Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tonight's Message: Be Open to Openness

This evening Stewart and I have been invited back to discuss our surrogacy experience at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center’s monthly “Planning Biological Parenthood for Men” meeting. We attended these meetings in the months leading up to, and during, our surrogate’s pregnancy with Max, and learned an amazing amount about the surrogacy process from those who had been through it. Once Max was born, we were asked to return to the group, this time as the speakers instead of as the listeners. I blogged about that meeting here. I can’t believe that it has been almost a year since we first spoke to the group. So much has transpired!

As some of you might recall from that post, when we were asked to talk to the group last year I was very concerned about what Max was going to wear. We were introducing Max to a room full of very discerning gay men, so I wanted Max to wear a hip outfit; but, at the same time they were the wannabe dad kind of gay men, so I didn’t want Max to look too hip. In short, it was complicated! A year later, though, the only criteria I have for his outfit is that it be clean and have minimal stains. Actually, that’s not as easy as it sounds since we’re talking about a 14 month old here!

On a more serious note, Stewart and I are thrilled to have the opportunity again to discuss our experiences because we are big advocates of the method we chose to create our family: independent traditional surrogacy. Plus, our enthusiasm for this choice has grown even greater over the past year due to the amazing relationship we’ve maintained with our surrogate, Christie, and her family, as well as the other family that Christie conceived and carried a child for via traditional surrogacy (a beautiful little girl named Georgia who you can read more about here). Last year we could only tell the group about the type of relationships that we hoped to keep with these families. This year we can tell them about our actual experiences, which I think is the best evidence possible for why couples looking to start a family via surrogacy should at least seriously consider taking the independent, traditional route.

Stewart and I pursued independent traditional surrogacy (where the surrogate is both the egg donor and carrier, who you find yourself) rather than gestational surrogacy (where you find a separate egg donor and carrier through a process usually arranged via a professional agency) for several reasons. We wanted to conceive with as few people involved as possible, to make an already complicated method of creating a family as uncomplicated as possible. We also wanted to develop a natural relationship with Max’s biological mother -- as opposed to choosing her from donor stat sheets -- and really get to know her. And it was important to us that Max not only know the identity of his surro-mom, but also that he grow up knowing her as a person.

Call me a crazy pessimist, but I believe that no matter how you raised, or raise, your kids, they are going to be angry at you for something. For Max, I much prefer that anger to be about mundane things like why he isn’t allowed to ride his bicycle without a helmet than about something as deeply felt and personal as his identity. Besides, Max should know the woman who has given our family the tremendous gift of its very being. So one of the main reasons we matched with Christie is because she was on the same page as us in this important regard. But while we all agreed on open, ongoing contact, we left unanswered what that meant. I don’t think any of us were really sure. We choose instead to let our new lives -- with Max suddenly a part of them -- tell us organically what felt right.

A while back Christie wrote a moving guest post about her experience as our surrogate, and in that post she described our relationship as an extended family. That truly is the best way to describe it, and is a term that not only describes the relationship that we have with her and her family, but also the one that we have with Georgia and her parents as well. Since Max was born, we have seen Christie and her family multiple times in multiple locales, including most recently on a beach vacation to Florida that also included Georgia’s family. Seeing the kids all together, happily playing, alone made it a wonderful trip.

with half-sis Georgia

And that is what strikes me most about our relationship with Christie and her family -- not the number of times that we have seen them, but that we are part of each other’s lives in such a natural, unforced way. During our regular workaday lives apart, if anyone in our families does something fun or interesting, we don’t hesitate to email or text each other about it on the spot, and maybe snap a photo to go along with it. And when we hang out together, we are all equally happy running around town with the kids or just sitting on the couch enjoying idle chit-chat while the kids romp around. In other words: normal family stuff. Normal, but incredibly special and extraordinary at the same time.

with half-bros Drew & Dean

If tonight Stewart and I can convey even a fraction of this wonderment to our surrogacy group, we just might convince some hopeful couples to see the potential that independent traditional surrogacy has to be a truly magical way to create a family.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really wonderful, moving post. I'm sure you and your surrogate- extended-family are benefiting from some really top-notch communication skills! I work with an online relationship counseling program and I think a lot of times these kind of situations break down because people don't share things with each other, or let other people know what they need or want..."open, ongoing contact" seems to be key! Congratulations on your loving family!