Gay couple in Australia seeking Maori woman's donor eggs
A married same-sex couple in Australia is taking the unusual step of advertising in the newspaper for a Maori woman to help them realise their dream of becoming parents.
Nelson and Baden Marino-Hall, who live in the southern Queensland city of Toowoomba, have placed an advert in The Dominion Post for a Maori egg donor to come forward so both men can each father a child with the same Maori genetic links.
While Nelson is Australian, Baden is of Maori descent and grew up in Otaki, on the Kapiti Coast, before moving across the Tasman a decade ago.
"We're very mindful of Baden and his Maori connections and we want to continue that legacy," Nelson Marino-Hall said.
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A prospective donor would be flown to Australia for up to two treatments, with the couple also open to the woman becoming a surrogate for two pregnancies.
"The sense of family is really important to us, so we want to create a wonderful life for our child [or children], a very loving and supportive one," Nelson said.
The pair married at Lake Taupo on New Year's Eve last year and have been together for about four years.
"Ever since we met, we've always toyed with the idea of starting our own family and one thing is for sure - we won't give up," Baden explained.
Nelson works in public relations, while Baden is a banker. Together, the pair also runs a lucrative renovation company called The Reno Lads.
"Baden and I have worked really hard throughout our careers. We're now at the stage we're set up and very comfortable and we really want to give that love back to our own child," Nelson said.
A prospective donor would need to have a history of good health, be a non-smoker, ideally aged between 24 and 30, and would have finished having their own children.
Australian and New Zealand law meant donors could not be paid.
Since the advert was printed, the couple has received some interest, but nothing concrete yet. The couple has also been using an app called Just A Baby to connect with potential donors and surrogates.
Massey University Associate Professor of Public Health, Marewa Glover, who has researched Maori attitudes towards assisted reproductive technology, said there was a "precedent" within Maori culture that - historically - if a family member wanted to become a parent but were unable to, a surrogate could be found within the whanau.
"I suppose one of the questions would be 'what would be the role of the biological mother?' In New Zealand, what's of importance to Maori here is that children will know their whakapapa."
Glover said friends of hers in similar situations have formed relationships with the biological mother - something the Marino-Halls were "open to" - but she noted it could be complex.
Fertility Associates counsellor, Joi Ellis, said each party would need good legal advice, especially given the relationship straddles two countries.
"Egg donation demands a huge amount of trust between people," she said.
"If you're advertising for someone, then you're going to have to spend quite a lot of time getting to know each other. Not only do the guys need to trust that the person is going to give them the baby, she has to trust that they are going to take the baby."
New Zealand law meant the birth mother would have legal rights to the child even if an agreement was in place for the baby to go into the couple's care, Ellis said.
"Egg donation and surrogacy is a lifelong relationship that people are entering into and it has implications for the egg donor, the egg donor's partner or future partner, her own children, her parents and her siblings and their children."