Our journey with surrogacy started like most peoples, with lots and lots of internet searches, research and emails. I wrote to many agencies during this time to gather information and to discuss my medical and geographical limitations. I received many responses mostly automated generic material that did not address any of my concerns, or treat me as an individual, some instantly asking me to sign a retainer and commit to an agency without ever speaking to a real person.
Only one agency wrote me back a non automated non generic letter actually addressing my concerns and questions from an actual human being. This agency was Coastal Surrogacy. The person was Julia Dean. In fact I continued to be in touch with the agency and with Juli for 3 years before I was ready to commence our surrogacy journey and never once during this 3 years was I asked for money or put under any pressure to move forward before I was ready.
My husband and I live in Melbourne Australia and everything about the surrogacy process was daunting when we began, being that we live so far away. For a start we live 16 hours away by plane so when other agencies would tell us we had to commit to 4 - 6 trips during the process, this was simply not practical for us financially or time wise. We had never been to America, we had no idea where to stay, how to get around or where to start with the whole process - everything seemed difficult, foreign and overwhelming.
We decided to move forward with Coastal Surrogacy in 2008. I have to say this was the single best decision we made during this process. We flew to the US and from the moment we met with the agency we knew we had made a sound and wise decision. It was clear when we met with Juli that this was going to be more than a business relationship - this was a human relationship. We had so much on the line financially and emotionally it terrified us. We needed to know that the agency we were working with was going to be as invested in the process as we were. The surrogacy journey is challenging, there is no template or set format telling you how it will play out. It is different for every couple and our experience was not straightforward or easy. In fact looking back most of it was difficult. Agencies don't often tell you this. Why would they?
For us it didn't' work the first time, or the second time or the third time. Each time it didn't work it was devastating and a huge blow financially and emotionally. There were times we considered throwing in the towel and it all seemed so incredibly upsetting and painful - we couldn't see how we could continue. But despite all the disappointment one thing we never doubted was the agency. Our disappointment was the agencies disappointment. They didn't just ride with us when things were going well - they showed unwavering commitment to us when the chips were down and we didn't think we had the strength or the money for one more try. Juli worked with us through it all, spent hours with me on the phone discussing our options, talking with me, sometimes us just having a bit of a cry together. She was our rock during this time helped us along with gentle wisdom, advice, suggestions and gave us possibilities for the future and always giving us the time we needed to process and make our own decisions.
With Juli's guidance and advice we decided to try one final time with a new surrogate. We gathered every last cent we had and flew to the US again to have another try. We were matched with the most wonderful women and we knew instantly whatever happened on this final attempt we had the best team we could have had. If I could have handpicked the qualities for the women to carry our baby - they already existed in the form of our incredible surrogate. She was extraordinary. So full of positivity and confidence that this would be our time - she swept us up bundled in her enthusiasm and carried us right to the day of our transfer. She packed our fears and doubts neatly away telling us they were no longer required now she was on the job. She was right. It was our time and our forth try was successful - and we are expecting our twins to enter the world in June 2010.
Our relationship with our surrogate mother and with the agency is more than we could have hoped for. Our lives have been enriched beyond measure. I simply don't know how anyone could settle for a relationship with an agency that was less than a deep personal connection where there is not an equal investment in an outcome. This is our lives, our children's lives - it is a personal and precious relationship from people from opposite sides of the world forged on the common goal to bring two healthy babies into the world.
One thing I know for sure is that long after the business side of things has come and gone - we will be left with a deep and lasting friendship with both our surrogate and the agency who helped and guided us through a process that for so many years seemed beyond reach for us. This process is so much more than a business relationship and we will be forever grateful to Juli and her team who guided us through it all with an abundance of kindness, compassion and a deep personal investment in our success. Would I recommend Coastal Surrogacy? Yes very highly.