So when Aaron and I decided that we were ready to have kids, we consulted several doctors, particularly my cardiologist, the high risk OB center at the UW, and the lab at the UW that specializes in studying and maintaining a database on the teratogenic (Teratogen: a drug or other substance capable of interfering with the development of a fetus, causing birth defects...thanks dictionary.com!) effects of about every drug and substance out there. And from this research we realized that it really wouldn't be possible for me to carry our child. Thus, I was devastated. For over a year I couldn't be around friends who were pregnant or go to baby showers, it was just too hard. I know I lost some friends during that time, and I miss them dearly, but I just couldn't handle it, it was too sad.
When I finally emerged from that depression, we set about looking into adoption. Interestingly, this was something we had talked about before we even got married, and we had thought about adopting, even if we had our own biological kids. So once we were to a point emotionally to head down this road, we started looking into foreign adoption. And, there, we got smacked in the face again. You see, the vast majority of countries out there have the adoptive parents fill out a very detailed form, in addition to the forms adoption agencies have you fill out. And all of these forms ask for your medical history. Oops. Some are more detailed than others, asking for a list of all the medications you're taking, but they all ask for some medical information. Note to all of you out there ever thinking about adoption: having an undiagnosable neurological illness pretty much disqualifies you from most of the countries out there. I can understand their thinking, do they really want to put a child in a situation where the mother may become severely incapacitated, or even die? Will the child end up taking care of the mother? Etc. etc. etc. Thus we hit brick wall after brick wall after consulting with about 6 agencies. Now I know some of you will probably be thinking, "but did you look into this agency?" or, "Did you look at this country?" and the answer is, no we probably missed a few. But after spending the better part of a year looking and being rejected...well, you can only handle so much rejection. And let's face it, hearing all of these things really made me question whether or not I had the capability to be a parent. Maybe they were right. Maybe it would be "irresponsible" (one agency's words, not mine) to have a child. I tell ya, self doubt stinks, particularly when you are already struggling with an undiagnosed illness and wondering what exactly is going to happen to you. But Aaron and I made the choice that we can't know what will happen 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years from not. That's for God to know, not us (although I prayed long and hard for God to send me a burning bush!) Anyone could get hit by a truck and paralyzed. Anyone could develop multiple sclerosis. All we can do is go on the information we have today. And the information we have today says that I can care for a child, that we will be good parents. So then what do we do?
We spent some time looking into domestic adoption, but after praying about that and considering that we began other research and decided to take the road less travelled and certainly less talked about unless you're reading some dramatic article in the newspaper or 20/20...Gestational Surrogacy!
OK, I know alarm bells are going off for some of you, "What about this case?" or "What about that case?" Things have come a long way in the world of surrogacy. There are contracts that protect the IPs (intended parents) and the GS (gestational surrogates) and spell out just about everything. There's also the fact that through the magic of IVF the child will be biologically Aaron's and mine. That's the difference between a Gestational Surrogate (who nurtures a baby not biologically related to her in her womb)and a Traditional Surrogate (where the child is created with the surrogate's egg, and sperm either from the intended father or a sperm donor).
Thus began the journey of learning all about surrogacy and looking for a surrogate.