Couple wanting to father Maori children 'inundated' with offers of help
A fertility expert says almost all surrogacy arrangements in New Zealand go off without a hitch – welcome news for a married same-sex couple seeking to father two Maori children.
More than 40 women have contacted Australian-based couple, Nelson and Baden Marino-Hall, after they placed an advertisement asking for a Maori woman to become their egg donor.
While Nelson is Australian, Baden is of Maori descent and grew up in Otaki on the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington. The pair wanted to honour that lineage by having children with the same biological Maori mother.
Since their story was published, the Marino-Halls have been inundated with prospective donors and surrogates, while others offered advice and support.
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While the bulk of offers have come from New Zealand-based women, several Maori women from Brisbane, Perth and Cairns have also expressed interest in donating, acting as a surrogate or both.
"We've had more than 40 Maori women reach out to us, it's gobsmacking," Nelson Marino-Hall said from Toowoomba, Queensland.
"There was lots of happy, happy tears last night, going through all the emails, the messages ... it's been an amazing, amazing 24 hours.
"We want to respond to every single woman who reached out to us out of respect - they deserve it ... we want to consider every single option as well, what is the easiest and best thing for those involved," Nelson said.
Once individual emails were sent out, the couple will seek advice on which Maori woman or women would be involved in starting their family.
"That's the next step is to go down the legality point of view and also [talking to] fertility experts," said Baden, who said the most important factor was that the woman or women involved had the "right intention".
"There's all these sort of little hurdles that we need to consider, but we're both excited about it and hoping for the best and hopefully we'll have a great news story in the future."
Fertility Associates founder Richard Fisher said that, provided all parties are well-counselled, surrogacy and egg donation arrangements could be successful, despite their complexity.
"The reality is that almost all cases of surrogacy proceed without any problem at all, but there are some social and legal fishhooks which you need to be aware of and are actively managing," Fisher said.
"Our experience with surrogacy in general is very good in New Zealand. It's been extraordinarily rare that there's been any problems at all."
In New Zealand and Australia, commercial surrogacy was illegal, so couples like the Marino-Halls rely on volunteers to donate eggs and become pregnant.
"For some people, donating eggs to somebody is the single, most important thing they do in their life.
"They may not be particularly wealthy, they may not be particularly smart, they may not have a great job, but they can give someone the chance to have a child and for them, that is an amazing thing to do," Fisher added.
About 10 per cent of fertility treatments carried out by Fertility Associates involve surrogacy or donor sperm, eggs or embryos.