'There’s a stigma attached to it we want abolished' – Kiwi same-sex couple detail three-year surrogacy battle

Source: 1News

A gay Kiwi couple who are new parents to a six-week old baby boy - born to a surrogate - say their many years jumping through legal hoops and fighting social stigma will be worth it if parenthood is made easier for other same-sex couples.

Appearing on TVNZ1's Breakfast with their newborn Francis, Christian Newman and Mark Edwards are calling for reform of New Zealand's adoption laws which they say enforce undue checks and hurdles even after their surrogacy had been approved. 

"We went through quite a strict process with ethics before we were even allowed to start IVF," Christian says.

"Now what that means is we had counselling sessions, we had legal letters and referrals etc, and that took six months and about $10,000.

"That there should be enough for us to take the child once he or she is born. We shouldn't then have to go through another six months at the end to go through the adoption process.

"We've done everything that's required, this process has taken us three years in total, so there's a lot of hoops that we had to jump through, and that's probably one of the main ones we'd like to see changed."

Right now, the legal guardianship of baby Francis is still with his surrogate mother Aleisha Hart.  

Christian and Mark say they have been in and out of New Zealand courts seven times in order to transfer the legal guardianship over to them.

"A VERY OLD LAW"

Mark says the reason for this is an outdated New Zealand Adoption Act, drafted in the 1950s. 

"Christian and I actually had to get married before we could adopt Francis because legally if we're not married we can only adopt a female," Mark says.

"It's just a very old law that needs to be fixed."

Adopting a foreign baby was also out of the question for Christian and Mark.

"There's no international adoption laws that allow us to do that at the moment," Christian says.

"So we can only adopt in New Zealand, and it think the last time we checked there was 154 adoptions in the country, so that was very minimal."

Christian and Mark say they have been working with Labour MP Louisa Wall to update the adoption laws, and say there is a draft reform bill Ms Wall has been working on they are fully behind.

"BLOWN AWAY BY ALL THE LOVE"

Surrogate mother Aleisha Hart, says her decision to get involved with Christian and Mark's journey to become parents was largely inspired by the story of their legal hardships - she first saw them detailed on a Facebook page.

"Really I've just been blown away by all the love near and far and I think I've made a pretty good life choice really with what I've done," Aliesha says.

"I was just drawn to their page when I saw it advertised, and I just felt like it was something I could do, something that was easy enough to do, and a gift that I could give that was never ending really."

Christian says he knows there are many other same-sex couples that are in the same position they were, but have not been so lucky to have such generosity from a surrogate.

"People just love what we're doing, people love that we're clearing the way for them to have children in the future and we're removing the barriers, not only cost but whether it be two names on a birth certificate, two fathers on a birth certificate, or finding a surrogate, there's so many different avenues and options out there now for same sex couples," he says.

Watch Christian and Mark's full story on Sunday through TVNZ On Demand.