Christmas came early to us this year!
I am very fortunate to have the two best sisters-in-law in the world. Who else would give her brother and his husband an egg or carry their baby to term? They gave us the gift of life who we named Jasmine!
It all started last year when we decided to try to make a baby. Having both of our genetics in our baby was important to us.
We went on a trip to Scotland to visit my husband's little sister Jan and her newborn Harley. The first thing I noticed was how happy these young parents where with their baby. It reinforced our own feelings for wanting to be dads. After spending a week with them we popped the question. "How would you feel about donating an egg to us so we can create our own family in Canada?" Obviously not a simple question!
Before this trip we had debated whether to use an egg from a family member or through an egg donor. For us, having Jan donate an egg meant that our baby would be genetically related to both of us! That would be a dream come true. Also, my sister-in-law would be a special part of our baby’s life and that, too, was very important to us. Of course, we also realized that this meant our daughter’s aunt would be her biological mother, but we will address this in an age-appropriate manner. We both were as happy as a child on Christmas morning when Jan answered with a “Yes!”
Now we needed Santa Claus to find someone who would carry our baby! We did try to ask Jan but she thought it would be too difficult for her to carry knowing that she would be giving away her own baby to us after the delivery. This method is typically called a traditional surrogate and can be tougher for the birth mom to give up a baby that is part her genetics. We understood 100% and didn't push any further. We were so lucky already to get her eggs.
The next best option was to find a family member, friend or stranger to carry our baby. First we decided to search the internet and we found a few surrogates who liked our profile through surromomsonline.com. Vetting the possible person to carry our baby was probably the toughest part of our journey. How do we trust a complete stranger with the most important task in the world? Why would someone sacrifice at least nine months of their life to help you start a family? We had a million and one questions to ask before we selected the right person to take this journey with us. We went with a family in Canada that already had eight children of their own! We started with dozens of emails, adding each other to Facebook, then phone calls followed by meeting her entire family. We all clicked right away; we agreed to move forward.
The next step was long and tedious as we drafted a surrogate contract that was about 50 pages in length. This document covered every single possible situation that may occur, conditions that were fair to both parties as well as financial terms. This was not an easy process but necessary to make sure everyone was covered in any type of scenario that may occur over the next year. We didn't think we needed to do this since we all trusted each other but you will find out how important this contract can be.
Here is where things got tough. Our worst nightmare then came true. Going with a surrogate you have to be prepared for anything and everything. What happened to us is rare but unfortunately it did happen. Let this be a lesson and not a deterrent to use a surrogate. A month after we found out we were pregnant we arranged to meet our surrogate for our first ultrasound. This was supposed to be one of the happiest day of our lives but she didn't show up! We tried to call her, text and Facebook and no response. This terrified us as she was always very reliable in getting back to us quickly. You can just imagine what was going through our heads at the clinic. Was she stuck in traffic? Did she run away with our baby? We had no idea what to think but didn't want to panic. We later found out the reason and it was worse than we could have ever imagined. Our surrogate was in the hospital after two surgeries and her life was on the line. Thankfully she pulled through but unfortunately we lost what would be our twins. This devastating news almost killed us. The recovery process took months for both my husband and me.
Our prayers were answered when my husband's older sister in Arizona offered to be our savior and carry our baby for us. This was such a blessing to have a family member now be our surrogate. The long line of questions just came down to a few. The contract was optional since it was family and she was doing it for altruistic reasons. Obviously we trusted her since she was my husband's older sister and already had three children of her own.
The most challenging aspect was that she lived in Arizona. We debated whether to have the baby in Canada or the U.S. We went back and forth for months weighing the pros and cons. Did we want to deal with the surrogacy laws, hospital fees, lawyer costs, and travel issues if she delivered the baby in the U.S.? The biggest benefit is that she would have dual citizenship. At the end of the day we settled for our home city of Toronto since we were comfortable with the hospital, doctors and nurses here.
My sister-in-law flew in one month before she delivered our beautiful baby Jasmine. It was the greatest day of our lives and it wouldn't have been possible without my two sisters-in-law who sacrificed so much for us to start a family.
Christmas will forever have a very special meaning for all the French and Chan family!