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Thai surrogate solves WA couple s baby blues
Chatarina Brady and Kwanjai

For Wembley couple Chatarina and Andrew Brady, the barriers which confronted them in their quest to start a family at times seemed insurmountable.

A T-shaped uterus makes it difficult for Mrs Brady, 40, to carry a child and after a traumatic miscarriage and the risk of major complications if she fell pregnant again, the couple looked for other options.

They tried to adopt but after 18 months of seemingly endless meetings with social workers and counsellors - and reams of red tape - the couple gave up.

"We went through the gruelling approval process but decided not to go ahead with our application in the end because it seemed highly unlikely we would have a child placed with us for a very long time."

Two years of IVF treatments also failed.

Their last option within Australia was to find a local surrogate but Mrs Brady said it was impossible to find a woman who would carry their baby for free and only altruistic surrogacy is legal in WA.

Couples and potential surrogates are forbidden from advertising their intention to enter into a commercial arrangement.

"My husband and I both have sisters but they are all overseas so that avenue wasn't an option either," Mrs Brady said.

So they decided on an overseas surrogacy in Thailand, which will give them the gift of life they crave in little more time than for Mrs Brady to have a child herself.

After contacting a clinic in February, the couple expect their baby to be born in early March.

"At least the surrogacy process is quicker," Mrs Brady said. "We will have the baby from birth and in our case, it is genetically ours.

"We have been to hell and back to have a child so we wanted to let people know there is another avenue."

Mrs Brady said the fee to the clinic was about $30,000, excluding flights and accommodation. She was not sure how much their surrogate Kwanjai, from Bangkok, got because the clinic paid her.

But Mrs Brady said the agreement was in Thai and English and Kwanjai volunteered her womb because the money would help her support and spend more time with her young son.

A Surrogacy Australia survey found the number of babies born to Australian couples overseas using the 14 main clinics in India, Thailand and the US - the most popular for Australians - had almost trebled in three years from 97 in 2009 to 257 this year.

Wembley couple Chatarina and Andrew Brady are getting a Thai surrogate to have their baby to avoid red tape in Australia. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian.

In comparison, just seven surrogacy applications were received and approved in WA since it was legalised in March 2009 and about 14 applications are approved nationally each year.

Surrogacy Australia president Sam Everingham wants the law changed to make it legal for couples to advertise to pay a surrogate and for potential surrogates to advertise their willingness to carry a child for a fee.

"A lot of Australians are put off by the fact that they are not allowed to pay a surrogate more than their medical expenses," Mr Everingham said. "They feel like it's too much to ask."

People felt more assured the surrogate would remain committed to the process if they were paid, he said.

In the survey, the main reasons Australians gave for not considering surrogacy at home were the risk of the surrogate keeping the child and the inability to find a person willing to carry a child for altruistic reasons.

Because the process takes longer in Australia with mandatory legal and psychological counselling, the use of ethics committees and clinics insisting donor eggs or sperm be quarantined for three months to check for diseases, Mr Everingham said less regulated overseas arrangements became attractive.

He said it took one to 2½ years for couples to have a baby through an overseas surrogate compared with two to four years in Australia.

He disputed the trade exploited women in poor countries after fears were raised that husbands forced wives into surrogacy.

But he said money from surrogacy could free a Thai or Indian woman from the cycle of poverty.

Mrs Brady said they would be for ever grateful to Kwanjai and that her surrogacy was possible.