'I’m one of very few Australian surrogates. This is what people can’t understand.'

At 33-years-old, Alanna Keleher knows she’s done having biological children.

She gave birth to her two children in her early 20s and is now raising her girls, aged 10 and 8 with her partner of 12 years. She has a great job in the corporate world and is loving putting her career in the spotlight. Life feels pretty sweet and whole and complete.

But just eight weeks ago, she gave birth to a baby boy.

Except he was never hers, she says. He is someone else’s child.

Keleher is one of the very special women in Australia who has gone on to become a surrogate for a family struggling with infertility. It’s an area of fertility that isn’t talked about a lot and that probably boils down to the fact there are only around 100 surrogacy births that take place in Australia each year.

There are a number of reasons behind why that number is so low but chiefly among them is the restriction which makes it illegal for anyone to enter into a commercial surrogacy agreement. Therefore, any surrogacy that happens must purely be altruistic.

Then there’s the fairly complicated paperwork that needs to be filled out, the mandatory counselling sessions, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and clear guidelines are mapped out. This all needs to happen before you even begin the medical journey which involves tests, ultrasounds, medications, appointments and if IVF needs to take place then that opens up a whole new avenue of extensive procedures.

And then of course there is the hurdle of moving past a preconceived idea that once all is said and done – will I want to give the baby away?


It’s a lot. A lot for someone to undertake both physically and mentally. But there are people in Australia who do this from the kindness of their heart with zero financial compensation.

So why do it?

It’s a question that Keleher has been asked a lot and it’s a big reason why she started making TikTok videos in order to lift the veil on surrogacy and dispel any misconceptions people may have.

"Anytime anyone puts surrogacy in the media, it usually is a horror story of some sort," she told Mamamia over the phone.

"They very rarely show the good side behind it."

The good side behind it. That’s very much what intrigues me about surrogacy and Keleher’s story. Because it really is one of the most selfless things you can do which means it can only come from the most pure of intentions.

As I learned more about Keleher’s journey as a surrogate, there were so many opportunities for her to walk away and anyone in their right mind would have.

It was anything but an easy process but one that she stuck with for over two years because she was driven by something that goes beyond logic. Beyond what we think we can physically and mentally endure.

She knew that she could help a family find the very thing they were heart achingly pining for and she wouldn’t stop until they had it.


Alanna Keleher and her partner. Image: Supplied.

Keleher wasn’t a total novice to the world of IVF, donors and surrogacy after watching her sister conceive a child using donor sperm. She was aware of a private Facebook group that connected surrogates and families – it was something she had often considered but back in 2020 it felt like the right time to explore this further.


She shared a post in the group and almost immediately received floods of messages from families all desperately on the hunt for a surrogate. A post like hers would’ve been like seeing a unicorn in the wild. A glimmer of hope for so many. After trawling through the messages she had a difficult choice to make: select a family to help make their dreams come true.

How do you even make a decision like that? Keleher herself had a number of criteria for the successful intended parents and she found a local couple that had fit that bill. Initially, she met with them in a crowded shopping centre and they clicked instantly.

"We really saw eye to eye on so many things," she said. "Our views on parenting, the surrogacy community and what our expectations were."

The next step was for the intended parents to meet her family – after all she knew this was a joint decision that would affect her partner and her children. She wanted to make sure everyone felt comfortable with moving forward. With two young girls at home ultimately her journey as a surrogate would have a life long impact on them.

"I was always very honest with my girls about it when I was considering it (surrogacy and egg donation)," she said.

After they all met and had some important private conversations, Keleher felt comfortable pushing on with the next steps. Her daughters were excited to have a "cousin" and her partner was fully on board to support whatever she chose to do.

An official offer to become their surrogate was put forward, and the journey began.


The first steps included a number of counselling sessions with both the intended parents and Keleher's family to ensure everyone had the opportunity to ask questions and feel comfortable about the process ahead in a safe space. Lawyers then become involved and official contracts are drawn up.

Their surrogacy plan was to use a donor egg and the intended father's sperm to create an embryo before implanting in Keleher's uterus to carry the baby to term. However, after some medical complications the donor's egg became unviable, so they were faced with figuring out how to move forward.

After a rocky start and early disappointment for the intended parents, Keleher wasn't ready to give up – she was determined to give this couple their dream. She decided to become a traditional surrogate (which is legal in the state of Queensland) where she would donate her eggs. Initially, they began a process without medical intervention whereby they would privately collect semen and do a live transfer when Keleher was ovulating.

