hi, it’s me…. it’s been quite a while. i guess i have been procrastinating this post because it’s not great news. we will not be pursuing surrogacy any further. period.
so, prepare for an epic post here, because i need to get some things off my chest.
several factors have led us to this decision, including finances, the let-down of our trip to Mumbai in June/July, how we felt about the clinic we used, the lack of other countries where surrogacy is done well, and the fact that the other couple we “know” from Canada who is currently still in Mumbai with their two and a half month old twins are STILL there since the end of June and there is no end in sight as far as i know at the present moment.
let’s tackle these one at a time, shall we?
finances – considering that we went to Mumbai twice, at the total cost of approximately $15,000 – 20,000 and came back with absolutely nothing, not even hope, has helped us decide it’s not a good idea. we might as well buy lottery tickets… seriously.
the clinic we used – to be honest, the reason we haven’t blogged our real feelings about the clinic is because there had been a partial refund in the works, because the person helping us financially, paid up front for the clinic services for the June/July trip, and we couldn’t risk the clinic would read this blog (yes, there are often readers from India) and hold back the money. holy shit, i can’t even believe any money was ever refunded. i joke with hubby that they had to wait for a buyer for his sperm samples, because it is absolutely not outside the realm of possibilities that his gorgeous tall, blond haired, blue eyed wigglers have been sold or are on the market as we speak. that’s how much we trust the process and the people.
what bothers us about the clinic? well, the doctors were basically the problem. the front end staff and nurses that i encountered were caring and seemed to want to do their job to a degree, but the doctors seemed like shysters. in the entire time i was communicating with them, they were constantly taking AGES to get back to me. i know docs are busy; i work in healthcare, and have worked in a hospital setting, so i know this, but i would wait for three or four or eight days for a one word response, then when i needed any clarity, had to wait again. no big deal. the first time we went to Mumbai, the doctor didn’t show up and we had to use a different doctor. “our” doctor claimed she thought we were coming the following week, even though i had sent her many emails confirming the date and saying things like “can’t wait to meet you this Friday” or “i look forward to our appointment on the 8th” or “we are in the airport in Korea now, getting excited” or whatever. no biggie, we liked the second doctor at that point, so it was ok (though still bugged me inside).
the second trip, we waited a long time for the doctor at every appointment, which is pretty normal even for Canada, but often she would say she needed to see me, then i would go in, and a clerk would see me or a nurse only. nothing was really explained to me, i never really knew what was going on, what medication they were injecting me with, and just a really basic plan. i was really sick there, and the one visit where i nearly fainted, they were concerned, but it almost seemed like more concern over risk to their clinic than because i was sick. for example, the moment i was in the vulnerable sick position, not even particularly coherent, the doctor jumped on the opportunity to present the fact that had been very successful many times with couples using donor eggs. she explained that they could take hubby’s sample right away, and all we would have to do would be pick a donor, go home, and nine months later, pick up the baby, plus i believe she talked about how affordable it was compared to continuing on the present course and how they could apply some of the money already paid to the process of using a donor and a surrogate womb. in the same conversation she kept telling me that had she known my exact BMI, she probably wouldn’t have taken me as a client and she had no idea, blah blah blah. i have mentioned before that i am definitely a plus-sized lady and had certainly mentioned it to her many times, though i must admit i had never told her my exact BMI, and she had never asked or had a slot for it in the clinic forms. not something they screen for, i guess. she basically was talking a good “cover her ass” talk. anyways, this may all sound extremely normal to some folks, but the language she used when talking to me about the donor potential was almost exactly to the word of the ONE complaint i had managed to find prior to selecting that clinic, it was so similar, it was eerie. even in my ill state, i was thinking “holy shit, this is a script she’s said 1,000 times to people in a vulnerable position.”
