So with law school finished, I am now focusing my energies on the following two projects: 1) passing the bar, and 2) having a baby. The first is tortuously painful as I attend bar prep class in the morning, squeeze in some hours at the office in the afternoon, and then return home to study up until a half hour before my new bedtime-- a strict 10:30 which is about the latest I can muster with expectations of being awake and sharp enough to tackle the legalities of stock transfers at 5:00 a.m. the next morning. The second, however, is far more exciting (if not equally nerve-wracking), and having planned it concurrently with project #1, will hopefully diminish its stress factor-- because really, what could be MORE stressful than trying to have a baby 7,466 miles away.
With respect to project #2, our first task is to submit our testing to SCI. Anyone who’s been there knows about it and anyone who is about to go there should be forewarned-- if you are seeking treatment via an alternative reproduction method, particularly involving third party donation, you will be required to undergo more blood tests than a Bunny Ranch resident. Every six months. Regardless of the fact that, likely, the only extra-marital baby making activities you’ve been involved in since your last test include a paper gown and an ultrasound wand. Additionally, if you are male, you will be required to have your swimmers undergo what I like to refer to as the “Deep Water” test-- as in, can they swim on their own, and if not, how much assistance will be needed. If you are self-cycling as a female, you will also be required to undergo a host of tests regarding the adequacy of your eggs and your carton (since we are using an egg donor and gestational carrier I am exempt from testing this time around (who-hoo), however, if anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me as I have been there, done that, multiple times).
Testing was our first experience revealing our India plans to others outside of our ridiculously awesome and supportive circle of family and friends. Sadly, it did not go well. The Deep Water test requires testing at a fertility clinic. Due to the extent of my infertility problems, we are “former” patients of more than one local clinic. Accordingly, we really didn’t have much choice but to return to a former clinic-- so we simply chose the one in closest proximity to our house. Let’s just say I wish I had selected door #1 rather than door #2. After our clinic requested additional documentation (which the SCI team provided uber-promptly as usual- they really are awesome) the clinic here agreed to perform the testing. However, when I called for the results, I received an extremely hurtful tirade regarding our decision to seek treatment in India.
Lab Technician: “Well, I should warn you that I read this article, and apparently, there was a couple from Germany who had a baby that way and they weren't allowed to take their baby home! I mentioned to XXX (another lab technician) what you were doing and she couldn't believe it; she told me how horrific the conditions are for your surrogate-- how they all live cramped in a dorm. I really felt I should tell you-”
Me: After checking my phone to be sure that I was speaking with a technician AT A FERTILITY CLINIC-- as in, a place designed to SUPPORT couples in their quest to have a family, I cut her off by asking her to forward the results and hung up. After a brief bout of tears, I proceeded to rehash all of the responses I would have loved to fire back at this incredibly insensitive lab technician. Among them:
I live in America-- I don’t normally concern myself with the applicability of German law to my activities. Do you?
If I told you I was pursuing surrogacy in the United States, would you have mentioned reading In re Baby M, 537 A.2d 1227, 109 N.J. 396 (1988) (a case where a surrogate fought a lengthy battle for parental rights to a child born via surrogacy and was ultimately granted visitation rights)? Moreover, would you have mentioned all of the heartbreaking tales of couples scammed by loathsome women-- in-the-U-n-i-t-e-d-S-t-a-t-e-s (gasp)-- who pretend to be pregnant and then disappear, leaving the intended parents with no baby AND no money?
Have you been to India and met the surrogates at my clinic, or are you making assumptions based on a popular media article regarding a completely different clinic? Of course I know that in your narrow mind, all Indian clinics are identical, just because they happen to be in the same country.
In retrospect, I am glad I exercised restraint and failed to engage in petty conversation with such an ignorant individual. While this certainly will be the last blogpost I waste on small-minded persons, it surely will not be my last encounter with them. I realize that surrogacy in India is not for everyone. It is not for those who are able to carry a child on their own. It is not for those who are fortunate enough to have an altruistic surrogate in their lives. And it is not for those who can foot the $130+ price tag in the United States. But it is for us, just as it is for many others who don't fit into any of the above categories. As a result, we welcome support, we appreciate concern, and we will heed the advice of any knowledgeable individuals who know what the heck they are talking about. But what we will not tolerate is an ignorant individual-- who professes to be in the business of assisting couples have families-- diminishing the way we have chosen to build ours. As the old adage goes, if you don't have anything nice to say....don't say anything at all!!!