Friday, October 29, 2010

The Best of Times

It is quiet right now.  It is a little after 10pm and everyone is sleeping but me.  The television is on mute and all I can hear is the hum of the fridge.

I hate it.

You would think I would relish the calm, but I like the opposite.  All the activity and the noise - kids, dogs - it makes me feel so alive.  Hard to explain.  I've never minded being alone but boy do I love having a family.  A family - WOW - never thought that could be mine, but it is.  Amazing.

The boys are 7 weeks old today and they are growing so fast it is remarkable.  We haven't weighed them recently but they have outgrown all the newborn clothes and are too big for Stage 1-2 Pampers!  Jag is well over 10 lbs and Ajay is catching up quickly.  They eat 5-6 oz (around 175ml) at every feeding!!  They are sleeping pretty well - consistently feeding at around 1:30am and then making it through to early morning.  We are really lucky.






That's five mouths to feed...before Steve and I even get a morsel for ourselves! I wouldn't have it any other way...

Never before has it been so attainable for a same sex couple to have the opportunity to have what so many take for love, teach and share this beautiful life with.  In so many ways, we are living in the best of times.  Growing up gay is difficult.  If you are raised with any semblance of faith in God, you are concerned at some point that you are a mistake or sick or not worthy of heaven.  I was well into my twenties before I ever felt completely comfortable in my own skin. There is so much in the news media right now about gay teens and the sky rocketing suicide rate - four times the rate of their straight counterparts.  I pray for the day when everyone will know that God doesn't make mistakes and all these troubled kids (of which I was once one) will know they are loved and that it does get easier and that you can live a fulfilling life in a society that generally denigrates your circumstances.  I was having a conversation with a very important person in my life recently.  He is intelligent and provocative and he asked me - 'if you knew one of your boys was born gay, and you could, with the wave of a magic wand, change him, and make him straight, would you do so without anyone, including your son, knowing what you had done?' Without a second of thought, I responded - 'absolutely'.  Now, this is very different than asking me if I care whether they were born gay or not.  I could care less.  They are my kids and I love them unconditionally.  If they are straight, I pray they will be tolerant of all human beings' differences.  If they are not, I pray we will be worthy role models for learning to live life to the fullest in a world that is not nearly as compassionate or empathetic as one would hope.  Progress is slow, but we are making big steps forward and if ever there was any question, we are living proof. 

And, we are having a blast!  It is so much work but Steve has more energy than a ten year old so he is hardly phased.  I have been traveling like a crazy person for work and my mom has been Steve's sidekick.  There is little time for anything except babies and work.  I cannot believe we have been home for three weeks and I have not posted on the blog.  No time.  When I do have a spare moment I just sit and stare at the boys - I can look at them for hours and never get bored.  When I was in LA last week I would look at videos and photos of them every night before I went off to sleep and each time I would get just a little teary eyed.  We love them so much it hurts.

Leaving Delhi.  Jag passed out on my luggage.  The new international airport is stunning.  It rivals any airport in the world - efficient, clean and modern.  Last year you had to navigate a barrage of farm animals to even get thru to the terminal!

'Where's the Mother?'

I kid you not, we must have been asked this question in excess of 50 times.  I kid you not!  It started with the security at the entrance to the airport and continued with every Indian national that walked past.  It became offensive at some point.  We had our story.  Each time we were asked we replied 'at home, she's at home'.  Some puzzled looks, some further questioning.  Some accepted and walked away.  For a select few, the interrogation continued.  A couple of times I got carried away with our 'tale of the missing mother'. I finally told one person she had to work and couldn't go with us!  Ugh.  I did not relax until the wheels left the tarmac and we were airborne.  The American Airlines flight attendants were amazing.  We were in business class and I had bulkhead seats (the airline blocked the seat next to me - so nice) and Steve sat across the aisle.  They will not allow two adults in one row with lap children because there are only three oxygen masks and that doesn't jive with four mouths.  They brought a bassinet for one and the other slept in the seat next to me.  Several times the flight attendants took them for a period. One flight attendant held Ajay in the jump seat, fed him, changed him and let me sleep.  The 15 hour trip was really painless.

We appreciate India and thank God for the USA!

