Adrienne Arieff, author of the just-released Sacred Thread: The True Story of Becoming a Mother and Finding a Family—Half a World Away (Crown), spent 3 ½ long years trying to conceive. It wasn’t conception the problem, in fact; three times she got pregnant and three times she miscarried, thanks to a misshapen uterus. Then Adrienne’s husband, Alex, read about a clinic in India that does IVF and surrogacy; Adrienne’s doctor had told her the couple’s only options were adoption or surrogacy.
Adrienne spent months researching a variety of options, including the clinic, which is called the Akanksha Infertility Clinic, and ultimately decided to travel halfway round the world to work with a surrogate there to create her family. ConceiveOnline.com talked to Adrienne about her extraordinary journey, which resulted in birth of her twin girls, Emma and India, now nearly 3, and a special relationship with her Indian surrogate, Vaina.
ConceiveOnline.com: Tell us a little bit about what happened as you started working with the Akanskha Fertility Clinic.
Arieff: I did the IVF and then I have the anxiety of waiting for 2 weeks. Being in India doing IVF it was so different. With all those hormones, it does a number on you and your state of mind. I didn’t know if it was the hormones or the jet lag. In a way, it made it easier. I am a big believer in visual imagery, so I tried to visualize everything would be okay. So then I came back to the U.S. and I was on a business trip to New York and I got an email: Your surrogate is pregnant! It was all very virtual and weird. They were so professional and so wonderful, the doctors I worked with.
ConceiveOnline.com: What were your fears at the time, if any?
Arieff: Obviously, when you read about surrogacy, there are always comments saying you’re exploiting this person. I wanted to make sure the surrogate I worked with, Vaina, was doing it because she really wanted to help another family. One thing she said to me that resonated was, “I want you to have what I have,” which is a family.
When you’re doing something in India, it’s so far away. At times, I would totally burst into tears. When you do surrogacy in America, you can have a much closer relationship with your surrogate. The sonograms they sent me of the babies were blurry; those are the challenges that people should know about, if you venture to do it.
ConceiveOnline.com: Did you have concerns about the medical care?
Arieff: I had checked references and they all checked out. On the outside, it’s definitely a clinic in India, so I had concerns, but they were so professional. You have to have faith. It’s different; it’s not the US. I definitely had challenges, but in the end I had to calm down and have faith it would all work out.
ConceiveOnline.com: What do you wish you had known before you embarked on this literal journey to have your children? What would you tell someone considering foreign surrogacy?
Arieff: One of the things I really liked about the clinic I went to is that they only focused on couples that cannot have a baby and don’t have any children. They have a good reputation, so I would say to really do your homework on the clinic. The one thing I didn’t know is that they didn’t give me a regular schedule of communication and that was really hard and that was one of the main reasons I went back to India early; I needed to know everything was okay. The imagination goes wild, so I went back for the last 2 months of Vaina’s pregnancy. The communication aspect of the process was really frustrating.
Check back next week on ConceiveOnline.com for the final part of our interview with Adrienne! You can buy her book here.