Paul and I had been trying to become parents for over 20 years. I have Asherman syndrome – it is a disease in which adhesions appear in the uterus. Because of this, I had two miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy. It is useless to do IVF in such case. At some point it became clear that I would not be able to carry the child by myself. Then me with Paul tried to adopt a child in Russia. We passed examinations, collected a million documents and confirmed that we are a good potential family. But then some difficulties had begun. The agency we were working with, said that laws are changing in the country, and now it is hard for foreigners to adopt a child. So it was our fourth time of not becoming parents. That is why, without exaggeration, surrogate motherhood was our last chance. Also, we needed donor eggs. I was already 43 years old, and my eggs were not suitable for IVF.
Interview with the agency
We immediately decided that we would turn to Ukraine. The distant relatives of Paul live there, so we are remotely familiar with the country. Our lawyer confirmed that everything is legal in Ukraine, and there is a lot of positive surrogacy experience.
We chose the agency VittoriaVita pretty quickly. We liked that there is a lot of information on the site, and the price lists are in the public domain. We left a request, and manager Natalia called us. We talked with her for an hour and a half and asked about everything. Is the clinic licensed? – Yes. Can we do PGD and choose the sex of the child? – Yes. Do you give any guarantees? – Yes, in the program “Guarantee” you will definitely become parents. Can a surrogate mother take the child away? – No, it is against the law. Natalia sent a small catalog with three surrogate mothers profiles. We especially liked one of them: with curly red hair, freckles, and also she had a very beautiful smile. Her two children are curly too. In general, we were fascinated by her. Natalia arranged a conversation for us in Skype. We asked this woman why she wants to become a surrogate mother. She answered: “I want to help you become parents, but first of all I do it for my children. I want to buy us a more spacious apartment. ” It was nice that she answered honestly.
The next issue we and Natalia had decided is an egg donor. From the catalog offered to us we picked a woman who had similar facial features, body shape and hair color.
After a month and a half, we flew to Ukraine for an appointment at the clinic. We got picked up at the airport and all two days, wherever we needed, the driver drove us: to see a doctor, for sperm collection, blood tests, to a lawyer … In general, the driver made life easier for us. It’s a good thing that agency prepared all that. We signed an agreement with the agency, met our red-haired surrogate mother, and Paul donate his sperm. After 2 days we flew away, and things were just getting started in Ukraine. The doctors managed to create 15 embryos, but the PGD test showed that only three were healthy. Only one had attached. It was a boy.
How we experienced pregnancy at a distance of 2000 km
As long as you do not encounter surrogate motherhood, you do not fully understand how strange and beautiful it is. Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night and thought: my child is growing up right now in another country in a belly of another woman. This is some kind of surrealism!
I had delved into a stack of textbooks on obstetrics and gynecology to understand how the child develops. So, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought: so, now it is 12 weeks, I mean the child has grown to 6 cm, and his nails are starting to appear. Once in a Skype conversation, a surrogate mom said that she always wants shrimp. I was delighted and told my husband that the child was not yet born, but already looked like him. We live by the sea, and more than anything, my husband loves shrimp. On the 20th week we gave the surrogate mother a fetal Doppler monitor. Through Skype, we talked with the baby, and the surrogate mother listened to his heart. It seemed to us that in this way we communicate with our son. When the child was 28 weeks old, I recorded several fairy tales on the tape recorder. The surrogate mom played this recording so that the son got used to my voice. My husband sang a few songs with a guitar. I hope the kid was glad to hear the classic rock ballads performed by his dad. Another modern miracle is 3D ultrasound. In general, we often received the results of examinations of a surrogate mother, but 3D ultrasound is something amazing! It seems that you are looking through the belly and see the child in real time. When it was time for the childbirth, Paul and I felt that we were already familiar with the child and became friends.
The birth of a son
During contractions, Paul and I were with a surrogate mother. We were trying to support her somehow. We massaged her back, and held her hand. But she said it distracts her and it hurts even worse. Therefore, we just gave her water, and during the contractions breathed with her. My husband also tried, especially when the nurse said: “Breathe deeply and relax the uterus” 🙂
Only I was allowed to get into the delivery room. Doctors said that Paul would be superfluous: firstly, there are a lot of people in the room, and secondly, men can’t stand to watch something like this. Paul was allowed to enter the room after the appearance of his son. Perhaps, this is my only complaint to the agency VittoriaVita. Fathers should be allowed to be present on the birth of a child.
Documents preparation – 5 weeks
Most of all we were worried about the documents for the child. In the hospital we were given a birth certificate, where we were registered as a mom and dad. But genetically this is a child of Paul, so he and the surrogate mother went to the embassy to get a travel document for his son. Paul brought the results of the DNA test, and the surrogate mother confirmed that she had no relationship to the child. They also answered a lot of formal questions like: “Was it all voluntary?”. As a result, we received the documents after 5 weeks. It seems that it is a long time. But my husband and I went only to the notary and twice to the embassy. The driver drove us back and forth, so there were no difficulties. The rest of the documents involved Oleg, a lawyer of VittoriaVita, and Natalia, our manager.
We are at home and my attitude to the “donor” child
It took some time in different state centers to be registered as a mother in our country. Paul gave the results of the DNA test so I was registered as a mother, since I am Paul’s wife. Friends asked if I had a feeling of jealousy because the child is not genetically mine. There is nothing like that. This child is completely ours, I am his mother, I love him – end of story. In VittoriaVita, we had a family photo session, when our son was three weeks old. It seems to me that in those photos we have similar facial features.
Conclusions: pros and cons of surrogate motherhood in VittoriaVita
We have never regretted about the surrogacy program. We had a positive surrogacy experience. In VittoriaVita everything is organized so that you feel involved in the pregnancy. They constantly send test results of ultrasound. You can always talk with a surrogate mother. During the time we were in Ukraine after birth, we felt almost at home. We tried Ukrainian borscht, dumplings, donuts, pancakes. Natalia really helped to adapt: she told me what to see in Kiev, where we can find good restaurants. She advised us where we can buy souvenirs; we bought warm socks from Zakarpattia, amber beads, herbal teas. I think she did more than she should have done under the contract.
I was asked to indicate in the comment the weakest and strongest side of VittoriaVita.
Bad side is that fathers who want to be present during the childbirth should be there.
On the bright side is a decent approach to everything. They fulfill the contract, treat you like a human being, support and help. Thank you!