Thursday, November 7, 2013

Visiting our surrogate in India in 2014?

There has been a lot of conversations about meeting surrogates; having an on going relationship and what that might look like. These are all good conversations to be having, how we make sense of our story, what we tell our children.

Anyone doing surrogacy will have a lot of conflicting thoughts and emotions and to think that this stops after the birth of your child is naive. We also have experts who chime in with what's best practice, what should happen. The reality is that nothing is ever ideal. Here are my thoughts, do with them what you will.

I choose India because my name would be on the birth certificate. I choose India because egg donation is anonymous and I choose India because I didn't want an ongoing relationship with our surrogate. I didn't want my children calling someone else a variation of Mummy. I knew that there would be no ongoing relationships.

But I did want to meet our surrogate and I did want some kind of closure with her.

We didn't get to meet our surrogate before our embryo transfer.

We arrived 5 days after our birth of our children and then our children stayed in hospital for a further 7 days as John had shingles and was in quarantine.

I have told this story to many, so it is not new; our surrogate didn't want to meet us. I was sad and guilty over this, John relieved. Our surrogate had plans to return home with help, and it would be entitled of me to think that she would be waiting around for when it was convenient for us to meet her.

I did end up meeting H, briefly. Unintentionally and that causes me guilt. I was in the office, working, waiting to meet Dr. Shivani and she saw me and came to speak to me with someone from her support team. H was on her way home or about to leave and the meeting was brief.

H told me that she knew the babies weren't hers and while she knew this in her head, her heart got quite a shock when she saw these "white pasty babies coming from her body"; she was pleased that they were going to a family that loved them and that she didn't want to meet us because she " needed time for heart to catch up with her head".

I felt bad/guilty that I had imposed myself on H. I was able to talk to some of the surrogate support people and found out that the " white pasty baby' comment had come from group discussions in which the surrogate talked about how this pregnancy was different from their own and talked about what else would be different.

I can only speak for myself, but a lot of my thinking about our surrogate comes from me thinking about my future conversations with Max & Lily; my own internal dialogue about having used a surrogate and a wish to have some kind of closure.

I want to respect H own self determination and decisions; respect the relationships that she has with her family and community.  I know that she trusts Saurabh and his team and she barely knows us. I can't presume that we have some kind of privileged relationship because she carried our children - we don't.  Then you add the complex cultural, social, societal and family norms , most of which as a Westerner i am probably oblivious to and it just gets more complex. It just tough when her decisions are not what I want for me or my children.

Next year, we will be travelling to India for work. I will ask Saurabh if H would like to meet us. I will cover her and her family's costs to come to us in Delhi and make myself, Max & Lily available to her during our stay. John remains ambivalent about whether to meet her or not.

Whether H chooses to meet us will be up to H and I have to respect that.


  1. Amazing post Margarida. We also chose India over the US so we didn't have to have an ongoing relationship with our surro just isn't practical thousands of miles away....we had an amazing meeting with them Dr S and our babies about a week post Sophie, Lilly and Jacks birth. it was very emotional with lots of hugs and tears.....I will treasure that forever and have photos of that meeting.......I could see how difficult it was for one of our surrogate mums so I fully expect that in a few years time when we return to India with our kids that although we might like to meet up with L and K they may not wish to meet....that is ok that is their decision....the last thing that we want to do is make these wonderful women who gave us such a gift, uncomfortable or awkward....

  2. Excellent post and it gives me a lot to think about. I would love to meet our surrogate when our time comes next year, just so she can look into my face and see how much what she has done means to me, and i want to personally thank her, but if she decides against it to protect hers emotional health then i will be sad but understand it. Xx

  3. Beautiful post Margarida - I hope that you get to meet H next year if it is what she wants. I most appreciate how you leave it up to the surrogate to decide if she would like to meet you all. Others seem to be only concerned about their own feelings in the equation. However, the wishes of the surrogates and their family must be acknowledged and respected.

    We were lucky to meet our surrogate twice - once before Molly was born and once after. We count ourselves very lucky to have had this opportunity. We have a beautiful picture with ourselves and our surrogate - one that is greatly cherished.

    I would like to think that if Molly wanted to meet our surrogate as she grew up that I would try to facilitate this. However, both Molly and myself would need to be aware of how the surrogate felt about this and respect her opinion at the end of the day. Intended Parents cannot and must not expect surrogates to drop everything to meet them if and when the IP's decided they want to meet them. As far as I am concerned there is a onus on all of us to make sure that surrogates are protected and respected. Otherwise if the notion of pushy Westerners wanting to come back into surrogates lives when it suits them may actually turn off surrogates and their families from getting involved. I just feel it is sad that some people feel there surrogate is not entitled to decide whether or not they wish to meet or keep in touch with their IP's. Hopefully all can respect the wishes of all those involved.
    Best wishes xx