For Frankie and I, this whole process actually started in July of 2012 when we first contacted several clinics in India. We asked questions ad nauseam and eventually zeroed in on the clinic that was right for us. I developed a great relationship with the facilitator of the clinic and began to trust her to help us handle this delicate process. As many of you probably know, this all turned out to be in vain as several months later India shut their doors to singles, which was essentially their way of giving the finger to gays. After seeing months of research go down the tubes we resigned ourselves to the fact that Willow would have to remain an only child for a while longer. But there’s always a silver lining; that night while figuring out whether or not I could coerce Willow into playing dress-up, I discovered that they make wigs for cats!
(I think Willow would look dashing in one of these, but Frankie vetoed the idea…)
Down but not out, we regrouped and started looking for alternatives. There was Ukraine, but they don’t allow singles or gays. On a good note, there was an agency claiming they had ways to get around the whole issue of gays not being able to legally enter into a surrogacy contract. Because that’s not at all dodgy… There was also Mexico, and this was certainly appealing given that the surrogate would be a lot closer to us physically since we are in the US. But upon further investigation, we only found two agencies facilitating surrogacy there at that time, and for various reasons neither were an option as far as we were concerned. And then it happened; I heard Frankie yell from the other room, “Husband! We can go to Thailand!”
My first thought was one of disbelief. How could it be that I had done so much research into India and never once came across a website or blog concerning surrogacy in Thailand? As I mentioned previously, I have a very special connection to Thailand, and I immediately loved the idea of going through surrogacy there, but it seemed to good to be true. I wasn’t sure what exactly Frankie was smoking, but clearly he had to be in some sort of delusional state as things never work out for us that easily in reality. But, I surmised that at least we could try selling his magical elixir to raise money for surrogacy here in the US. It worked for that lady in “Weeds” right? We started looking over the website for New Life Thailand, and that quickly snowballed into us sending out emails to all of the major clinics and agencies in Thailand. Not all of the clinics responded, but the ones that did seemed to be creditable at first glance…and so it started to become real. We decided to let ourselves become cautiously optimistic and begin researching again.
Fortunately, around that same time, I received an email from my contact at the Indian clinic offering to put me in touch with one of her friends who facilitates surrogacy in other parts of the world. Because I had developed such a good relationship with her while looking into India, I felt confident in her guidance and I was incredibly grateful. I came into contact with my current facilitator in February, and the courtship began again. As it turned out, she contracts with New Life Thailand which was great given that they were already the agency we were most interested in. Even more importantly, our personalities meshed well, I got honest answers, and I began to really trust her. About 1,000 questions later, we signed the contract with New Life Thailand and we will be transferring embryos next month. It seems like we just started the process yesterday and yet we've actually been working on this for over a year.
For those of you who might be just starting out in this process, I wish I could give you a magical map that would guide you to the perfect solution for your situation, but such a thing doesn’t exist. Instead, I invite you to consider these helpful hints as you begin your journey.
You must first accept that much of this process is going to be beyond your control. If you cannot deal with that, international surrogacy is not for you.
That said, there is one thing that you can always control: your level of education. Research IVF. Research the egg donation process. Research citizenship options. Research Thai culture. Research until you can’t bear to research any more…and then grab some coffee and keep going. A good facility or facilitator worth their weight in salt will answer any questions you can throw at them, and then invite you to ask more. (If they don’t, I suggest you move on. Good questions deserve good upfront answers.) But if you don’t do your job asking the right questions, you can’t get mad later when things don’t go the way you expect them to. Because of the current climate regarding surrogacy in Thailand, I wouldn’t take as long as we did to get going…but that doesn’t mean you should rush in to anything without doing your due diligence.
And last but not least: take my advice, take the advice of others who have gone down this road, take it all in, and then throw it out and go with your gut. If your heart tells you that something isn’t right, listen to it. There is no one successful path. Was New Life the right choice for Frankie and me? Definitely. Is it the right choice for you? That’s a question only you can answer. Remember, you’re going to lose a lot of control during this process, so if you don’t trust your choices and have faith, you will go insane faster than Amanda Bynes.
P.S. I want to offer a huge congratulations to Brooklyn Couple on the birth of their twins!! I couldn't be happier for them! :-D