I understand that the details of every surrogacy journey are varied, but the process thus far has been completely different than my first experience. Before my first journey, I had thought about doing surrogacy for years, so when Evan and I determined that three was it for us, I started looking into it more seriously.
I applied with NWSC in late December, knowing that I wouldn’t want to get pregnant until the fall. I was still nursing my baby, and I had envisioned a fall transfer to make for a summer baby so I would reduce the likelihood of having to take time off work. My initial application with NWSC was approved, but I took my time with the following steps—getting my medical records, scheduling psychological evaluations. In May I was officially approved and in June I was matched. My IFs had difficulty choosing an egg donor, so our transfer was postponed until late January. But overall, it followed the typical surrogacy timeline.
This time, I’m working somewhat backwards. I have a match, but no agency, no clinic, no contract yet. In one respect, I really enjoy the authenticity of the match—knowing that we really chose each other and that there’s some level of fate involved in bringing us together. On the other hand, I am anxious to make this “real” by officially signing with the agency and getting contracts underway.
The commitment to become a surrogate puts your entire life on hold. I’m already taking considerations with my health—adding back my prenatal and other vitamins, and being thoughtful about what I eat, drinking alcohol and caffeine, and how I exercise. I’ve turned down travel plans for the fall because I don’t know where we’ll be in the process and if I’ll be pregnant or not. I’ve already started to make plans for the following school year, both around my own teaching job and my children’s needs in expectation of being pregnant and also needing to travel to Portland periodically.
From the moment you decide to do it, surrogacy is a full-time commitment. Plus, I can’t shake this feeling that any day now they’re going to call and say they’ve decided not to be parents or that they want to postpone a couple years or that after watching me via Facebook for two months they’ve decided I’m not really the right fit after all. I’m fairly confident that’s not the case, but even so I’m still anxious to make it official.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying getting to know J & A better and educating myself on our unique circumstance. One of my reasons for doing surrogacy, aside from loving being pregnant and from helping to create a family, is expanding my family’s horizons.
When given the opportunity to work with an international couple on our first journey, our main reason for saying yes was to introduce our family to a new culture. For that year, we immersed ourselves in Israeli culture. We tracked Jewish holidays, reading about them and the selections from the Bible that corresponded. I followed Israeli politics, including the elections my IF was a part of. They are both members of the Likud, a political party that aligns with the opposite of my US political affiliation. Reading up on their perspective forced me to look at things from a different angle—a challenge I welcome. Even though our journey with them is over, our interest in the culture has continued, including my visiting in March and us planning a family trip there in a few years.
Although I was ready to work with J & A before knowing, J’s HIV+ status is actually something of a selling point for me. I look at it as an opportunity to learn and to educate. In researching the SPAR program, I find myself researching more and more about the disease in general. Although I was aware that there have been great advances in the past two decades, the majority of my understanding comes from my eighth grade health class, where I distinctly remember Ms. Spence teaching about it, a huge part of the curriculum—at least what I paid attention to—having something to do with Magic Johnson being positive and numerous references to the number of women he slept with.
But that was twenty-five years ago and, although I’ve seen news articles and clips periodically since then, I haven’t paid too much attention. I look at this as an opportunity for myself and my children to become more educated and understanding, and to perhaps be able to educate others and minimize the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS. I’ve been reading articles and blogs and searching for opportunities to fundraise and educate.
When Janae asked me to blog for ATS, I jumped at the chance, and am thankful that J agreed, knowing that this is a deeply personal issue to have someone else write about. There continues to be misconception and stigma around HIV/AIDS, and I appreciate his willingness to be open about his status and take a chance on my sharing this experience with the world.
So while I sit here and wait (and wait and wait and wait) for the good stuff to start happening, I’ll do my best to stay occupied with learning and educating through writing and with preparing my body for one last pregnancy.