Or, in other words, our 5 most “You have got to be kidding me moments”.
1. The realization that Paul and I would actually have to pay to adopt our baby (& have to pay for a home study).
I must admit, when I truly learned that this was a reality, I felt like kicking every lawyer and every politician. Here’s why. “Adopting embryos” is the common phrase used, even though by legal standards, it’s merely a transfer of property because embryos aren’t afforded any ‘rights’…meaning they’re not recognized as people. This is how getting embryos to use can be a relatively cheap process. If you are lucky enough (and we were by some awesome chance) to make a private match then ‘adopting embryos’ is nothing more than a transfer of property. Yet when there is finally a baby born from those adopted embryos via a surrogate, the fact that you legally owned those embryos is null and void. If a woman is able to carry an adopted embryo to term on her own and give birth to that baby, then she becomes the birth mom and no one has to know the baby isn’t biologically hers. However, because we needed to use a surrogate AND the baby isn’t biologically ours, we have to pay to adopt it. On my sane days, I get it…without adoption laws, there’d be a whole lot of crazy, shadiness happening I’m sure. But on days where I tap into my ‘this infertility crap is for the birds” mood, that sucker punch of having to pay to adopt what is technically legally ours already, seems like a giant ball of the government saying “Eff you”. Like we haven’t been through the ringer already.
2. Paying a lawyer $400 just to verify that my sister’s insurance would cover her if she got pregnant with our baby.
One of the biggest conversations that happens when using a surrogate is the one on the topic of insurance. Who covers what? Originally, my sister and I were convinced that if she just got pregnant and filed with her insurance company then all would be well…..until my husband and I went to adopt the baby and everything unravelled (why weren’t Britt and Matt insuring the baby on their plan? Filing for taxes? Insurance fraud?) This was actually the first part of the contract writing process…and for a measly $400 we could have the lawyer’s office verify her insurance to see if we even could move forward with the contract. Here’s the kicker..Britt and I got the entire packet of her insurance policy and read the whole thing and figured it out on our own; but, because those of us who go through infertility (and use adopted embryos or a surrogate) are so fearful of losing a baby when we finally get one, we follow all the laws/rules exactly. There’s something that just irks me about people capitalizing on other people’s fears for a business. Or to put it like some of my residents’ would, that whole thing really chaps my ass.
3. All the conversations about death.
So many conversations have occurred about what happens if Paul dies, what happens if I die, what happens if we both die? Where does the baby go? What happens if Matt dies or Britt dies? What happens if the baby dies? But not just those types of questions…questions about the baby’s health, the surrogate’s heath, termination and ugghhh. Just stop. The four main players in this surrogacy scenario (Paul & I and Britt & Matt) have very much agreed to take it one day at a time. To only make decisions and cross bridges as situations arise, because otherwise we would drive ourselves crazy trying to answer all the What if questions. Having to legally answer so many questions about death in the contract writing was no fun.
4. Being required by law to have a surrogacy contract written, yet no one ever asking to see it.
This one still kills me. Legally most clinics won’t do an embryo transfer to a surrogate without a surrogate contract in place. For us, this was especially necessary since we have no biological ties to the embryo. Meaning, we would need to have the contract in place from the very beginning to help ‘prove’ our adoption case. The kicker??? After shelling out $1,800 (because we were given a $200 compassionate fee-insert eye roll), no one asked to see it!! My actual doctor just wanted to know we had one (and trusted our word that we did) and the clinic where the procedure took place just wanted a copy of the notarized last page of the contract. After all that money, I wanted to drop all 30+ pages of it on every person’s desk and watch them read every word.
5. The fact that Britt would actually have more rights to the baby than us because we are not biologically related to the baby.
When the lawyer made me aware of this during our contract writing, I wish I could say I was surprised. It was one more fact of this whole process that deserves one big eye roll. It’s common knowledge these days that the birth mom tends to have the most rights…however; birth mom is often synonymous with biological mom. In this case, Britt’s not the biological mom…but neither am I. Which means, even though the embryos are legally in our possession and Brittany is proclaiming that she’s just being the surrogate (or gestational carrier), technically I’m bumped down to third in importance on the legal system, behind birth mom AND biological mom. Hence, the importance of that contract that no one cares to read.
In case you’re wondering, Paul and I do have titles in all of this. We’re known as intentional parents and let me tell you, with every avenue we have pursued, with every hurdle we have jumped, I’m sure there is no better suited term for us. We have taken the most intentional path to become parents, because no one gets to this point unintentionally.