so, since i had been having injections for a few days, i asked her to check my ovaries and based on what she found in terms of egg growth, we could make the decision from there. i was taken into the ultrasound suite (which was totally disgusting btw, and not really a suite), and she asked for the other doctor to be with her for backup (a witness), and they performed the ultrasound. during the ultrasound, they spoke to each other in their language, even though both of them spoke perfectly great English, and nodded to each other, and cut eyes at each other in meaningful ways, and then they co-told me that based on what they found, i probably had about a 5% chance of even one good egg, and that was being generous. so in their professional opinion (though of course the decision was mine) it wouldn’t be worth the worth going through all the potential illness of the hormone therapy while i was already really sick (unrelated sickness), when there really was almost no chance of this working, and probably donor was our best option. after the procedure (avert your eyes if you are squeamish) i noticed that they had not used a “condom” on the intra-vaginal ultrasound wand, which is common and common-sense practice in Canada. i just wanted to get the F out of there, so i just nodded and made appropriate noises in the affirmative and went back to the hotel to digest, though i had already made the decision that i was done with any medical treatment for my own body in India, ever, ever, ever, ever. while i had been on the gurney, nearly fainting (i have never fainted before or been that close), being prodded by nurses and questioned by the doctors about future decisions and financial options, all i could think about was “holy crap, travel medical insurance, though i have it, does not cover any expenses or repatriation to your home country if your illness or injury is the result of travel for medical reasons. omg, what if i die here or get really, really, really sick here and am not covered and can’t get home?!”
so, together we made a final decision to not proceed, though w decided that it would be a good idea to leave sperm samples, just in case, and the doctor was almost gleeful. all business, no personality, no compassion…
let me mention, that since our return home, we have heard NOT ONE WORD from our doctor or clinic. nothing to ask how we are doing or have we given any thought to any future plans, how is my health, not a wee email, not a call, nothing. the only correspondence happened with the person who was helping us financially with things, because she had to deal with the clinic directly, as the refund had to go to her credit card. again, let me say how amazed i am that ANY refund was provided at all, but i guess they hoped that perhaps we would one day return to spend even MORE money, so it was a good faith gesture.
so, let’s go back in time to where i was doing research about which clinic we should use and talk a little bit about how i made my decision and a conclusion i have drawn since.
when researching, i did TONS of internet research (you can go back in the blog and check out what i documented) and also “spoke” to a few people who had used the clinic in the past. so, i think the operative phrase here is “the past”. what i have found since and the conclusion i have drawn, is that there is a very new clinic in Mumbai, called the Corion Clinic, which was opened by a female doctor who USED TO work at the clinic we went to. Corion Clinic and this doctor are currently getting rave reviews (including two successful couples who i have directly corresponded with during their current surrogacy journeys, and who have been very, very happy with the service, quality, and compassion they are receiving throughout). so, what i have concluded and i could totally be wrong, is that this particular doctor used to work at “our” clinic, and was awesome and successful (thus the great reviews and success stories i heard first hand), and that she decided to branch out on her own and took all the quality with her. i can only make this conclusion, because our experience was such a contradiction to all my research, and it makes me feel better. so there.
other countries – as far as other countries, i cannot really find that much information about positive experiences in other countries where all factors combine to make it something we would think about. there are always clinics in places like Thailand, Mexico, and others, but when you delve into the process, there is always something janky. in Thailand, the surrogate and her husband are on the birth certificate and you have to adopt your fully genetic baby, in Mexico i could only find one clinic (it’s only legal in one Mexican state), and while the advertising is great, i found horrible reviews and even YouTube videos from some of their surrogates complaining about how they were treated and not paid. Cyprus is another one, but when you read about it, it seems like the surrogate is from Cyprus and things are arranged in Cyprus, but it’s not legal there… so i stopped reading.
