Our Thanksgiving Story continues…..

Even though Michelle  and I have learned a lot about the whole surrogacy world, I feel like there still so much more to know. Some will be covered here in the blog for both educational and entertainment value. (Tastefully, although the photo below does not send much of a message of hope in that way). Other information will be for my own benefit. Not to satisfy some great quest for knowledge about this subject. Like I said before: Of all the things I could be blogging about….wow.

It’s more about putting things in order. Finding out how all the pieces fit. Gaining perspective.

A few weeks ago when I unveiled GuestWomb to the world, my Mom wasn’t too thrilled about seeing all this information available online for anyone — and in her mind, everyone — to read. She made some critical remarks about the blog, and that was OK. Writers have to be thick skinned and immune to criticism. Even….no… ESPECIALLY…from their Mother! But a week passed by and then she called me early one morning to apologize for her remarks. I told her it was fine, and assured her that I wasn’t affected by anything she said.

But then she said something kind of interesting. “I understand why you need to write this,” she said. “It’s your way of coping with this whole situation.”

I didn’t want to dispute or correct her comments. So I just went along with it and accepted her statement. Saying that was probably HER way of coping with having a son write a ‘tell-all’ blog that’s surely to be read daily — if not MORE often! — by every citizen of our hometown, Medford, Oregon!

I’ve already written a little about the ‘why’ behind writing this blog. Helping me ‘cope’ with Michelle’s decision and journey isn’t quite right. No, it’s really more of a device to help put things into context. Because the events of the last 12 months have led our family into new, uncharted territory on many levels. Like an explorer mapping out the wilderness, GuestWomb is helping me to record the events — physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Visiting the home of Barb and Michelle, the IPs, was one such foray that needed, in my mind, some mind-share and reflection. Because, for the first time, the tables were turned in an important way. We were able to get the inside glimpse of just who we were partnered with.

In any Gestational Surrogacy process, the selection of the carrier — my Michelle — is always of attention and scrutiny. Rightfully so. The IPs are investing a lot in this arrangement — and I’m not talking about money here. They have gone to extraordinary lengths to get to this stage — producing the embryos  to be implanted. They’re extended emotionally and spiritually. The woman they choose — or in many cases, a couple like us —  need to be people they can trust. In fact, trust with the lives of their soon-to-be family member. There is no such thing as being too cautious.

So our IPs made all the right moves, starting with whom they chose to help manage this process. To find the right candidate, they turned to the leading surrogacy placement agency in the United States — Melissa Brissman & Associates. We were told later that out of 200 applicants who apply, only one makes it through to the final stages. After the initial interview, Michelle and I were checked out thoroughly. From police and court records, all the way to credit checks.

(An aside: I was researching about how people are trying to hide or change what is said/pictured about them on the internet. You know, those embarrassing Facebook pictures or other misdeeds from the past. Potential employers now routine scour Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn and other social network sites to learn more about applicants. I came across the picture at right and joked to Michelle that I was going to use it to illustrate the changes in her diet and health regimen now that she’s pregnant. She was not amused and vetoed its use there. But it’s just too funny not to include it here.)

But I’m thinking if the IPs ran across a photo like that of Michelle, well….I wouldn’t be typing right now!

There was even a process where one of Brissman’s people would visit us in our home almost unannounced — for some reason our IPs waived this part of the process.

Then came the very complete medical testing for Michelle. Again, our IPs chose a top notch group — IVF of New Jersey — to handle the battery of tests and screening. Finally we went through our personal interviews and psychological profiles.

All of this is to say that Michelle and her life has been pretty well documented, examined and approved by our IPs. But what did we know about these two interesting women who have entered into our lives? Very little. And Thanksgiving was my chance to learn and observe, taking mental notes to fill in the gaps and answer a lot of the questions I’ve had.

And the biggest question for me was this:  Where and how will this little baby-to-be be living.  Not because I had any reason to worry or doubt our IPs in any way. It was simply a rare chance to be able to project ahead in this unborn child’s life and visualize her home surroundings.

And many things came to light during our holiday visit. For one, this child will be surrounded by loving caring people, well beyond his/her two Moms. From the siblings-to-be already living in the house, to the Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and others who will be a part of their lives from day one.

The home where he/she will reside couldn’t be more ideal. This child will spend countless days of a happy childhood, exploring this vast home and grounds. As noted earlier, Barb and Michelle have spent the fall moving into this grand estate and already it embodies a warm, comforting place of security and serenity.

And yet household serenity will be in short supply, thanks to this new child’s siblings. I won’t divulge much more information in the interest of privacy, but I hope this little boy or girl will have a strong mind, body… and will!… to keep up with his/her energetic siblings!

The hours went by quickly and the meal was splendid — although marred by an unfortunate minor accident by one of those energetic siblings. Barb spent half the evening with a little one in the Emergency Room getting some stitches due to a nasty fall.

When an evening ends and it’s time to go home, I often breathe a sigh of relief. ‘Whew, got that out of the way”, was my default feeling.

But not so on this night. With my curiosity sated for the time being and basking in the glow of warmth radiated by this special family, we regretfully said our ‘Good Nights and Thank You’s, and departed down the New Jersey Turnpike for home.

And in an afternoon, the picture got a lot clearer. I’ll let Michelle have the last words on our day.

“Every stop along the way off this journey, things are getting more and more real. From the first interviews, then phone calls, the initial meetings…and having Barb and Michelle to our home last summer. Our time with them at Thanksgiving added more to our relationship with them. While this will be a wonderful memory when we look back later on, that day gave me so much more to think about and to feel like I really know Barb, Michelle and their family.”

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