Recently I received a compliment. One that really stood out to me and has stuck with me ever since. The compliment went something like this:
"Jeni, what I admire about you is how open you are about your journey and the guys. Your pride shines through."
While it was a VERY sweet compliment that I will always treasure, it really got me to thinking about something. When I began this journey in my oh so conservative community I often refer to as a bubble within a bubble, I wondered what the reaction would be from my peers when they learned that I was carrying babies for another family...a gay family. I have definitely evolved over the course of a year and a half and the way I present our surrogacy has changed a bit over that time, but one thing has always remained the same.
With anyone. With everyone. I share.
A pregnant belly seems to be a blinking neon light invitation for conversation. Even the most introverted person will want to chat it up with a woman sporting a pregnant belly. A twin pregnant belly is...well...twice the invitation.
I am blessed, or cursed depending on how you look at it, with the inability to be quiet. As soon as someone would want to begin chatting about my pregnant belly, I was ALL OVER IT! I immediately shared, with an overwhelming sense of pride, that I was carrying twins for a couple from New York. Yes, I shared with VERY young children that the Dr. had put 2 babies from another family into my belly and that I was growing those babies for them. The children would look at me with big eyes and giant smiles. Even kids "get it" in simple terms. And yes, I shared with the VERY old couple (I'm thinking late 80's/early90's), as we waited for an elevator, that the twins that I was carrying were for 2 men. May I add that the old couple told me that what I was doing was incredible and referred to me as an angel on Earth. That old man used his cane to shuffle to the elevator door and hold it for me as I exited on my floor.
I quickly noticed, and continue to notice that I get an overwhelming amount of acceptance and even respect from every person I have presented the idea of surrogacy to. Now, have there been those individuals that started out not approving of what I was doing? Yes. Did I receive a dirty look here and there? Yes. Did I witness a mom at my daughters' school whispering behind my back that I was a surrogate and would "give the babies away"? Yes. Did any of this bother me? Not in the slightest. You see, I strongly believe in what I did and who I did it for (I have yet to meet a surrogate who doesn't), and I made it a point to NEVER allow someone else's opinion to change that.
As I have come to know SO many of you within the surrogacy community, one thing is for certain. We are proud. I invite you, all of you...Surrogates, Intended Parents, Supporters...to share. Surrogacy is becoming more and more common. There are still a great deal of assumptions out there, a large amount of misinformation. I see it as my duty and desire (perhaps you do as well) to help clarify those assumptions and correct that misinformation. Through sharing, I have personally watched as those aforementioned individuals who initially disapproved of what I was doing, slowly changed their way of thinking as they learned more about what surrogacy truly looks like. That whispering mom? Now one of my biggest supporters. Here are my thoughts about presenting surrogacy to others.
Pride is respected. I present surrogacy with a great deal of pride. It's very obvious that I believe in what I am doing, and that makes it hard (or at least very awkward) for someone to disapprove or find fault with what I have chosen to do. A lack of pride can look like weakness to some, and thus make you more vulnerable to attack. I say tell your story loud and proud, my friends!
Enthusiasm is infectious. It's impossible for me to talk about surrogacy without having a gigantic smile on my face. I tell stories. Cute stories about George and Farid and the babies, funny stories about things that happened during the pregnancy, touching stories about our delivery...happy memories. I am usually met with a very interested ear, and the smile I share is almost always returned.
I never, EVER become defensive. Being defensive sets the stage for an argument and that is not how I choose to present surrogacy. I can make a MUCH larger statement by remaining calm and cool, understanding and accepting, than by becoming defensive. I am open about every step of the surrogacy process. There is not a question you could ask that I won't answer. Why? Because if you're curious about surrogacy and what it's all about, it is my honor to share that with you. The better one understands surrogacy and all that it entails, the easier it becomes to accept it for what it really is...an amazing experience.
Together, you and I, we can make a difference. We can help others to understand and fall in love with a topic that has changed all of OUR lives in one way or another. Let's share the good news, people!