About a year ago, when I turned 39, I realized I really wanted to have a child. It kinda came as a surprise cause I always thought I didn’t really want children. I suppose I didn’t really think it was possible. Mr. M and I had been together for a while and I realized that soon I would be forty and wasn’t sure having teenagers in my 70s was a good idea. It took me several months to bring it up with M and when I did he was a bit hesitant. He told me: let’s wait a year and get used to the idea. I have my own special translator that I use for M. “I will never ever do it” means: wait a month or two and “let’s wait a year” means: get started right away. So I did.
We were open to both surrogacy and adoption but soon decided to start with surrogacy. Although we have many gay friends who have adopted successfully, we have also seen the heartache that comes when a birth mother changes her mind. We also had mixed feelings about open adoptions: on one hand, it is clearly better for the children involved, on the other, we weren’t sure how we felt about having our child’s birth mother in our lives. With surrogacy, the major hesitation I had was whether it was a good idea to continue my gene pool. I gotta say, I like the idea of some fresh foreign genes in there to mix things up.
I did a lot of research into domestic surrogacy and there were a couple of issues here too. First, similar to adoption, it does make sense to make a place for the surrogate in your life, if only during the pregnancy. But this made us uncomfortable. What if the relationship goes sour? But the major issue was cost. Based on my research, at best, the cost of a domestic (gestational, traditional surrogacy seemed too risky) surrogacy might look something like this.
Surrogate Fee 25,000
Expenses during pregnancy 1,000
Birth Order 5,000
Egg Donor 10,000
This does not include about 10,000 in agency fees and I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff. We are looking at nearly $75,000 and we have only paid for one IVF and one transfer. Then, of course, if things go wrong (e.g. bed rest for surrogate, multiple IVFs) it can really add up. We thought between $90,000-$130,000 seemed about right. With a run of bad luck, we could easily imagine running out of funds.
The other thing that bothered me a bit, particularly when dealing with clinics and agencies, is I felt that some of the stats offered were misleading. A common statistic one hears is that with each transfer one has about a 30% chance of getting a positive pregnancy (not a birth, but a positive pregnancy). That seemed reasonable. But then one often hears this: Give it three transfers therefore and one has about a 90% chance of getting pregnant or 90% of people get pregnant within three tries. Naturally, that is not how probability works. One has the same 30% chance each time. When clinics report their figures to the US government, there are all sorts of ways to exclude cases to raise success rates, so one cannot make a claim about 90% of people.
I don’t think anybody here is dishonest or is trying to be manipulative. The IVF/surrogacy world is filled with caring people who really want to help clients have a child. While we spoke with lots of genuine, lovely people in the industry, I felt that once we started the desperation that would only increase with failed attempts and the desire to make the sure funds already spent were worth it, could lead to a very expensive and frustrating proposition. Once upon a time there would have been no other options for us and we would have undoubtedly moved forward domestically, but as we did more research into surrogacy in India, we realized that the decreased cost (about 30-40% of US surrogacy) could keep us in the game a lot longer. Reading other blogs, I realized staying in the game was the key to a successful result. There we others things too, which I’ll get into in next post about how we chose the clinic we are working with. We started research in April and by late May we were in India. I try to remind Mr. M that in dog years, we did wait 7 months!