are approved, you may then need to wait quite a while until you are placed with a suitable child.