For a same-sex couple having a child means entering the daunting world of fertility clinics.

But an Auckland lesbian couple has found a clinic they can vouch for - Repromed - which is the first fertility clinic in New Zealand to get the Rainbow Tick. This is a recognition of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, takatapui and intersex (LGBTTI+) friendly.

After three years of fertility procedures Melanie O'Neill and Laura Matthews now have a 5-month-old son - Killian O'Neill-Matthews.

The couple, both 36, travelled all over the world to surpass the sperm donor wait list that sees New Zealand couples waiting more than six months. But IUI (intrauterine insemination) procedures were unsuccessful in Australia and the US, countries that import sperm.


O'Neill said time was of the essence as she was 34 and a half at the time, and a woman's chances of getting pregnant drop dramatically at 35. A friend had agreed to donate sperm to the couple so they chose to do an IVF cycle with Repromed clinic in Auckland rather than wait to see if IUI would work.

Two weeks later tests confirmed O'Neill was pregnant.

"It was pretty exciting and pretty unbelievable after three years of trying," she said.

"We both always wanted to be parents. The same reason anyone else does. Family is important to us."

For weeks O'Neill took pregnancy tests everyday to make sure they were positive.

The couple lost track of the costs at $30,000. They had three IUI attempts in Australia and two in America, their IVF treatment in New Zealand was around $10,000.

"There's a reason why we drive a 1993 Toyota Corolla", Matthews said.

"We wanted this baby so much. Same-sex couples when they want kids they're doing everything possible to get kids, so other things are sacrificed and the child is loved more than anything."


The couple were cautious about the process. But Remuera-based Repromed surprised them with a warm welcome and were sensitive to their situation.

"Every time we dealt with any forms someone would check if they related to us or not," O'Neill said. "If they had father on there it would have been crossed out.

"We never got something that didn't pertain to us. We always felt that what we were doing was good and fine."

Matthews said Repromed were faultless but that wasn't the same for elsewhere. At the hospital they were asked which one was the mum, both women call themselves mum, and Matthews became frustrated when she had to fill out her details for the birth registration online under the heading "father".

"We're both the mums. Whether your baby was adopted or you're the stepfather or mother of a child you love them the same. It doesn't matter who birthed them.

"He has Mel's nose and he has my star sign."


O'Neill thought it was really cool when she bumped into her nurse and doctor at a stall at the Big Gay Out with her pregnant belly in February.

"It was really cool to walk around and be able to go 'hey it worked'."

The couple, who are engaged and will get married when funds allow, are planning to have another child using the same sperm donor. Matthews wanted to encourage men to donate as it meant the world to people who needed it.

Rainbow Tick spokesman Michael Stevens said Repromed had exceeded the criteria to signal to people from LGBTTI+ backgrounds that their fertility service understood them and would treat them respectfully.

Repromed medical director Dr Guy Gudex said they've played a part in producing over 100 babies to rainbow couples since they started a decade ago using donor eggs, sperm and surrogacy.

They got the Rainbow Tick last year and have just passed their second audit.


To get it, the clinic changed some of their wording to be more inclusive like not having gender as a binary option of male or female, they added a LGBT Fertility section to their website and deeply value giving every client a warm welcome, no matter what their background, Gudex explained.

"We put a huge emphasis on a culture of really embracing gender and ethnic diversity... They're just like everyone else who deserve to have the option to build their families.

"We treat everyone the same but are aware of their individual needs."

​Rainbow Tick

So far 31 organisations have received the Rainbow Tick including HSBC, Spark, the administrative side of New Zealand Rugby and Real Estate Institute of New Zealand. Another 14 organisations are currently going through the process and 10 have expressed interest.

An organisation has to prove that they have support for LGBTTI+ people within management, cover rainbow issues in staff training. Employees are then interviewed by Rainbow Tick to check in on their awareness of being inclusive to people from LGBTTI+ communities.