here’s another blog to share, this is a bit of a different perspective from a same sex couple who has done surrogacy in both India and USA. so there may be some interesting tidbits for folks:
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.
so, in reality, i wasn’t even close to being better at last post, my body faked me out and i thought i felt better, but i wasn’t. now i am feeling quite a bit better and am going to be able to start doing what needs to be done to get ready for the trip. i can’t believe we fly out in 2.5 days, it’s come up so fast!!!
our first appointment with the clinic is booked for the first day we arrive, so i can get the first ultrasound and i would imagine the first shots.
we are very excited and nervous; i guess this visit to India is going to finally answer whether we can have a baby or not…. so the next few weeks are key.
good luck to all the other couples out there who are going through the same thing at the same time. i know of at least four others on very similar timing, and whether we ever meet any of you or not, it’s nice to know there are others in a similar boat, on a similar journey. if you are reading this in the future and are about to go through this journey, i would recommend you do whatever you can to talk to others who are going through it to, it’s just comforting is all.
anyways, lots of preparation work to do, so signing off for now.
i have been sooooo sick the last 48 hours or so, i guess i had some sort of a stomach bug, and it’s been so bad i haven’t been able to read, watch tv, do anything much on the computer (the screen movement makes me nauseated). doing simple tasks has made me so weak i have actually laid down on the floor… pathetic i tell you!!!
i think i have turned a corner though, i am feeling a bit better, though still really weak, as i didn’t eat anything that whole time except two bananas and some gatorade. i think i will try some chicken noodle soup today, get my strength back.
i cannot tell you how happy i am that this happened now instead of on travel day, because i can honestly tell you that i was so sick i would have cancelled the trip; there is NO WAY i could have traveled that way. none, zero, zippo, zilch. ok, maybe if they had a bed on the plane that was right next to the bathroom… but even that would have been pushing it.
oh well, moving forward! five days til we are in the air. let’s just cross our fingers that hubby doesn’t get it… send those vibes again for him folks, they seem to have been very successful so far whenever i have asked!
we are flying out a week today. this time our flight is almost identical, EXCEPT the ridiculous 7.5 hour layover in Seattle… this time we don’t have that, so it’s going to be much better.
i am hoping i can sleep on the plane this time; i won’t be pulling an all-nighter the night before, as it clearly did not help with the sleeping. i will try to get a normal night sleep so that at least i am well-rested at the start of the journey, unlike last time.
how does one pack for a three week trip? it’s been awhile. we are so bad at packing, we always pack too much, but i can’t imagine packing too much for three weeks. i guess we just have to focus on only bringing stuff we know we will wear. i hate having a item still folded nicely when i return home, knowing i didn’t even pull that thing out of my suitcase the whole time. waste of space!
the hotel has a laundry service, so maybe we will just use that so we can pack less.
i am already thinking of missing my cats. it’s been a long time since the older boys have missed us for three weeks, and the younger boy never has had us go away for very long at all, and since he was abandoned outside before we found him, i hope he doesn’t think we are leaving him as well. at least they have a familiar face to look in on them a few times a day and keep them to their routine. thankful for good friends during this journey…. that’s for sure!!!
gathering together the loose ends of stuff we need to take with us, will start making a packing list tonight, and we both have the weekend and Monday off before we leave, so we will have some time to get organized and spend quality time with “the boys”.
oh yeah, i also found out we didn’t ever get our third shot of Twinrix, so we will have to go get it on Thursday. another expense, but better than having hepatitis…
we got our mosquito spray with DEET and our anti-malaria pills… sunscreen is probably readily available over there… or maybe it will just rain the whole time… what else? what else? i guess that’s what the list will be for… making sure we have thought of everything.
signing off for now!
i just wanted to note the fact that we will be in Mumbai during this year’s monsoon season. apparently they start almost like clockwork, and this year they started a few days early, just a few days ago. judging how hot it was when we were there early in May, and also by the various blog posts i have found describing the first rains this year, new life is springing forth everywhere and people’s moods have changed with the freshness. apparently people do get grumpy because the rains cause train delays and traffic jams, but it’s a better temperature and it’s not so dusty and overwhelmingly hot. i have got my phone set to show me the weather in a few places, including Mumbai, and i have happily noticed that thunder and lightening storms are often predicted (three days this week!!!!). living in the Lower Mainland we rarely get any of these, and i am EXTREMELY excited about this!
anyone who knows me, knows i love the rain, and especially when it’s warm outside and i get ridiculously excited about storms. i ensured that we got hubby a rain coat and that both of us will bring some sort of plastic shoes.
