Wednesday, February 1, 2012

La Saga Continua

(Note: if you make it to the end, I'm asking for some advice. Lay it on me if you can.)

2012 = BHD = the year of the baby, house, dog. That's the plan, right? We were flying ahead with lightning speed. Like, so fast I couldn't even blog. until around 5 pm last night.

Schreeeeech. Halt. Whoa, look at those skid marks.

Over the holidays, we moved to a new agency. Talked, filled out the paperwork. Not too long after that, they sent a profile our way. How about this one? Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! First try! Lovely, sweet, sincere, healthy pregnancies and births, supported by family and friends. Yes, please, can we talk?

And we did. And we liked her and she likes us. And for about 12 hours our hearts filled again with the idea of bringing a baby home with us. It was a wonderful, sleepless night.

And then in the morning, M. said, hey, weren't we also thinking about this and this? Maybe we should explore this before we go any further.... Which resulted in a whole lot of obscenities and cursing and then later, finger-hurting* angry texts from me. WTF, dude? You think of this now???? We are closer than we have ever been (and that's not very close at all) and you want to regroup the wagons and possibly steer in another direction?? W.T.F.

*Have you ever texted so hard you've bruised your fingertips? I'm not even joking.

His question was rational. My response was not. But I was so angry at not being given at least 24 hours to just. be. happy.

We resolved this by saying, ok, if you want to explore some things, go and explore them and come back with a report and a rationale. And he did. and we decided that the path we were on was the path that works best. Phew. Next step, a conversation with a lawyer from the state where our would-be baby mama resides and would be receiving her care.

This is where the oh, eerrrr, hmmmm......comes in.

Our surrogate lives in a state where parenthood is determined on a case by case, county by county, judge by judge basis. Some counties are more conservative than others. Some judges are more comfortable with the concept of surrogacy than others. While a pre-birth order is possible, its not the norm. The surrogate's name is on the birth certificate until orders are in place. Not a problem for M, since he would be genetically linked. Donor eggs....oh hey now, that's a new twist.

One scenario: we would have a great surrogacy experience, be ready to take home a living, breathing child with our surrogate's blessing, only to be forced with coming home and proceeding with a step-parent adoption of our own child.

Are you serious?

While the lawyer we spoke with pretty much does nothing but third party reproduction, adoption, LGBT and family law, was comfortable with most of the judges in the county we'd be dealing with and has many, many birth orders under her belt, there was one thing that she felt she needed to mention - a suit questioning the enforceability of a surrogacy contract that was making its way through the state's appellate courts. Her words: "A bad decision - well that would be a concern for me."

Yes. Us too.

We talked about other options - leaning on the laws of the state where our agency is based, leaning on the laws of our state, which is pretty surro-friendly.

Well, if we're thinking of relying on the laws of our land, does it make sense to add these other variables into the mix? Are we complicating things here? While we really like the agency and the match, we really, really don't like the idea of going through all of this only to have some random person tell us our child is not ours. Well, not mine at least.

Sigh. I think we need to think about finding a surrogate who lives in another state. There feels like too much risk there to feel comfortable.

So where are we now?

We are getting a second opinion from a surrogacy lawyer in our state, someone our clinic had recommended a while back to help us with any contracts we might need. We want to know -

Are we totally overreacting?
Are there just as many unknowns here?
Is this a risk we will face anywhere?

Because if so, we may just choose to forge ahead with this lovely lady. If not, I plan on asking him about his experience with coordinating a surrogacy with someone we find on the boards (because I went there last night, and you know, its not as scary as it once felt) and if we needed help finding a surrogate, is that something he'd be able to help us with? (his website says yes).

Of course, after that conversation, we need to double back with the agency, fill them in, and perhaps ask them to cast their net out again, but darn it, we really like our potential match. Will we have such luck again?

Funny how we haven't even made it to a preliminary doctors appointment with a surrogate yet we are both feeling like old pros.

So, this is what I'd like to know from you:

Are we overreacting?

Re: the bulletin boards. I've found a few women I might like to reach out to to learn a little more about them. What questions do I ask? How much do I share about us? Is it too bold if I just say, "Hi, I'm m. Here's my blog. This is our story?"

What red flags am I looking for? Besides their place of residence, of course.


Duck said...

It is hard when they(men) pee on our parade, isn't it?
I will email you to get the details(like what state?mhow unfriendly or friendly).
But my gut has one statement, if the state isn't friendly I wouldnt work with her, even if she appears to be gods gift to the surrogacy world. I can't overstate how often I have see it go wrong, relationships with so called perfect surrogates go down the toilet and they cut you off and keep your baby, especially in cases where egg donor was used. It happens, and not a "one of, rare thing". It happens with experienced surrogates, and inexperienced, educated surrogates, I know a case where the freaking relative kept the babies!
So, I don't know the details, but it scares me.
As for e blog, I would keep it to yourself, you will want and need a space that is all for ou(for when your surrogate drops of the face of the planet and won't return your phone calls in the first tri, which they all seem to do).

