7/18/2011 8:44 AM
By Alissa Butterfass
For Part 1 of Alissa’s story, click here.
Hubby and I agreed that we’d look into surrogacy first (hey, we figured we had made one cute kid, why not try for another?), and if that wasn’t an option, then adoption. But we didn’t know where to even start our research. I was skeptical to look online as I had no idea what information would be valid, accurate and helpful. We didn’t know how to take the first step. We were saddened that pregnancy wasn’t an option and overwhelmed at the thought of trying to figure out what to do next on our own.
As luck would have it, not a week after receiving Dr. G's advice to forgo pregnancy, my aunt mentioned to my mother she had been to a baby naming of twin girls born through gestational surrogacy. Knowing that Hubby and I wanted to learn more about it, we were put into contact with the new mom. She openly shared her experience, and gave me the name of the lawyer who helped her find her carrier and managed all legal and financial aspects of the relationship.
Hubby and I met with the surrogacy lawyer, who explained the gestational surrogacy process and who also recommended a fertility doctor. Between the lawyer and the doctor we were educated about gestational surrogacy—everything from how to find a carrier, how the matching process works, what medications she and I would each need to take, the medical and psychological testing she and I and our spouses would undergo, and more. Ever the good student, I took fastidious notes, made to-do lists and, along with Hubby, jumped in. We wrote our profile that detailed what we were looking for in a carrier, why we were using gestational surrogacy, what our lives were like. With one questionnaire we were trying to summarize why we would be good parents and why a carrier would want to work with us.
Once we submitted the profile to the lawyer, the parent coordinator would review carrier profiles and send us those that matched. The policy was to send one profile at a time. We had up to one week to decide if we wanted to speak to that woman, or else we returned it and she went back into the pool of candidates for other intended parents.
I so wished we could see several at a time, to compare. We had no idea what was out there. What if we got a good carrier the first time but had no idea she was good in comparison to others? If we said no, some other intended parent could grab her profile and move ahead and we’d be out of luck. What if we thought a profile was the best we could do when there were other carrier candidates who would be a better fit? It was frustrating and stressful. We felt a total lack of control. We were searching for the woman who would carry our child and we were basing that decision on a brief survey of questions.
Eventually we matched up with D. She seemed articulate during calls, she shared views about important surrogacy issues, and in general she seemed like a good fit. We met in person for the first time when we flew D. and her husband up to New Jersey for a day of medical and psychological screening. Physically D. and her husband were large and imposing (both over 6 feet tall) but in personality they were both sweet and almost childlike. Despite the fact that D. was several years older than I was, there would be many times over the following years that I actually felt like I was mothering her. Often, the relationship was easy to handle as D. was eager to please and sincerely wanted to do a great job as a surrogate.
But there were many challenges—after all, Hubby and I were trusting a stranger to carry our child. Small things, like her not returning phone calls for days, or not knowing that she couldn’t eat sushi while pregnant. Big things, like D. changing jobs (without telling us or the lawyer), thereby losing her health insurance. Or D. getting lost on the way to a test that needed to be taken on a specific date and her telling me she refused to try driving there again that day (um, not an option!).
But no matter the ups and downs that we shared over the course of the nearly two years we spent together, the moments of frustration, trepidation, confusion, tears, as well as the laughter, the joy and the wonder at one women’s willingness to give us this gift—it was so worthwhile in the end. My son S. was born in January 2009 and he is amazing in every way.
Alissa Butterfass was born with Transposition of the Great Vessel, which was corrected with a Mustard procedure at age 2. In addition to being a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, wanna-be author and chocolaholic, she works part time as a senior marketing manager at a Fortune 500 company and volunteers as the Co-President of her local chapter of a nonprofit organization.