It is good to be home and good to be alive...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Farewell & Alvida

Well, after 5 weeks and some of the most memorable days of our lives, we are headed home.  We fly out tonight on a 12:15am flight - non-stop to Chicago and then a quick connection to Dallas.  We are so happy to get home but we will always have fond memories of our time in Delhi.  It is stressful, chaotic and foreign but it is also the home of our children's mother and birth mother and because of that it will always hold a special place in our lives.

 An image I won't soon forget!  I visited this location (the MHA) on four separate occasions.

Our investigation, which was required in order to issue the boys' visas, took exactly 8 days to complete.  We had wonderful help from Mr Chawla and his associate Radhika.  We paid extra money for expediting the process because we are eager to get home.  I suspect we could have saved the money and let Radhika work our case at a less frantic pace - if we had been comfortable staying another week, but no sense in second guessing after the fact.  I can tell you that it would have been stressful beyond belief to attempt to navigate the investigation without Radhika.  Even this morning, despite being assured our visas would be issued, there was a last minute scare.  We were at the FRRO almost an hour as Radhika ran between officials - appearing somewhat upset at times - leaving the room and returning. We feared for a bit that perhaps this was not over after all.  As it turns out, the officials are simply being extra, extra careful with the departure of these surrogacy babies.  Several signatures later and we paid the Rs 3700 ($83 USD) for the actual visas and were on our way. 

There is much speculation about why this happened but I can now share that it appears this is all the result of one couple who have tried to leave without paying their bill and it just happens they are SCI clients.  The odd thing is that this very person who is now stuck in Delhi has taken to posting nasty, anonymous comments on others' blogs and posting untrue details on forum message boards.  I have always, from the day I started this blog, worked at telling the truth - not sugar coating - but always trying to find the positive in a very challenging, emotional process.  Why on earth does this person feel the need to single us out for persecution?  Why would this person blame their troubles on Dr Shivani?  I don't know this person and God knows I don't care to but I write this and ask that you please stop posting anonymous comments on my blog and others'.  I will NEVER publish them anyway so save your time - use your time trying to dig yourself out of your own mess that you created and have now created for the rest of us.  And to satisfy you constant questioning - here are your answers - so grab a pen and paper Ms Anonymous...

1.  I do not work for Dr Shivani.  I love her dearly, but she is my doctor, not my employer.  We have a professional relationship whereby I paid her for services and she delivered them in a manner that exceeded our expectations - thus, I say nice things about her.  That's how it works.
2.  If you read my blog you would know I have a full time job, and fortunately, I make a nice income and don't need to try and claim referral business from the doctor in an attempt to offset my bill...unlike yourself.
3.   I received no discounts on our surrogacy package for saying nice things about Dr Shivani.  I think she is good at what she does, genuinely cares about her clients and I want to share that good news with others who are exploring options for building their family.
3.  Our surrogate was paid approximately $6,000 and this was all spelled out in the contract - how it was to be paid, at what stages of the pregnancy, etc. And, unlike you, we paid our surrogate.
4.  Yes, I care about whether or not our surrogate was paid.  I know she was paid because I was with her last week in person!  She provided us a signed affidavit stating she was satisfied and paid in full.  She took one whole day of her own time to accompany us to the MHA in an effort to expedite the boys' visas.  Does that sound like a surrogate who has been mistreated by her doctor?  Hardly.

Moving on.

We had a great visit with the SCI staff today and here are some photos as we bid farewell and final thank you to Dr Shivani and her wonderful staff.

Thank you again Dr Shivani for making our dreams come true.  We are forever grateful.  Much love from us and the boys always.

Dr Shivani (left) with Ajay and Shilpi (right) with Jag
Laxmi with Ajay

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Time Flies By

We are now into our 5th week in Delhi.  Not how we planned it, but it is what it is and as my mom said, 'honey, there is a reason God has kept you all there'.  This I believe.  Even last week when I was throwing a fit inside to get our exit visa and leave, and get home to my work, our dogs and our home - I knew I had to be open to seeing the positive in our delay here.  It doesn't take much looking actually - not when you are open to seeing the positive in things.  The fact of the matter is this - I would have gotten home and immediately gotten on a plane and begun to attend a series of very important work engagements that I am now missing.  I am missing several events this week alone and it pains me to miss them...but, the events go on without me - planning via late night phone calls and emails with staff in LA...and as a result of my fabulous team (you know who you are), the events will be perfection - this I know.  I am spending invaluable time with my family.  I am with the boys during a critical time in their growth, development and imprinting.  Everything happens for a reason...

