The Journey Home

The process of bringing babies born through international surrogacy home is a complicated one, so we never had any illusions that it would go completely smoothly.

The first step right after the birth was making an appointment at the US Consulate in Mumbai to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).  To submit this application, we had to provide multiple documents and DNA samples to prove that DJ and MJ are the biological children of a US Citizen that has been living in the US for at least the last 5 years.  This proves that DJ and MJ are natural born US Citizens no matter what the anti DJ or MJ for President birthers of 2056 have to say.  The supporting evidence was all conscientiously gathered for the big date only to find out that the US Consulate’s credit card machine was temporarily down and we needed to pay cash.  After a mad scramble in a taxi searching for a bank that would advance cash on a US based card, our driver Mr. T ended up saving the day by driving to his own home nearby and fronting the cash, to be paid back after returning to the hotel on the other side of the city.  Phew!

After several days of waiting for the application materials to be sent to the US to be processed and responded to, the twins were officially declared US Citizens and passports could be issued.

USA! USA!

USA! USA!

Great!  So we can leave now, right?  “Not so fast”, says the Indian government.  India is a country that requires a visa to enter and exit.  The babies needed exit visas from the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) on their shiny new passports.

Josh and I obtained tourist visas last year at the beginning of this process.  After we got to India and did the IVF procedure with the help of our surrogate in early November, it was announced in December that the visa guidelines for  surrogacy had changed.  Intended parents coming to India for the purposes of surrogacy were now required to travel on special medical visas, and these medical visas were only to be issued to couples consisting of a man and wife that have been married for at least two years.  This was a not-so-subtle jab at gay intended parents seeking to have children through surrogacy.  We took solace in the fact that we were “grandfathered” in before the new guidelines were publicized and enforced, but are still very sad and angry for the many gay intended parents that could have come after us but have now had the door slammed in their face.  This was a misguided moralistic decision made by someone in the Indian government, and the toll it will take on the Indian economy is already becoming evident.  For months there have been murmurs on the internet of second thoughts and restrictions being reversed, but at this point I think the damage has been done.  Gay intended parents are already looking toward Thailand for surrogacy options and will be unlikely to consider India in the future out of fear that fickle elements of the Indian government will change their minds yet again.

Even though we have been “grandfathered” in before the new visa guidelines, the process for getting exit visas from the FRRO is now more complicated.  It used to be that these exit visas could be issued on the same day if you wait in line for hourslike at the DMV.  Now we had to submit notarized documents proving that we started the surrogacy process before December and these documents are supposed to be reviewed by the main FRRO office in Delhi.

As soon as the exit visas were finally issued on Wednesday morning, we changed airline tickets to get Josh and the twins out of India on Thursday night.  Josh is currently braving a 15 hour flight to Newark handling twin newborns by himself while I and the older twins hastily try to prepare for the homecoming tomorrow.

Pictures of the joyous reunion to follow…

 

Two Halves, Half a World Apart

David AJ JJ           Josh DJ MJ

MJ and DJ were born quite healthy and were discharged from the hospital in just under 72 hours.  I was able to stay in India for several days after the birth to bond with the little twins and help start the paperwork process to get them home.  Baby boy MJ is a bit fussy, but is a bottle champion, downing more than 2 oz. in record time.  Baby girl DJ is a quiet little lady who likes her beauty sleep and does not like to be disturbed for chores like diaper changes.  I love them both intensely.

But now we have started the phase of the process that I always anticipated to be the most difficult, coming home.  With work responsibilities and the older twins waiting at home, I needed to come back to the US for a few weeks before Josh and the little ones can follow when they get exit visas issued from the Indian government.  Given his experience and his night owl tendencies, he hasn’t had too much trouble handling the twins on his own overnight at the hotel.  During the daytime we hired a nurse from an agency recommended by the hospital to help care for the twins so Josh can rest a few hours.  A nurse to care for twins 11 hours a day ended up costing under $50 USD and is well worth it, if you ask me.

Eagerly anticipating the day our big family can be unified at home!

Meet DJ and MJ!

We are thrilled to announce the birth by caesarean section of a baby girl DJ and a baby boy MJ at Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai, India on July 1 at 3:30 pm local time.  The babies both weighed about 2.5 kilos (5.5 lbs).  They were observed for about an hour in the recovery room and were doing well enough to avoid NICU and go directly to a regular room.  The surrogate did have some post partum bleeding but she is recovering well and did not require a transfusion.

We are very grateful to everyone who has helped us in this process and to all our friends and family for their marvelous support.

Baby Girl DJ (L) and Baby Boy MJ (R)

Baby Girl DJ (L) and Baby Boy MJ (R)

Josh holding baby girl DJ for the first time moments after the birth

Josh holding baby girl DJ for the first time moments after the birth

A photo with Dr. S, the OB/GYN who delivered the twins.  Thank you!

A photo with Dr. S, the OB/GYN who delivered the twins. Thank you!

 

We Have a Date!

Happy Birthdays July 1 and 2!

Happy Birthdays July 1 and 2!

Our surrogate has been admitted to the hospital for almost two weeks.  Despite her discomfort, she has not shown any signs of early labor.  After consulting with the delivering OB/GYN Dr. at Hiranandani Hospital on Wednesday, it was decided in the best interest for the health of the twins to wait until term before scheduling a C-section.

Thus the C-section is scheduled for Monday July 1, one day before 37 weeks gestation.  We could have requested Tuesday July 2, but having two sets of twins with the exact same birthday would probably take the whole sharing thing to the extreme after all.

Today we made arrangements for the twins’ umbilical cord blood to be collected and sent to a blood bank.  We did this with AJ and JJ 6 years ago, and consider it a worthwhile investment for a couple reasons. There is a lot of ongoing research in developing stem cell therapies for many different illnesses.  Given the fact that the egg donor is anonymous in gestational surrogacy, our children may have more difficulty than usual locating a donor match if they should ever need something like a bone marrow transplant.  Banked stem cells may come in handy in these circumstances.

In other news, we are very happy with the SCOTUS decisions regarding DOMA and Prop 8.  I think it was the best outcome that could be reasonably expected given the Justices currently seated.  What remains to be seen in the next few years is how many of the 37 states (including our current home state of Florida) that do not allow gay marriage will get with the program and change their policies before families like ours decide to move on to greener and more welcoming pastures…

The Baby Wait

Our friend Jason. This is the meal that started my GI issues, BTW

Our friend Jason. This is the meal that started my GI issues, BTW

Our surrogate is still resting in the hospital, and we have been in daily contact with our Dr. hoping for any news about a scheduled C-section. Tomorrow will make 36 weeks gestation, so we are hopeful for healthy births from this point forward.

Last week, our friend Jason came to visit for 3 days. We feel badly that he had to leave before the twins’ arrival, but we are very happy he was here to keep us company while we wait.

The last few days I have been somewhat incapacitated by the dreaded “Delhi Belly.”  My GI system is beginning to get back to normal.  I hope to be back to 100% when the twins are born.

More news later this week…