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Friday, October 26th, 2012
There is a surge of births through surrogacy and Hollywood is taking notice. E! News host Guiliana Rancic has a son by a surrogate mother, born last month. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick also have children born of a surrogate, just like actors Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban.
Crystal Travis has experienced the anguish of infertility herself and selected surrogacy as a solution. She said, “Every family has the right to realize their dreams of parenthood in an affordable and low stress way.” Travis and her husband have a son born in India, and a pair of twins born two years later of the same surrogate mother in India.
Because of their experience, Crystal Travis started a consulting service for intended parents.
Surrogacy costs about the same as adoption, but has an important benefit: The resulting baby has a genetic connection with one or both parents.
Choosing a surrogate mother in India is a fraction of the cost of surrogacy in the United States. But it can be difficult for prospective parents navigating their way through the paperwork and ensuring their baby gets good prenatal care. Travis has helped dozens of people become parents through surrogacy in India, overseeing the pregnancy, birth and homecoming every step of the way.
More than 25,000 babies are born through surrogate mothers in that country annually.
Travis launched her consulting business after the birth of her twins. “Surrogacy is a 2.3 billion dollar industry in India,” she says. She frequently travels to India to meet with attorneys and have personal contact with the doctors providing prenatal care and delivery.
A support staff in India makes frequent calls to check on the progress of each pregnancy, and the well-being of surrogate mothers. There are fewer laws regulating surrogacy in India, which contributes to the lower cost and faster results. But adoption experts warm you must do your homework and only sign with international agencies that follow the international human rights laws of the Hague Convention. (Countries that follow stricter adoption legislation are less likely to be involved in child trafficking and baby selling.)
What do you think of the surge on Hollywood surrogacy? It’s definitely every bit as expensive as an international adoption, FYI.
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Friday, February 24th, 2012
Last month I attended a press screening of a Disney premiere and journalists were invited plus guest so I brought my excited 5-year-old Sam. In case the kiddies got bored (which they quickly did), the publicists set up a kid’s jumper where toddlers were giggling maniacally.
Sam kept helping a little girl up off the sidelines because “Tina” was getting battered by the bigger boys. This gutsy little girl with jet-black bangs was grabbing Sam’s hand and bouncing her way back to center. She was bossy!
After 10 minutes, the Indian girl’s blond mother approached to congratulate me on having such a “little gentleman” of a son. (We do actually teach Sam to be extra-gentle because he is the size of a small dinosaur already.)
New daughter Tina was adopted 15 months ago from India after a 2-year-wait. Tina was originally listed as a Special Needs child because she was born with a “meningocele,” a type of spina bifida where the spinal cord develops normally but the thin protective covering of the chord (the meningocele itself) protrudes from an opening in the vertebrae.
While the cause is unknown, researchers claim malnutrition and environmental factors play a part. Lucky for Tina, she experiences little or no affects of the condition, and only one minor operation shortly after birth repaired the hole… she doesn’t even have a scar.
Tina’s adoptive mom thought it was a stroke of genius that her upbeat, musically inclined daughter was labeled Special Needs, which meant the usually long adoption wait proved months shorter.
“Imagine how long we’d have to wait if she was perfect,” laughs Tina’s Mom. (Meaning, of course, she is perfect—get it?)
We returned home that evening with Sam rumbling on about his new friend “Tina,” so I asked my husband if he’d consider adopting a child in need from India.
Darrin placed his hands in prayer pose as he nodded and said a whole-hearted “Namaste.” It meant yes, yes, yes!
PS: A grand welcome to mommy blogger Ellen Seidman who has joined the talented Parents.com stables. Please read her blog!
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Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
My friend Denise Imbesi began thinking about and then preparing for an international adoption nearly four years ago! She was single (at the time) and always wanted to be a mom. She is also a successful business owner and funded the nearly $20,000 ($10,000 plunked down to start).
She also highly recommends her Indian Agency/ IFS India Family Services because they ushered her painlessly through the process for two years!
She said, “They expained costs and paperwork along the way, and, yes, it felt like a big chunk of change to lay out with nothing to show for it for the first year or so, but the end product is worth it”
Denise went to India July 4th to pick up her 4-year-old daughter who she’s been trying to adopt for 2 years. She spent one week in India finalizing immigration, visa, etc. Denise said, “I was a nervous wreck and began crying the second I walked into the orphanage outside of Delhi. It was a beautiful building, clean and neat, with Mickey Mouse on the walls. There were 50+ orphans sleeping and living in one huge room, most of them girls under four. That was pretty sad because they had no parents but all seemed well-tended.
Jaya, 4 years old, looked so scared and she was wearing too-tight clothes and dirty shoes. She was in shock and frightened, she was petrified but she warmed up quickly and she began saying “mama” pretty quickly, and she fell asleep in Denise’s arms within 15 minutes of me holding her for the first time.”
“We stayed with our Indian liaison who told us everything to do to make her feel better. I toured her room of 50 beds lined up and some were cribs and some were obviously special needs kids, India’s special needs kids among the healthiest ones.
All the little kids were praying and saying ‘Namaste,’ and then the following day we took her through legal proceedings, filed final papers and took her to the hotel. Jaya spoke only Hindi and communication was difficult for the first few days. Lots of gesturing.”
Denise and her partner Sara found out the hard way that Jaya at 4 was never potty trained and she began crying as they left the only home she’d ever known. “Jaya was carsick, she’d never been in a car before. The trip home was trying for her but her life is better than it ever could ever be in India.”
Photo above: The first moment adoptive mother Denise (in white at right) met her new daughter, Jaya!
Tune in on Friday when Denise realizes that Jaya does not speak a single work of English!
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Monday, January 30th, 2012
Before you ask (and you will ask — everybody does), I did not have trouble conceiving our son, Sam. I was working at a job I adored Organic Spa Magazine and I was in love with my newish fiancee (then a screenwriter in Los Angeles) when everyone — from my gyno to my mother-in-law — began beseeching us to start trying to get pregnant due to my “advanced maternal age.”
Well, well, surprise. Take that advanced maternal age! First month out of the gate, well past my 35th birthday.
Tough subject, I know. I have universal respect for women friends in their thirties and forties who have never been able to get pregnant at all; I understand (a little) how much that sucks. Two of my best friends cannot get pregnant still.
But I now take pleasure in my work, I gleefully pedal my beach cruiser, hike with my dog, I enjoy this “me time” I carved out with only one kiddo. (Yes, I do admit it: I also like my stomach toned and flat again.)
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