For those who don't know, there was a delay in obtaining our boys' exit visa last Thursday.  This was not a complete surprise as our embassy had told us from day one that this was happening with some surrogacy cases - 'further investigation' as it was called.  We believed we had taken some steps, under advice and guidance from our legal representation, that would potentially preempt an investigation, but it did not satisfy the Indian officials.  So, it wasn't a total shock last Thursday when we were told the Indian government needed more information (despite all our papers being in order, US passports in hand for the boys and citizenship certificates as well).  This 'enquiry' as it is called can take several weeks but our embassy made a call (they have been terrific) to the head of enquiry and things are moving along quickly with the assistance of our attorney.  I don't want to get in the middle of Indian surrogacy politics here - this blog is about my family, and our friends and family sharing our story - not about politics.  So, we can all speculate about the motives, but it is irrelevant.  The fact of the matter is the government wants to make sure our surrogate was treated properly, paid as contracted, etc.  Our investigator visited us at our residence in Delhi the very next day after the launch of the enquiry and then interviewed the surrogate at Dr Shivani's office the same evening.  Things are moving quickly and we are told that our case should be complete and our family on a plane very soon.  Only time will tell.

Aside from being able to spend unforeseen quality time with the boys, another beautiful thing that came from this enquiry is that we were able to see our surrogate again - something that otherwise would not have happened.  She is doing fantastic - post c-section - and looks well!  She went with us on our FRRO appointment to assist in moving our case along thru enquiry more quickly.  This is something she didn't have to do, but in order to help us, she took most of an entire day and accompanied us.   While waiting at the FRRO, she was able to hold and feed Ajay a bottle.  It was the most precious moment of the entire experience for me and I am welling with tears even now.  When we left that day she placed both hands on each babies head and bowed to us, smiling ear to ear.  She is so proud of what she was able to do - this gift she was able to give.  It is the most amazing, gentle reminder of the kindness of the human soul.  I will always remember that moment with her. 

I can tell we've been here a while because of things I've watched grow and change.  The monsoons have gone since we arrived and the city has taken on a new feel - people are outside, washing their cars and cleaning the walkways.  The Commonwealth Games have begun after years of preparation - opening ceremonies were Sunday evening.  For the Americans and others who have likely never heard of the CWG, think Summer Olympics with no American team.  Delhi is the host city this year and, like the Summer Olympics, this event comes every four years and is largely a competition for the original British colonies (of which India is one), but there are 54 permanent members of the Commonwealth of Nations and over 70 participating nations in this year's games.  The city has been vastly improved since my last visit - all largely in preparation for these games.  There are over 6000 athletes here competing.  Traffic - not so fun.

One thing, however, that reminds me of our tenure is a family of pigeons outside our bathroom window (yes, pigeons are filthy, I know - but I love animals and have been obsessed with these birds).  When we arrived, the mother had just hatched two small baby birds and I watched her feed them each day, watched them grow.  They are now almost grown and I suspect they will fly any day.  It has been so cool to watch them mature.  They are in the front of the picture below - their mother behind them.
So, to pass the time - I bird watch - sans binoculars!

Our other pass time?  Television.  I have watched more re-runs of Murder She Wrote than I watched when it was on the air in the 1980's!  How on earth Jessica Fletcher always wound up in the midst of a murder each week is still astonishing!

And now, as always, the important are the boys...

I call this edition 'Brotherly Love'...enjoy...

Jag: 'But I'm not sleepy daddy'
Ajay: 'Really? I'm exhausted, speak for yourself!'
Jag:  'OK, will you dim the lights please?'
Ajay:  'Can someone pass me a pacifier?'
[silence - occasional coo-ing, but mostly silence]
Ajay:  'Thanks, I needed that!'
Jag:  [silence]
Jag:  'It's hot in here, move over!'
Ajay:  [silence]
Jag:  'I said move over!'
Ajay:  [yawn]
Jag:  'OK, now you are really pissing me off'
Ajay:  'But, I love you Jag'
Jag:  'Daddy, GET ME OUT OF HERE.'
Ajay:  'No, Daddy take me instead.'

And they lived happily ever after...

And this video titled 'Ajay finds his thumb'...