Monday, April 22, 2013

My thoughts

A couple weeks ago CBS  did a "piece" on surrogacy in India. Since it aired it has been a topic of discussion.


 I am very proud of my clinic, and of my doctor. I think she presented herself and the clinic elegantly. However, I do feel the journalist failed to elucidate some positive aspects. 

The images of the woman sitting in a room with her children were from the accommodations provided by SCI.  At SCI, the surrogates families may live with them in private rooms. My family gives me strength and joy, so I assume that the women in India probably feel the same way. And I think the surrogates would be happier having their family and specifically their children with them.

The barracks-style accommodations provided by an unnamed clinic are certainly not those of SCI. I felt the video gave the impression that it was. 

SCI takes exceptional care of the surrogates, offering counseling, housing, and educational opportunities for them.  Legal counseling is provided, and contracts are written in both Hindi and English. Surrogates fully understand the contracts, which are written to  protect all  parties involved.

The passing of Permilla at a clinic in Ahmedabad was a tragedy that struck this entire community.  I feel for her family and it is a reminder that their are risk involved with pregnancy.  The maternal risk for death is 0.00009; although this may seem small, it doesn't matter when you are standing at the other end of the equation.  My heart goes out to her children -  it is very sad. It is important that insurance and mechanisms to protect the surrogates family are put in place.  The American couple did provide some support, but it was voluntary. What if they didn't?

Again not illustrated, SCI is a clinic that offers health care and life insurance for the surrogates.

It is responsible and important

And to the title question:  "Is this exploitation?"

Wikipedia defines economic exploitation as  "the act of using another persons labour without offering them an adequate compensation "

Adjusting for index differences (economic buying power) between the U.S and India, the surrogate mothers are compensated an average equivalent of $48,000 - $60,000 (USD).

Surrogate mothers in the U.S. are seldom labeled as being exploited and they can determine their rates, or they can choose to work with an agency. Their payments range on average between $15,000 and $65,000.

Regardless of location,  these women who choose to be surrogates are brave - they are protecting babies for nine months. They should be celebrated and not victimized. Personally,  I think they are as brave as police officers or fire fighters who also protect (and coincidentally receive a paycheck for doing so).

I love our surrogate mother. She is more than capable of understanding the contract, she is strong, and again she is very brave - quite the opposite of a victim.

 CBS did not touch this base but oftentimes (and I do mean often) in these arguments, the proponents of surrogacy will offer facts relating to positive outcomes. The critics, however, cite fictitious scenarios and often quote fictional books such as The Handmaid's Tale or Origins of Love.

Can we as society oppose artificial intelligence because we saw the Terminator and it ended badly?

I feel it is unfair to judge. If you are not an infertile couple, you can not possibly understand the shoes we walk in. And if you have money to send your children to school and make sure they have 3 squares a day, you can not understand the surrogate mothers' situations either. Surrogacy in India offers a solution to parties who have real and serious problems.

Oprah - in her Oprah enthusiasm - declared surrogacy in India as women helping women.

But surrogacy in India has helped many same gendered couples and singles have beautiful families as well. I like to think of it more as women protecting babies until their parents can...

Everyone  is entitled to their opinion.  This is just mine, and thanks for allowing me to share it with you.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Our little one is measuring a bit large, with his/her noggin coming in at the 97th percentile.

Most of the time large HC measurements are nothing to worry about, and are simply genetics.

Fortunately, our surrogate mother's recent test results revealed she does not have gestational diabetes, which can also be a reason for larger babies.

 "So obviously, Watson, a big baby must equal boy!"
I am assuming more baby boys are in the 97th percentile and more baby girls are in the 3rd percentile. According to studies by the National Center for Biotechnology,  males do tend to be larger but only by an average of 3.5 ounces at birth. So although this may be true, the baby's current size doesn't offer clear evidence one way or the other. And definitely not enough evidence for 221 Baker Street.

Team yellow prevails and we wait another 11 weeks to find out.

Last week we were fortunate to get the chance to meet another IP couple for coffee, and the best thing about this journey has got to be holding your baby at the end.

But the second best thing is the people you meet.
Now with much thanks to my very generous father who commutes from the US to China for work (building a healthy reserve of airline miles along the way), our tickets to New Delhi are booked.  We wrestled with what dates would be best. On one hand, you don't want to go too early and on the other hand, you don't want to miss the birth. We decided to be Delhi-bound at 38 weeks.  Hoping to hang out  before baby makes his or her debut. 

Having the tickets are one big check for Operation Exit and a giant leap for the reality that this is  happening.

This beautiful and incredible dream is really coming true.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013


The company that handles outsourcing for visa applications in the US is called Travisa. They were super friendly, but didn't have a lot of insight into what documentation was needed for an ART Medical visa. The Travisa employee informed me that medical visas in general are very rare , and in the two years he had worked there he personally  never processed one. He suggested I should just supply as much "back-up information" as possible.

I asked what kind?

He said "Whatever you have".

Not entirely helpful.  So I took my problem to a trusted friend who never lets me down in regards to supplying information, and sometimes more than I need.

So Google, whatcha got?

Lots of websites and sources all citing conflicting information

Oh Google......

So I provided "all" that I had as suggested by Travisa.

My  back up documentation:

1. The E-stamp notarized document with our surrogate mother
2. A letter from my local doctor recommending that I pursue surrogacy
3. An invitation for medical treatment by Surrogacy Centre India that shows we have a current pregnancy (This was sent before the ICMR letter was available)
4, A copy of our marriage certificate (9 years)
5. A copy of my driver's license that shows proof of current address
6. A photo copy of my Indian Tourist Visa
7. The embassy letter found here  that states  the United States recognizes surrogacy, and that biologically related children of parents commissioning surrogacy will be granted citizenship

And boy did  I FREAK OUT when we were initially DENIED

So Round 2

Travisa became super helpful, and we were assigned an expediter who gave us his personal extension a bypass to the "next available caller" montage. Now as a Travisa super fan,  we carried on.

The plan: resubmit with additional information requested by the consulate

Such as:

1. The ICMR letter supplied by the clinic (Now available)
2. Redo application because currently the Indian consulate in the US cannot issue ART Medical visas. Although it exists on their website as a drop down option, we have been informed  at this time it doesn't officially exist (must be coming soon)  and applying for a "standard" Medical visa would  allow us to comply with the new regulations
3. Letter explaining details of my previous trip to India and documentation for cryoshipping, as well as a letter explaining why J has not been to India previously
4. Letter explaining why we are committed to June or July for delivery
5. Letter summarizing our documentation
6. My old passport  - since it was to expire this summer, we applied for a new one but the consulate wanted to see the old one as well .

This time they didn't flat out deny our application, and simply requested more information
Round 3

They asked  us to supply a letter stating that we would raise the child.

Just in case we weren't serious

But now we have them...

A little nitty gritty if your interested: Original submission to 1st denial (4 weeks) resubmission to approved (3 weeks). We applied for a 12 month triple entry visa and received a 6 month double entry. Your visa goes into effect the day it is approved - not the day you enter India, not the day you are informed of its approval , the day they approve it.  Keep a copy of everything you send in and good luck with your applications!!!