Ok, so I am going to put this on hold for a bit, just because there won’t be too much to report in the next few weeks. It has become very clear to me, that I won’t be able to get clear information or true quotes, until I have a bunch of testing done to find out what my ovarian profile is. Those test results will give the Indian clinics the information they need to be able to decide what kind of treatment I need (based on how viable my own eggs will be, I guess. I am seeing my own GP in about a week and a half, and she will probably be able to order some, if not all of these tests for me. I have been referred to a fertility clinic in Vancouver, but they haven’t called yet, so being impatient, I am just going to get my GP to start the ball rolling.
In the meantime, I am going to make a scrap book so I can put a map of India in it, and a chart of Rupee/Canadian dollar exchange amounts, so when someone quotes me 500,000 Rupees for a procedure, I don’t freak out. I will use this book to make notes when I make phone calls, or to add bits of information I don’t want to lose. I know everything is done online these days, and of course I will continue to save all that kind of stuff online as well, but a book is easier to carry to places where internet isn’t readily available (like the plane). I also suspect that when I go to India, I won’t want to carry my giant laptop, and my tablet only connects via wifi. I don’t think wifi is vastly available or cheap everywhere in India (I could be wrong).
I have also started to make some of the phone calls here in BC to get information about what will happen when we get back from picking up our baby (fingers crossed!!!). For example, how does a surrogate baby get Medical Service Plan coverage? What kind of leave do I get from work? I will provide all that information here as well, not to worry!
As I mentioned, I have been doing research on a bunch of different clinics, and have started communications with several of them as well.
There are many different things to look at, to decide which clinic to go with; here are a few of them, in no particular order:
How long does the woman need to be in India for ovarian stimulation and matching of cycles prior to embryo implantation? This seems to vary between 2 weeks and a month. Some clinics suggest that the shots can be done in your home country, some say they should be done with the clinic for the whole time, but I would venture a guess that this may be financially based information, rather than health based. I would imagine the clinic, or attached hotel, would benefit greatly from the woman staying in India for a longer period. There is still more work to be done on my part to figure out the “real answer”, and it will probably all become more clear once I see a fertility clinic here in BC.
Where does the surrogate stay while she is pregnant with our baby? For the most part, it seems that the clinics have a surrogate house, where the surrogates all stay while they are pregnant. That allows them to monitor the surrogates health and welfare, and ensure they get proper, regular nutrition. This is all part of the surrogate agreement, and it seems most common. I have found one clinic where that wasn’t clear on their website, but I have emailed them to clarify, as I don’t think I would want our baby willy-nilly all over India while in utero… I am just sayin’.
Can you be in contact with your surrogate? For the most part, the answer seems to be no, that this is not recommended. I think this is for the emotional protection of the surrogate, and also the financial protection of the intended parents. They also recommend you don’t give gifts to your surrogate (even via a third party) because of a few reasons. 1) I guess that opens up the door for blackmail on the part of the surrogate and/or “surrogate handler”; apparently this has happened, and 2) if the surrogate is living in a surrogate house, if one surrogate is “gifted” with presents from her intended parents, and others are not, it could open your surrogate up for resentment and poor relationships while she is sequestered (they don’t call it sequestered, that was me). This makes sense to me, even though it may be one’s instinct to lavish a surrogate with gifts because you are so happy she is doing this for you, they recommend that you gift her afterwards.
I have had various answers as to whether you can ever see your surrogate in person (for one reason to ensure she’s the one you chose), I think the answer is generally yes, because she will never have seen a picture of you, she wouldn’t know who you were if you were in a room with her.
Also, some clinics say you can be present for the birth, some say no. I will explore this later, when I am in real intense “negotiations” with a clinic.
As far as contact goes, I am somewhat disappointed that it’s generally not recommended to have some sort of a relationship with the surrogate after the baby is born, as I think my child will probably be curious about this person when they become old enough, and it may be an emotional issue if you just say “sorry, you have no hope of finding this woman who gave you life”. I would also like to be able to update the surrogate over the years, but hey, maybe I am being selfish, and maybe the surrogates truly wouldn’t be interested. I find that hard to believe, but this is a different culture… so it’s just hard for me to wrap my head around at this early stage.
Can frozen embryos be used? Can frozen sperm be used? Frozen sperm apparently has nearly the exact same success rate, so in general it has been very clear that the man doesn’t have to be in India as long, if at all. Frozen embryos are successful, but far less than fresh. I am pretty sure I have decided we will use fresh embryos for our transfer.
How many eggs are harvested and/or embryos created? It seems like they generally try to harvest as many eggs as possible, thus the ovarian stimulation. They can then use the rest if the first try doesn’t work. Most places implant several, and hope for the best. Even though several are implanted, it seems the chances of multiples are quite low, and some clinics have limits on how many embryos will be kept in the uterus if several are successful, like one clinic doesn’t allow their surrogates to carry more than twins. More info on this later, when I learn more, because I am pretty certain we only want one baby, so I am a bit scared if twins happen to magically occur.
Can you select the sex of your baby? No, gender selection is illegal in India. I am sure illegal things happen, but I am not pursuing this, so will not be providing any more information on this particular topic.
How long do you have to stay in India after the baby is born? For Canadian couples, this seems to be about one month. There are several steps that are required, and they all take certain amounts of time, and are often dependent upon one another. For example, you must have a DNA test for the baby, to ensure the baby is genetically related to you, your partner, or both. From what I understand at this early stage, the baby’s Canadian passport will not be issued until this result is completed (at a Canadian DNA testing clinic, but the samples can be expedited from India to one of these clinics), and I believe the Indian government won’t release the baby from the country before this is done.
This is different for every country, so if you are in Australia, UK, USA, etc., the time may not be a month.
Ok, those are some of the salient points I have learned, so will sign off for now, and probably not add much more until I have done the appropriate testing with my doctor here in BC.