What does a relationship with International Intended Parents really look like?
We will have quite a few applicants, or even just people who are curious, tell us that they only want Domestic Intended Parents because they want a close relationship. So I wanted to open up this topic of conversation to understand what an International journey looks like, how it differs, and how in many ways, it is extremely similar. First, I will note that the level of communication along with the closeness of a relationship does not directly correlate to the distance between the gestational carrier and intended parent. It can seem daunting to imagine the parents of a child you are carrying located across the world. I was one of those women who was set on only carrying for a domestic couple. In my mind, the distance would keep us from being able to get close and honestly, I was scared about language barriers and cultural differences.
But I was presented with an international couple. My first response was to say no. It wasn't what I pictured when going into this. But my husband encouraged me to at least find out more about the couple. So I asked for a bio of sorts to see if there was some sort of connection that I could feel. In that instant of seeing my intended parents, I realized that infertility has no culture. It has no language. It is something that effects us all as human beings. The pain is the same and I could help remove some of that; even if they were located half way across the world.
As far as some of the challenges are concerned, the amount of time we could communicate during the day was limited. I had to message in the mornings only to avoid waking them up. If something came up in the afternoon, I needed to remember to email them as to not set off any alerts that could send them into a panic in the middle of the night. They also couldn't attend many appointments. But that didn't mean I couldn't keep them in the loop. And let's be honest. Those five minute appointments would be awfully boring and a let down for IPs to travel for! But they were able to travel to the US for our anatomy scan and then of course once baby was born. There can also be some cultural differences and language barriers that definitely makes it different than carrying for someone here in the US. But I found that I came to love it! It gave me an opportunity to learn more about another culture than I ever realized. Turn that into a positive. They want to learn from you and you can learn so much from them. Share recipes, what holiday's look like, how they celebrate birthdays, what a family get-together entails, etc. It is so enlightening to learn how others live and at the same time, realize we aren't that different after all.
I think one of the biggest hang ups that I hear is about communication after the fact. Some women are worried that the distance will make it so she may never receive updates on how the child does as he or she grows up. The truth is, whether the couple is international or domestic, there is always a chance that you will get very few updates or possibly none at all. Relationships and expectations can change. The most important thing to look at is not where the IPs are located when wanting a close relationship; but rather their expectations of what the relationship will look like. I still receive pictures and updates every few months and I cherish each one. It is so much fun seeing him grow and seeing how happy his parents are. Distance would not have changed that. If your heart is set on helping someone in the same state or same country, we would never discourage that. We understand that everyone has their strong preferences where they will or will not bend. But I ask, if you are questioning this decision, for you to truly give it some thought. Think about why you feel this way, what you are looking for, and how distance from your IPs may or may not change those wants. It may open up the world to you. ;)