Okay, hope you don't think I have rained on the parade,

m said...

Duck, my eyes are peeled for your email. And I think you're right about keeping the blog to myself - the more I talked it out with a friend this morning the more I realized that once you open the door, its wide open forever, and I think I will need a space to retreat to throughout this journey.

Thanks for your two cents. It's exactly what I wanted.

niobe said...

I have lots of thoughts, but I'd need a bit more info. Like, what state are we talking about? (email me if you don't want to post it). Anyway, my bottom line is, when thinking about the legal aspects of surrogacy, there are no guarantees.

Surrogacy is an unusual enough legal concept that it's quite possible that, even in a state with "good" surrogacy laws, you might end up with a problem. That's what happened to us.

In our case, our surrogate lived in a favorable state for surrogacy and one that routinely grants PBOs. However, we got a judge who had never dealt with a surrogacy before and couldn't seem to understand that this wasn't an adoption and didn't want to grant a PBO.

Whatever. We did, eventually, get a PBO, but, for us, though treating the agreement as an adoption wasn't ideal, we were totally prepared to do it if we had to.

It sounds like you're very much opposed to the possibility of doing a second parent adoption. I understand, but I think you should keep in mind that, whatever state you pick, this might end up being the way you have to go.

As I'm sure you know, it's usually the laws of the state where the baby is born that govern. Depending on where the surrogate is located, it might be feasible for her to arrange to give birth in another state with more favorable laws.

niobe said...

On the blog thing, I sent a link to my blog with every potential surrogate when it looked like a match was a real possibility.

Here was my reasoning: My story was unusual enough that I was afraid that the surrogate would ultimately find my blog and recognize me and feel betrayed that I hadn't shared the information with her in the first place.

I know I would be hurt and suspicious if I found out the surrogate was keeping a blog about her journey and not telling me about it. I would wonder what else she was hiding from me.

If you don't want to share your blog (and I certainly understand why you might not) I would take steps to make it less likely that a surrogate would be able to locate it.

m said...

niobe, thanks so much for your input here. Emailing you some details.

I appreciate knowing that even in a "friendly" state there's no guarantee. This helps with perspective.

Interesting take on sharing the blog and why. The jury's still out on this one.

It's not so much being opposed to the adoption component - its the idea of one more step and one more way this could go wrong, even if everything else goes right. I'm all for minimizing time in courtrooms, as a rule.

Carla said...

I am so hopeful for you! I am unsure if you are overreacting or not, but can understand the concerns. Even with EVERYTHING in place for the parents to be on the birth certificate (we lived in a surrogacy friendly state), the hospital STILL wanted to read the ENTIRE contract I had and the legal documents for the parents name to be placed on the birth records. Good to hear that the new agency has worked well so far. Hope that continues!

m said...

Carla, I'm unsure too! Which is why I plan to sit with this a little before we move ahead. As many of you have pointed out - even best case scenarios do not equal sure thing. I really, really appreciate this perspective (I wish it were a little different, but it helps to know where our potential surrogate's state sits in regards to every other one). The new agency has been nothing but awesome. How are you feeling? (no need to answer here)

bibc said...

i cant even imagine
so hoping you guys can catch a break and something will go easy. you have put your time in! that said, i really hope all will work out in time. that's all ive got and as you know, it's enough most days.

Carla said...

I will e-mail a more lengthy response when I get a chance. Doing well!

Heather said...

Oh man, this is tough. I have no idea how to tell if you are overreacting.

I know the worst case scenario stories would scare the crap out of me, and I'd be looking for some kind of numbers to reassure me. I like numbers. I understand numbers. But I don't suppose there are any kind of statistics on such a thing? Like in each state what percentage of surrogacy situations are contested after the birth when donor eggs are used, and what percentage of those are ever ruled in the favor of the surrogate?

B's Mom said...

Duck's comment that surrogates "keep your baby" scared the shit out of me.

KH99 said...

How is the state issue going? I live in a, well, sort of surro-agnostic state (NC). We had no problems obtaining a PBO, but we were told that it might be an issue if we lived in a different county overseen by a different judge. I agree with Niobe to go with your gut on the state issue. If it seems like there might be issues or too many hoops to jump through, then find another surro from a friendlier state.

I'd keep your blog for you as well because you'll want to vent and you don't want to feel like you don't have a supportive place to do so.

As with Duck and Niobe (hi ladies from our surro journeys - you might remember me as "Elizabeth"), I'm happy to answer any questions, provide a sounding board, venting support, whatever.

m said...

Hi KH99, we decided to try our luck with the county by county, judge by judge hoops. The plusses of our new agency and potential carrier far outweigh the extra paperwork we might need to endure at the end. And as we thought it through, if we were ever faced with a second parent adoption, that would mean there would be a baby in our arms, and well, I think I could handle just about anything once we reach that point.

Thanks so much for reaching out. We are moving forward and we are excited. In the contract phase now, ready to start meds as soon as all is signed and final.