8 days today is our planned trip, and judging by how i am feeling today, this is just the start of my excitement.
i will let you all know when i have our visas in hand.
so i am going to submit our applications again this morning. i so hope it’s all in order, because our trip is booked for us to leave on June 18th, so that doesn’t leave much time. i am preparing myself for a constant state of anxiety while waiting…. sigh.
let the good vibage commence!!
ok folks, the BLS office (visa submission office) said that our packages were nearly perfect. the only two things that were missing were a list of the costs associated with the surrogacy (which is no problem to provide) and then hubby and i were missing one other piece of important information, but it’s not going to be relevant to any of you, so i won’t mention it. this will prove a little harder to get, but i am HOPING to have it in the next two days, so i can resubmit on Thursday or Friday.
apparently it takes “a fortnight” to process, which is two weeks, so we are really cutting it close here, because we really need to leave in three weeks, or wait til a new cycle.
i am going to need all your good vibes sent our way in the next few days, and then also in the weeks for processing. i am happy to trade good vibes for others of you who need vibage for your surrogacy or any other ole thing… just let me know!!!
finally we have gathered all the stuff we need for the medical visa application packages, and we are ready to submit them tomorrow. what a lot of stuff. i wanted to share the list of what we included, because the checklist in the “Useful Information” section on the right is only for a general medical visa (could be for any medical procedure), and the medical visa for surrogacy is much more complicated. so here’s the list, NOT in order:
- the CHECKLIST – you have to sign it when you drop off the package, because they review your package with you to make sure you have everything, or they will write down what is missing (hopefully nothing)
- application form – signed with an appropriately sized picture pasted to it
- surrogacy letter for perspective parents – from the High Commission of Canada (or your country’s) in New Delhi
- surrogacy contract – signed by all parties and notarized
- letter stating we will support the child(ren) after born
- we included the notice of assessment from our 2012 tax returns to show our income
- proof you will be able to pay for the surrogacy and related expenses (bank account print out)
- letter from our doctor in Canada explaining why we need surrogacy
- letter from clinic in India explaining when we need to be in India for surrogacy and where the procedures will be performed and how long we need to be there
- information to show the clinic is an ART clinic registered by the Indian Council of Medical Research
- marriage certificate (holy crap, i thought i knew EXACTLY where our certificate was – in a file folder called “wedding” in the filing cabinet – so i didn’t worry about it. then this afternoon i looked and it wasn’t there, so we had to tear through every single paper in our house. eventually, we found an old box full of paper, and hubby said “oh, that just looks like garbage”, but i had been through everything else. sure enough, there it was, in the exact blue plastic sleeve i had in my mind’s eye…. if we hadn’t found it, it takes something like $150 and 7 business days to get a replacement… close call!!! now it’s in the “wedding” folder in the filing cabinet, where it belongs.)
so, hopefully that’s everything. i will let you all know how it goes tomorrow morning. fingers crossed, ‘kay?
***ADDED JUNE 4th*** – please ensure you include information or proof from your clinic that they are a registered ART clinic. while we just included this info in amongst the information in the letter of intent to support the babies that are the result of this surrogacy, I would recommend that you get a letter directly from your clinic, or at the very least, print the 20 page list of ART clinics (in the Useful Information section of this blog) and highlight your clinic. it will just be more clear than what i provided, and while the gentleman i spoke to at our consulate office was lovely, you might not be as lucky, so have your package as straight forward as possible.
so we went to the travel clinic this afternoon, as we were pretty sure we would need anti-malaria medication for the trip and our GP said she didn’t normally prescribe it because it’s best to be prescribed by someone who specializes in knowing what is needed for each country.
it was a good appointment, we were able to book as a couple, and they were open late. i am all for offices that are open outside of regular business hours because we are already having to take so much time off work for various appointments and for the trips themselves. the nurse practitioner who interviewed us about our trip and also the nurse who administered the shots were very knowledgeable. here is a list of things we talked about and vaccinations we received today:
- hepatitis A and B – we had Twinrix in 2011, so were all good
- tetanus – hubby was up to date here, not me though – covered by provincial medical plan
- typhoid shot for each of us
- hubby got Dukoral to take before the trip, which covers traveler’s diarrhea (e-coli and cholera); due to some pre-exisiting intestinal issues, she did not recommend this for me
- anti-malaria pills – there were two options here – one was about $1/day each, but you take it for the whole trip and then a month afterwards and it has lots of common side effects like nausea, and the second was $5/day, but you only take it for the trip and then a week, and has no side effects – we opted for the ones with no side effects, as we don’t want to be nauseated on the trip if necessary – so this will be the most costly thing at around $150 each
- a set of antibiotics each, just to carry in case (not sure how much this will cost, as we haven’t had the prescriptions filled)
- we both got a booster of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, as apparently folks born after a certain year (some year in the 50s i think) are recommended to get a booster dose because the “new” vaccine isn’t as effective as the old from before that time) – covered by provincial medical plan
- all of these things are good for varying amounts of time, between a few months to life, so i highly recommend seeing a travel clinic if you have any doubts as to whether you are up to date
- we were provided with a list of things we should think about taking with us, that may or may not be readily available there; from tylenol to anti-nausea pills to epi-pens for allergies, bandaids, etc.
- a whack of information about various diseases that are found in India, including info about mosquitoes. it is recommended that we use heavy DEET mosquito repellent while we are there, as there are Dengue fever mosquitoes during the day, and Malaria mosquitoes at night. unfortunately, there is no vaccine or cure for Dengue fever, so that’s what the repellent is for, better safe than sorry.
- because we are only going to be in the urban areas, there were things we likely didn’t need, but i can’t fill you in on those. if you are planning on rural travel, it would definitely be best to talk to a travel clinic nurse.
here is the clinic we went to and the hours and price list. there are likely all kinds of travel clinics in every city, and i would highly recommend going to one. this is the first time we have done so, even though we have done a fair bit of travelling, and it was very informative. we feel much safer now :p