My decision to explore surrogacy was twofold. When my husband and I decided to try for our first baby, I didn’t get pregnant as quickly as I thought I would. I ended up getting pregnant after trying for almost a year, but I’ll be honest, I was getting nervous that it wasn’t going to happen for us. After I got pregnant, I started thinking of all those women who struggle for years and years and how my year of trying was a drop in the bucket compared to what they go through. My heart went out to them. So, later, after the birth of our second child we knew our family was complete; however, I loved being pregnant! Surrogacy was the perfect solution. I could enjoy another pregnancy while helping someone who needed help having a baby of their own.
While my husband knew that I enjoyed pregnancy, I don’t know if he knew that I enjoyed it quite as much as I did. When I first said, “Hey, what do you think about me being a surrogate?,” he thought I was a bit nuts! However, the more I researched surrogacy and the more I talked about it he came to realize how passionate I was about helping a childless couple. So, while he might not understand why I enjoy being pregnant, he admires my passion and willingness to help others. He knew surrogacy was a dream of mine and has been very supportive in helping me make it come true.
The matching process took a little longer than I thought it would. I received several profiles. I said no to two, and two turned me down. I was feeling discouraged. Then one day the matching specialist contacted me and asked if I’d reconsider being a surrogate for a non-English speaking couple. She said the couple had been turned down by other prospective surrogates, so I already felt a bit of a connection. After reading the couple’s profile, I just couldn’t tell them no. Even on paper. they seemed like a very lovely couple. Reading about their struggle to have a child for almost two decades was heartbreaking, and I knew that I couldn’t turn them down.
Here’s the honest truth: the language barrier wasn’t much of a barrier at all. Our virtual match meeting probably took a little longer since we had to have an interpreter, but it wasn’t as bad as I worried it may be. Later, during the pregnancy, we corresponded via email and used an online translator. I would send all message in both English and in the translated Chinese but also always copied our Growing Generations case specialist on all emails. I figured if any of my messages didn’t translate quite as I intended she could help. She was always more than happy to help translate or to help me understand the cultural differences.
The only real language obstacle came in the hospital. We were told that the hospital would supply an interpreter at any time. However, since the baby was delivered at 2:00 AM, I labored through the night, and we didn’t have an interpreter. We relied on a cell phone app to communicate, but it was only good for a sentence or two at a time. But sometimes, that’s all you need. Minutes before the baby was born the father sent me a text translated to English. It read “No language can express our gratitude to you, you saved us. One more happy family in the world.”
It was maybe a little more difficult to communicate than I would have liked, but in the end, we still wound up with a healthy baby. And guess what else? I got to choose her name! At the beginning of the surrogacy the parents told me that they wanted me to give the baby her American name. The baby would get her Chinese name after birth. I thought her American name was just a nickname of sorts. I was floored when at the hospital they said they were using her American name for her legal name on her passport and birth certificate. I was beyond honored.
I would tell incoming surrogates to be open to non-English speaking parents. After all, biology doesn’t discriminate by languages when it decides who can have children and who can’t. During our second trimester conference call with the parents, I started getting teary eyed at the end of the call talking about the baby. Then the mother started getting teary eyed. Even though we don’t speak the same language, it was a moment that I felt like I knew what she was thinking. I realized that just because they speak a different language, it doesn’t mean they have any less desire to have a child of their own.
I feel overwhelmed with joy that the parents finally have their baby. During the pregnancy I kept imagining the look on their faces when their baby finally arrived, but when it actually happened it was better than I ever imagined. To see pure joy in two people who are finally getting their dream come true after nearly 20 years was priceless.
I always knew surrogacy was something I could do to help others, but looking back now, it is about so much more than simply lending a helping hand. It is about giving people hope.