6 years ago (almost to the day), I first actively looked into becoming a surrogate and I feel like I have well and truly come full circle since then!
I have traversed the highs and lows of surrogacy, supported Intended Parents, surrogates and their families and friends, and started an institution that is Melbourne Surrogacy Support Dinners which I passed on the organisation of last year- to some amazing local surrogates. I have attended and spoken at seminars and conferences, snorting and ugly crying in front of large audiences as I shared my journey and those of others. I have contributed to the narrative surrounding surrogacy both in Australia and overseas by participating in studies, interviews and media pieces. I have been called an angel, an abomination, a media whore, a know it all, a judgmental bitch, a wealth of knowledge, a breath of fresh air and absolutely everything in between. Most if it was water off a duck’s back but some of it did sting, if I am entirely honest. I have made friends and lost friends. I have discovered new relationships along the way; some that will remain and some that were only temporary but we both offered something valuable to one another at a particular stage. I have laughed, cried, swore, bit my tongue, been controversial, been polite, have told people tough things they didn’t necessarily want to hear (but needed to hear) and been incredibly rude to those who believed that my uterus was theirs to use after one conversation (or sometimes one sentence!). I have witnessed and been party to the greatest of relationships being formed. Likewise, I have witnessed and been a part of relationships that have crumbled. I have walked the finest of lines when surrogates and Intended Parents have both wanted my ear about the same delicate topic and learned after a few mistakes that discretion is paramount in my dealings with any parties about surrogacy. I learned to recognise when I was being taken advantage of- my time, my money, my emotions. I learned how to say no. I learned to step back when it all became too much. I learned to trust others to take some of the burden that I could no longer carry for myself.
I have become a better person from this journey.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets. I lost friends because at that particular time, I couldn’t offer them the support they needed. Or because something I said was taken too personally, even though it came with the best intentions. And you all know my biggest regret- not being able to give KiT/CaT the baby they so richly deserved. I will carry the guilt of that in some form or another for the rest of my life.
So what now?
Since my last post/podcast, a lot has gone on. Unfortunately, all attempts to reduce/cure issues I was having as a result of birthing 4 babies in 3.5 years in 3 pregnancies meant that a hysterectomy was necessary. In addition, I needed anterior and posterior prolapse repair and a number of other procedures- quite a major surgery in the end and a LOT more “renovations” were required; much more than myself or my surgeon anticipated, so my recovery has been long and arduous. One positive of my surgery was that I have retained my ovaries so have not gone into menopause.
I ended up making the difficult decision to leave the surrogacy community altogether.
But then an opportunity fell in my lap. Serendipity, maybe?
Now I am using the empathy, experience, knowledge and information I have gained from the past 6 years in the surrogacy community to become the Client Administration Manager for an international surrogacy agency. I am loving the work so far and have helped a number of couples (from Australia and throughout the world) navigate through the initial stages of their journeys to parenthood or adding to their family.
I chose to work with this particular agency as they have great systems in place to support both Intended Parents and surrogates- which as you know is very important to me. There was also not much opportunity to work in a similar capacity in Australia, hence me working with an international agency. But don’t get me wrong, I am still a staunch supporter of local surrogacy, but I am also (and have always been) a supporter of choice. As I have mentioned previously, the volume of Intended Parents in Australia looking for local surrogates vastly outnumbers the volume of surrogates looking to carry for Intended Parents. This is a barrier to some. Also, some Intended Parents don’t want an established relationship with their surrogate, they aren’t a fan of our laws here (which are in the process of getting changed, finally!) or they just want to get things moving straight away and that is completely okay. There is room and demand for surrogacy undertaken within Australia and internationally.
Now for the shameless plug. Here is some of the feedback I have received from clients and potential clients thus far:
“Thank you so much for your detailed responses, this is very helpful!! “
“I wanted to comment on how impressed we have been with Renee, and her tireless efforts assisting us with the process.”
“We are very grateful for all your help during the past few months we wish you all the best, and best of luck, you done wonderful job with your kind and friendly email we always feel comfortable on this journey. We really appreciate all your help, without your help and assistance it was really difficult to reach to this point”
“Please pass on our sincere thanks to Renee for her professionalism, dedication, and understanding.”
“Words won’t be enough to say thank you . You have given me a hope and I am feeling so happy after reading your email. God bless you all for doing all the good work you.”
“Thank you so much Renee, you were incredibly helpful and we really appreciate you answering our (numerous) questions!”
In this role, I continue to subscribe to the mantra that Knowledge is Power and pride myself on communicating with full transparency, honesty and as much information as possible so those who want to use our services do so with full informed consent.
If you are interested in finding out more about what my agency can offer (whether you are from Australia or any other country), please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can go from there.
*Shameless plug over*
Finally, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of those who read my blog, referred to it, liked it, shared it, commented, sent me messages and emails, asked me to contribute to the wider surrogacy narrative and those who were simply my friends. I also want to thank my absolute rocks- my family- for supporting me unwaveringly throughout every high and every low, my Intended Parents who were amazing and everyone who taught me lessons (easy or hard). I also want to give credit to myself for having the strength to jump in and discover something that has been equally as challenging as it has been life changing. Carrying as a surrogate has been THE greatest thing I have done outside of creating my own family. Anyone got any ideas on how to top that?! 😉
Over and out from me. May your journeys to surrogacy and parenthood be enriched by the knowledge that I and others have shared with you.
All my love,
P.S. Cause you know I love a good stat (and because I just keep writing and writing and writing…).
Some interesting info about my blog for those who are remotely interested:
Since its inception
I have had 5,880 readers
from almost 80 countries
read my blog posts 28,000 times
liking them almost 300 times
and making comments 500 times.