The intended parents and Keleher would meet up and, as they say, try to make a baby.

"I would be downstairs, they would be upstairs and they’d bring down a syringe of special juices," she said.

This process lasted 12 months and after four chemical pregnancies which ended in miscarriages, they were dealt another devastating blow.

It had now been two years since they began this journey and there was no baby in their arms. Keleher and the intended parents were devastated. She had put her body through so much already and the couple were starting to lose hope. The fatigue of loss and heartbreak had set in.


Then Keleher offered one final solution — she would go through a round of IVF using her harvested eggs and donor sperm to try and create some viable embryos. For anyone who has undergone IVF they would be well aware what a commitment this generous offer is. Not only do you have to give yourself daily hormone medication in the form of painful needles but it is an incredibly taxing process on your body and mind.

But Keleher didn't want to stop until she had exhausted every option for this couple.

Then finally, came joy.

After a successful harvest doctors were able to retrieve 19 eggs which resulted in 10 high quality embryos after they were fertilised with the donor sperm.

A transfer of the embryo took place and Keleher fell pregnant. Nine months after an uncomplicated pregnancy, Keleher gave birth to a healthy baby boy in March, 2024.

The intended parents were in the birth suite when their child was placed on Keleher's chest taking his first breaths in this world — a moment that usually creates an incredible bond between mother and child.

@deadlynytshade Birth journey of little surrobub #surrogacy #surrogate #birth #induction #australiansurrogacy #makeababy #birthstory #athousandyears #breastfeeding #newbornbaby #brisbane #qld #australia #39weeks #39weekspregnant ♬ a thousand years - Christina Perri

With such a monumental moment taking place, this is the one question people seem to have when they find out Keleher has been a surrogate — 'aren't you afraid you'll become too attached to the baby and you won't want to give it up?'


But in this case, Keleher felt no attachment.

"When they put the baby on me my first thought was, oh my god, that’s not my baby," she said.

"As soon as I saw him and he was on me, I felt like he was 100 per cent theirs. Instantly they had a bond with him and instantly I did not. Most women have it in their head that they would get too attached to the baby and it would have been too hard, which isn’t actually the case."

The intended parents at the birth of their child. Image: Supplied.


After a delayed chord cutting, Keleher gave the surrogate baby a first breastfeed and handed him over to his parents for their first skin to skin contact. For the duration of their hospital stay they were in another room and intermittently brough the baby to Keleher for feeds. When speaking about that process Keleher says she wanted to give the baby the best start in life by breastfeeding however she was able to make that distinction between nourishing and connection.

Now, around nine weeks postpartum, Keleher is still expressing around five times a day and delivers the milk to the parents. After four weeks off work she has returned to the office and has more or less resumed her normal life. 

@deadlynytshade Funny little interaction #surrogate #worklife #corporategirly #maternityleave #surrogacy #funny #nofilter #fyp #shorthair #aussie #australian #storytime #grwm #bob #peoplebeingrude #rude ♬ original sound - Lana

When I asked her what it's like slipping back into regular programming after such a massive few years Keleher says that it's hard for people to wrap their head around how she has been able to disconnect from any attachment to the baby she grew.

"It’s not like I could miss him because I never had him," she said.

She wants people to know she was able to make that distinction because from the jump she wasn’t planning a life with him in it. At least as her child.

"When he was born, it was kind of like meeting someone for the first time and I met him as a nephew," she said.


They now have an incredible close bond with the parents and share birthdays and major milestones together — it's not the conventional family construct we were taught growing up, but it works for them and is brimming with so much love.

So, looking back would Keleher do it all again knowing what it took to give this couple the baby of their dreams?

"If these parents want a second child, then I will do it for them," she said.

With a further nine healthy embryos frozen she says there's a possibility in the future she will become a surrogate for them again.

"I had no reservations about what kind of parents they were going to be and how loved the baby was going to be," she said.

Surrogacy is not for the fainthearted. It comes with major sacrifices but when all is said and done, being able to give a couple the very thing they lay awake dreaming of was all it took for Keleher to do it. And she'd do it again and again just to see them beaming with joy finally holding their baby. There's great meaning in that and perhaps it's something not everyone will understand. But for Keleher she's given the greatest gift and how bloody lucky are we to have people like her in this world.

Featured image: TikTok/@deadlynytshade/Supplied.

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