Once officially accepted into the Surrogacy India program, we were provided access to a password protected website with, among other things, a list of available surrogate profiles - sixteen to be exact! Profiles include the following personal information:
- A variety of pictures of the surrogate and her family
- Age, height, weight, eye color, hair color, diet, religion
- Number of children, their ages and the pregnancy history for each child (any complications, natural delivery vs. cesarean...)
- Menstruation and fertility details
- Alcohol and drug (legal and non) history
- Medical history
- Surrogacy history (if any)
- Personal comments about interests and motivations
We were being asked to make a momentous decision using very little information about women with whom we have nothing in common. As you can imagine, the more we thought about it, the more we struggled with the process and the more obsessed we became. It seems as if we talked about it constantly over a four day span. In one breath Geoff was talking about how great dinner was and in the next breath he would blurt out, "I think X would be a good carrier because she has what looks like good childbearing hips!" For each profile we reviewed, we found ourselves trying to imagine why the woman answered the way she did and the meaning behind it. Then, we'd weigh the info we had - Is it better for her to have had two children or three? Does it matter whether or not she's married? Does weight and her diet matter? Is it a big deal if she does or does not tell her children? Does religion make a difference? Also, I know it sounds terrible, but I'd be lying if I said we didn't take looks into consideration. It's natural to subconsciously equate "pretty" with "healthy" and we were guilty as charged. If she looks pretty you think, well, she must take care of herself - and if she's taking care of herself then she'll take good care of our baby, right?
Out of our top two choices one was scooped up by another couple, taking the burden off us to make a further decision. R is our girl - yay!!! We are very happy with how it worked out and we can't wait to meet her in person in January! Not all agencies allow for the IPs to meet their surrogates, but Surrogacy India does. In fact, not only will we have a fact-to-face with her, but the doctors will easily arrange for us all to Skype when R is at the clinic for check-ups throughout the pregnancy. For everyone's privacy, we will not be contacting her directly nor will she be contacting us directly.
I can't imagine what it will be like to meet her and I get butterflies when I think about it! What does one say? Are there words with enough meaning to properly express our gratitude? I'm not so sure, but we will try. Like many, we will of course bring her a gift or two but it seems a bit shallow - "Thank you for carrying our baby. Here's some body cream and a bathrobe." Hhhmm, must think a bit further about that, but the good news is, we have until January to figure it out. ; )
[By the way, Geoff and I use the terms "surrogate" and "carrier" interchangeably in our blog. To be clear, we will be working with a gestational carrier to carry our biological child for us.]