Too often, intended parents venture into surrogacy as a route to parenthood with little idea of what it will involve in practice. The Australian altruistic system is great in the way it mandates thorough up-front counselling and legal advice, but what happens after that is up to the parties involved. Dad through surrogacy Adam Zuchetti will share his tips and recommendations at our June conference. Below is a behind-the-scenes look at just a few aspects of his and husband Angus’ journey.
Adam Zuchetti and his husband Angus have been together 19 years. A decade ago, they started to seriously look into how they could start a family. Living in the UK at the time, they initially explored adoption until they realised that having a strong support network for an adopted child was going to be vital. All their supports were back here in Australia, so they made the move back.
Once they returned to Australia, they soon found that adoption was far less accessible than in the UK. So the pair began researching and joined surrogacy forums to learn what others had done. Initially they explored overseas surrogacy, but decided to pursue surrogacy within Australia – in large part so they could be actively involved in the entire pregnancy experience. It was from these forums that a potential surrogate, Kate, reached out to them.
She offered earlier than we were expecting” Adam admits. They did not even have embryos created. Several women had offered to donate eggs, including Adam’s own sister Corrinne. Ultimately this would be the ideal solution, ensuring that both Angus and Adam shared a genetic link with any children they may have.
The opportunity to take part in Channel Nine’s Big Miracles series was presented early in the piece. Everyone agreed. To them, showcasing domestic surrogacy and egg donation in a positive light was important. Yet there were many aspects to their journey that viewers did not see. Like whether Kate’s husband and children were on board, for instance. “We wanted to know that we were all united in this journey” Adam recalls, leading to detailed discussions well before progressing to counselling.
During the obligatory counselling sessions, “some of the questions were very ‘left-of-field’” Adam smiles. “Then there was a 500 item questionnaire including some random items”. Nonetheless, they all recognised the process was designed to help, requiring all parties to look at the upcoming journey from numerous angles, making them consider each other’s perspectives as well as their own. The mandatory legal counselling was also somewhat nerve-wracking, particularly when they were reminded that legally, Kate and her husband would be the parents at birth. But it also reinforced there was a structured pathway to them becoming the legal parents.
Being around to support Kate and her family during the pregnancy was vital. Living only a few suburbs away, Adam and Angus made it clear they were always available.
Kate suffered severe morning sickness, so the boys gave her care packages including electrolytes and simple foods. At week seven of the pregnancy, she contracted Covid. Severely dehydrated, Kate was hospitalised. She started spotting. A miscarriage became an all too real prospect. Thankfully the situation normalised. Then, during Kate’s second trimester, she developed a complication – painful varicose veins. It meant she was unable to stand for long periods. The problem was, Kate owned and ran a local burger shop. Adam did not hesitate to take time off his own job to come in and help out, flipping burgers, taking orders and cleaning.
“There are things you don’t consider at the outset, that you’ll step up to do” Adam admits. “But equally, Kate and her family have gone above and beyond to support us throughout the pregnancy and as new parents. It really was a team effort. For us, surrogacy has created a life-long friendship and an incredible village in which to raise our daughter.”
Adam will be talking on the domestic parent panel ( one of 13 such panels) at Growing Families Annual conference in Melbourne on 17-18 June 2023. Full details here