“the other couple” – lastly, but certainly not leastly… one of the couples that used Corion successfully, is a couple i have mentioned before, and they are actually from Vancouver, Canada, (same as us) so i have been able to experience vicariously through them, the latter end of the surrogacy journey for Canadians in India. from the information i have been provided, their experience post birth of their glorious twins, has been 100% without support from the Canadian government. they have been provided with no guidance, no information, no assistance, no communications, no timelines, and no hope from their own government. they are Canadians and yet they have all been stranded for nearly three months, in a foreign country, in a hotel room. they have put their jobs and finances at risk, their health at risk, their lives on hold, they have depended upon their families and friends for support, and gotten nothing from their country. yes, it was their choice, but doesn’t one expect some sort of support from your country? we are all supposed to be proud to be Canadian, but this has been abysmal in my opinion. one of the funny things we learned, is that other countries do not treat their citizens with such disregard, and ALL other couples doing surrogacy in the hotel where the Canadian couple is, has come and gone with their babies. ONLY the Canadian couple is sitting there still. it’s disgusting. anyways, rant over. i am really wishing them good luck to get home and hope the government gets their act together. however, i can’t see this process (or lack thereof) changing in the next while, so on top of everything else, we cannot imagine three months or more in Mumbai, especially after our experience there.
so there you have it. the full story with all the gory details. we won’t be pursuing surrogacy any further, and we have yet to decide if we will do anything child-related going forward. we have always been so happy together and this was a major storm to weather, and we made it through, still loving and not angry with each other for anything we went through, which is totally amazing and wonderful.
i will try to get the Vancouver couple to blog when they get home (you know who you are), but they might just be too freaking busy with their twin bundles and reuniting with family and friends and working, etc…. so no promises.
as a side note, people from 54 (yes, FIFTY FOUR) countries have read this blog or parts of it, so i know that there are readers out there desperate for information. so any of you doing this, from any country, blog blog blog… help others negotiate the journey, contribute to the surrogacy community, be there for each other. if you do blog, feel free to send me your link, and i will post on my blog for others to find.
in conclusion, my recommendations about surrogacy in other countries would be to (and this is going to be a downer, so if you want to just see daisies pushing through dirt, avert your eyes):
- do more research than you can ever imagine
- make sure all the information you find is totally current
- include research on both ends (the surrogacy country and your own country)
- talk to the surrogacy doctor as much as possible before you go (wherever)
- talk to YOUR doctor in your home country and make sure they are totally on board with your choice, as they will have to support you and potentially your kids if you have success, and they will certainly have to advocate for you if you have a medical emergency out of your country
- GET TRAVEL INSURANCE, NO MATTER WHAT!!! FOR BOTH OF YOU!!! (though it may not cover things related to the medical procedures, it may cover getting hit by a car or a cow or a tuktuk or an elephant or monkey bites). travel insurance is your ONLY HOPE of being repatriated back to Canada without having to pay thousands (and i mean tens or hundreds of thousands) of dollars
- get all your paperwork in order
- have more money than you really need, because lots of expenses come up and change along the way
- be ready for disappointment, over and over and over (if it doesn’t happen, great, but be prepared)
- make sure your relationship is sooooooooo strong
- talk about what you will do if not successful; don’t pin your life on this being successful, because contrary to advertisements, it’s not as easy or foolproof as they would have you believe
- take all kinds of contact numbers with you
- talk to your local politicians before you go, see if they will support you getting back (your local MP, mayor, whatever there is), see if they will advocate for you if need be
- be strategic if going to a developing country. you are a money machine to them, they will not always tell the truth, they are persuasive, they do this for a living, for money, not for compassion. other countries are not like Canada, do not expect anything to be the same… NOTHING (toilet paper, milk, food, the way you are treated, respected, trust, etc.)
- ok, i am going to log off now, cuz i am super drained, and i will add more in the future if i think of anything (i am sure there is lots)
i am signing off for now, and don’t know if/when i will be back. i am not all bitter and would be super happy to share information if anyone needs any. just leave a comment with your email address, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . seriously, i don’t mind… not one bit.
thanks to all our family and friends who have supported us through this journey (holy shit it’s nearly a year). while i have experienced lots of indirect judgement online in the stuff i have read (none directly on my blog, which is great), i have mostly experienced nothing but support, support, support from our family and friends, more than we ever imagined in some ways, so it’s been an experience that has made us feel lucky too.
i wish so much luck to anyone who is currently going through the surrogacy process and am not suggesting that people don’t use surrogacy as an option, but just be so careful. you may be vulnerable, and it’s a perfect chance for others to take advantage of you if you aren’t careful. be wise, be strong, don’t take shit. good luck.