Monday, May 31, 2010

The first diversion to me... (there will be more!)

I’m going to take a bit of a diversion back to me. Because it’s all about ME goddammit! It’s not, but I want to give you a bit more understanding of me as a person. It’s taken me a very long time accept that I am in fact a rather complex person. I also feel some stupid need to explain my relationship to my parents (your Oma and deceased Opa).

So I was born in the Netherlands on the 5th of December in the middle of the first blizzard of the season. There’s some mythology attached to this that I have never really been able to track down or make sense out of. And to be honest I never really figured it was that important. I never really liked snow that much anyway.

I spent nearly the first 8 years of my life in Rotterdam. And my only real clear distinct memory is of when I was learning how to ice skate. I saw a fish trapped in the ice of the canal we were learning to skate on and I was quite upset by this. I also remember it being quite beautiful, a gold coloured fish trapped in the ice and I seem to remember a rainbow on either the ice or the scales. I asked my father about it, as I was quite upset as to whether the fish would live when the ice defrosted.

He lied to me and told me that yes the fish would live and that fish would forever be a special fish as he survived the winter in the ice. I learnt much later that fish actually couldn’t survive being frozen. I also learnt that my father didn’t want me too upset so he basically fibbed to me. Your Opa was a gentle man and I think I learnt that too late in my life. He was also very generous and I hope that’s a quality I’ve acquired and a quality I can pass down to you both - I won't fool you though, my relationship with your grandfather wasn't perfect but I'll get to that later.

So anyway back to me!

Your grandparents (rather daftly) thought that to save their marriage, they could relocate to Brisbane. Suffice it to say, this wasn’t the best idea (they split 3 years later). My parents’ divorce was a defining moment in my life – the ramifications of which I am still feeling. I didn’t really have much to do with my mother after she left us. I think for a long time I tried to reconnect with her and it just wasn’t ever going to work. We are now well & truly estranged but I will save that particular story for a different blog post.

I grew up in Brisbane. I did call it home for many years. I didn’t ever particularly feel like I belonged there. I went through school always being different. Originally, I went through primary school being different because I had an accent and I was struggling to learn English. Then when my parents’ divorced, I was treated differently because we (your uncle & I) were amongst the first kids at our school to come from a divorced family. By the time we hit High School – divorce was a lot more common and it was actually surprising if people’s parents were still together. It’s funny how the world changes!

Then in high school – I was the fat, gay kid. So again I didn’t fit in and I couldn’t if I tried. I didn’t really particularly try either. I think there’s a part of me that felt comfortable being the odd one out. But being an outsider can be tough.

It’s funny, I just wrote the preceding paragraph and I had to acknowledge that I am still an outsider. I don’t really fit very neatly into very many categories at the moment. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. I always resented labels.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The start of the surrogacy story

Most people visiting India are chasing a miracle of some description. I’m not really sure how many people actually achieve their miracles. We did – we’re amongst what I feel are the lucky ones and this will become the story of how we got our miracle(s).

I’m not really sure how this is going to turn out as a story. Most things I tend to be involved in have a slightly organic way of evolving into something so I probably should begin with myself. It’s probably the best place to begin.

I never expected to be here. I really didn’t. So this will probably also become my story and my story with Larry. Yay, a memoir. Am I self-important enough for a memoir? Probably not, but I am fabulous enough for one.

I don’t really know what I expected from my life. I spent a large part of my life just fumbling around – happily existing in what was effectively a very large rut. I did enjoy my rut I suppose. Apart from the work thing largely, I hated my job, I really did. But it paid reasonably well. First piece of advice girls, find something that you love and find something that you want to do for a very long time. Work is such an important part of your life – you have to find something that you love. We will try to help you with that give you a nudge here and a nudge there.

I was very fortunate in that I got a secondment into a job – I did actually enjoy, so I managed to get out of my rut. I was then about a year later made redundant – so I was given a nice tidy sum to basically never go back to that company. I was happy to take it. I did love the team I worked with and I do miss them at times.

I met your father, and he blew me away. He was everything I could ever want in a person. Smart, tall, handsome, funny, intelligent, good-looking, romantic, goofy. He did something incredibly sweet on our first date and I hope that when you find love – it’s this sort of love. We had dinner, he offered to drive me home because it was raining, we got out the front of my apartment complex, got out of the car and kissed me in the rain. At that point I kind of figured out he was a keeper (thankfully even after a some embarrassing personal revelations on the first date he decided I was a keeper as well!). As a father’s wish I do honestly hope that both of you find a love like this. I will love your farther until the day I die or the day he dies. We may kill each other first though – we have our problems but all couples do. Just don’t go to bed angry at each other! And do try to make each other laugh at least once a day. Laughter is seriously underrated in relationships. Although I do think your father spends more time laughing at me than laughing with me.

There’s so much more that I can tell you about my life but I won’t – life was an interesting journey for me it really was. I have made so many mistakes in my life – some I deeply regret and it’s partly my job as your father to help make sure you don’t make the same mistakes. You will make your own mistakes and I know you will but I will be here to help you with those too.

See I ramble… it will get worse (we’re nowhere near India yet!)

Our journey to creating a family wasn’t an easy one. It was a long one and one that crosses parts of the world. Sounds exotic and exciting doesn’t it? Originally, we looked at adopting a little girl from Vietnam (which entailed some shenanigans) and a couple of trips to India. Life is never dull girls – it’s really not!

So let’s start with Vietnam. Vietnam for me was so exciting. It was my first trip overseas since I went to Hong Kong in 2003. Your father was in the process of changing jobs and had some spare time and (unbeknownst to me at the time) he wanted to have a look at a few orphanages in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The plan being at that point that “we” (your father) would adopt a child and we would raise her in Australia. There were a few problems with this – namely the red-tape made it next to impossible. Although we did enjoy touring through Vietnam (if you ever go avoid the war museum – it’s just a little too gruesome! Seriously!). Also I will let you into a funny moment. There’s a hotel in Saigon called the Rex Hotel, which is quite famous for the rooftop bar. So we decided to go have a few beers and dinner and see what it was all about. It was cool. The funny bit was as we were leaving. There’s a taxi driver standing at the bottom of the lift. Your father walks out – hey Joe, I can get you what want – girl, boy! Your Dad, just shook his head and said no thanks. The guy looks at me and says hey mister – I can get boy for you. I was slightly mortified – apparently even when we travel overseas I’m quite obviously what I am…

So the adoption route was closed to us. We weren’t really sure what we were going to do and we did want to create a family more than anything on this world.

In 2008, your Dad was coming home from a business trip to London (he travels a lot!). He came across an article in the International Herald Tribune that discussed surrogacy in India. We had considered surrogacy in the US but it’s expensive – unfortunately, really expensive. We couldn’t afford it. And suddenly the option of something cheaper and more affordable came up. There was a way that we could create our family.