Meeting With Our Surrogate
Updated: 4 hours ago
Women are extraordinary. And even though it is true that I have always had the utmost respect for them, but recently came to realise that I had never been anywhere close to understanding what it really meant to be a woman. Not until our own efforts to become LGBT+ parents began, and we embarked on the amazing surrogacy journey with the fabulous woman who would give birth to our daughter.
The expression “Men are from Mars and Women from Venus” has taken on a completely different meaning for me. Asking questions, and listening – not assuming – to the responses, and caring is my modus operandi.
In my blog post “Surrogacy - A journey of love, patience and resilience!” I talked about the surrogacy process and what it requires from intended parents. Here I will be focusing on the beginning of our partnership with the selfless woman who has changed our lives.
What does gay parenting mean?
We were asked during our surrogacy application:
What are your plans for childcare once the child is born?
This is one of the many questions we had to answer when we registered with our surrogacy agency. All our expectations of parenthood were covered, from how we would raise our child to the type of relationship we want to have with our surrogate, before, during as well as after the birth.
Many of these questions could apply to any parenting situation, especially when it comes to potentially heart-breaking situations.
Sitting down and discussing all of this, including situations where pregnancy termination could become recommended by the medical team, helped my husband and I to prepare ourselves as a couple.
We flushed out areas we had never talked about before like our LGBT parenting journey and religion; some of them, because we did not know they could and should be a consideration. This process also highlighted those topics where we were not on the same page as future gay dads. And I came to realise we had talked about many things over the years, but many of these discussions had been inconclusive. We had not been forced to come to any firm conclusions with each other on any of the topics, simply because the discussions were mostly non-committal. We could have them again the day after and completely change our minds, without consequence.
But no longer. By putting down on paper where we stood on topics such as pregnancy termination, religion, education and many more situations, we were forced to have the “real” discussions. And more importantly, to talk in a calm and (almost) “non-emotional” setting. More importantly, we were addressing those topics upfront, and not in the middle of a crisis, with potential lives at stake.
Also, we were writing down this stuff not only for ourselves. Our responses to those many questions were to be a pillar for our future partnership with our surrogate. They were acts of commitment.
We are all human beings!
Whether it is altruistic or a commercial surrogacy, the woman carrying the child will experience major physical and emotional changes. She will most likely experience morning sickness, her hormonal levels will be all over the place, she will potentially feel (a lot of) pain, if not go through a complete ordeal.
No sum of money can make up for that. Kindness, compassion and looking after her as a human being can.
I am convinced that the few horror stories I read online about surrogacy going wrong came about because the surrogacy journey was “transactional”.
My husband and I were clear from the outset that our LGBT+ parenting journey should be a partnership. It should be based on trust, integrity, and respect. If those values could not be achieved, we would not go ahead.
We ended up with much more than we could have hoped for. Our surrogate and her family, will stay in our lives and the life of our daughter for the many years to come. They have become close friends, and our life is much richer for them.
Not everyone can – or should – be a surrogate!
Before we formally engaged with the surrogacy agency, we investigated at length their surrogate programme and screening process.
Through our research, we came across a few horrible journeys. Human stories that had ended in tears for all parties involved – not to mention the legal battles - and we absolutely wanted to avoid that. We were looking for a positive and joyful journey for all - a true partnership.
I am convinced that the issues that people have encountered over the years have stemmed from a poor vetting process. Having reviewed several agencies in Canada, some of them very clearly favoured “quantity” over “quality” when it came to recruiting surrogate women.
I also realised how little people really knew about anything to do with the surrogate vetting process, at least when it came to our agency. So here are a few examples:
1) Most importantly, a surrogate must have already had a child(ren) of her own. And she must not want any additional child(ren), at least not in the immediate future.
2) A surrogate must be in a stable financial situation.
3) A surrogate must have a strong personal support system to help her throughout the journey.
4) She, and her partner when applicable, must be thoroughly assessed by a counsellor, as we would have to do as intended parents too.
This is the one!
We were reassured by the agency vetting process. For us it meant a long wait as the number of eligible surrogate women was drastically limited, for good reasons. In the end, it took us 2.5yrs before we were finally matched with our surrogate.
It can be very unsettling for intended parents to have to wait this long. And if we are being honest, the matching process felt somewhat like a black box. There wasn’t any guide to how the intended parent profile was shared with the surrogate group, and how big that group really was, etc. All of these remain a mystery to this day.
But the day that the long-awaited email arrived, we both experienced a whirlwind of emotions. It was both exhilarating and scary. At this point, it is worthwhile mentioning that our surrogate chose us first based on our profile; we only confirmed once we met with her.
So, we reached out very quickly to her and agreed on a catch up. And it was love at first sight so to speak.
During the months following our initial meeting, experiencing our surrogacy in COVID time, we exchanged many messages and talked with each other many times a day and every day – and we still do to this day, months after the birth.
We lived the pregnancy journey mostly through her eyes; from the joyful moment when the 2 red stripes appeared on the pregnancy test, through the pain and scares when we thought we might have lost the baby, to the 48h labour ordeal - all the many irreplaceable moments that combined to create our precious bond of friendship, and which culminated in one of the most amazing gifts that anyone could ever give us.