To read part one of our interview with Adrienne, click here.
ConceiveOnline.com: Your husband Alex was obviously a big part of this journey to have your daughters. What might he recommend to men considering foreign surrogacy with their wives?
Arieff: “Be an advocate the entire time.” He was constantly making sure the surrogate was okay. He’s very pragmatic, so I think he would say, “be an advocate for your surrogate and your wife during the entire pregnancy.” He was much calmer than I was!
ConceiveOnline.com: How did you meet Vaina, who carried and delivered your daughters? Did you have a connection with her?
Arieff: The doctor at the clinic chooses the surrogate. Which I preferred, because how do you choose? I think [our connection] was definitely more toward the end. In the beginning there wasn’t so much of a bond. At the end [of her pregnancy], I would think, she’s carrying my twins. I would go every day to the clinic, bring her lunch, play games, we’d braid each other’s hair, we put makeup on each other; we acted like little girls.
Vaina doesn’t speak English and we had a translator a lot. There was a lot of hanging out, looking at magazines, a couple of hours a day. I can’t say it wasn’t awkward at times. I didn’t move in with my surrogate, as some people do. Now, I write her a couple of letters a year. She lives in a village that doesn’t get mail. Hopefully, I can go out there once every couple of years.
ConceiveOnline.com: What surprised you most about this experience of foreign surrogacy?
Arieff: As I mentioned, the lack of communication [during the pregnancy] was a negative. Also, for people who are used to Western standards, the clinic might put people off. One woman said she wasn’t comfortable, that it wasn’t clean. The clinic itself was as clean as it is in the U.S., but I shared a room with another person during the medical procedures. It’s still third-world, so just be aware of that. Some people had never traveled and they would just stay in their hotel room and get the treatment; you can do IVF for two weeks and if it works you go to India to pick up your child and leave. I chose to stay and be involved with my surrogate; you can do it all different ways. It’s such a business; there’s a huge egg donor business. But it’s the same in the U.S.: Fertility is a big business.
One huge positive is that the [legal] contracts are so much simpler. It’s a one-stop shop in India; you’re paying $25,000 to $35,000 versus $100,000 or more in the U.S., so it’s more than 50 percent less. When I saw the contract in the U.S. – I would have had to hire a lawyer, there was so much red tape. In India, a surrogate has to give up the baby upon birth. In the U.S. sometimes the surrogate can change her mind. A huge plus is less red tape, less money, and great health care – the surrogates all get a vegetarian diet, with tons of protein, and prenatal vitamins. They have 24/7 health care and they live together for the nine months of their pregnancy.
ConceiveOnline.com: Anything else you would want our readers to know? Many of them have been experiencing infertility for quite a while, so they may be considering less conventional methods to achieve their goal, like what you and your husband chose – including medical options they can afford in other countries.
Arieff: Understand the benefits, cost, and legalities; it’s so much less complicated. I saw women who had such serious infertility issues; one woman had no uterus, another had done IVF 10 times. It really was easier.