Conceptions and Misconceptions
After eight years of unsuccessful
treatment, we reached outside of ourselves. A lovely young new friend became our
egg mom and a dear, best friend became our hotel mom (gestational surrogate)!
The frozen embryo transfer was successful and our two families found ourselves
embarking on a unique journey. Although LeAnn, the surrogate, is a licensed
therapist with a degree in theology and I, a veteran of infertility, nothing
prepared us for the inane comments people would make. As they say, forewarned is
forearmed. I hope I can provide you with sword and shield.
The Carpet Layers
I spent an entire day working alongside two carpet layers in a home I was
remodeling. As they lay carpet, I painted. The usual chit chat ensued. I learned
one had recently had twins. They learned I was expecting a baby. I briefly
explained that my girlfriend was carrying the baby for me. Several weeks later I
encountered the carpet business owner with whom I had previously shared my
circumstances. With a quizzical look, she queried, "did you know what my workers
thought of you?"
"Well," I replied, "I told them about my pregnancy."
"No," she clarified, "do you realize what they thought of you?"
Now very curious, I waited for her response, shaking my head.
"They thought you were a lesbian!"
My mouth dropped, "Oh my! Well, that's certainly a first!"
LeAnn works as a part-time teacher and counselor at a private Christian school
in Modesto. She had shared her situation with many of the students already. With
her usual spontaneity she introduced me to the student body of freshman through
seniors during chapel, "this is the mother of my baby!" The entire student body
turned around in one accord and a strange silence engulfed the room. The
principal stuttered in his dismissal. The humor was not lost on LeAnn and me.
While walking out, one young man blurted out, "so, that is your mother, Mrs.
We laughed about that for weeks.
LeAnn's five-year-old twins queried their hairdresser during a recent haircut.
Pointing to her pregnant belly they said, "is that your baby or someone else's?"
Our surrogate and her family are very active in their church. ln fact, the
entire church had prayed for us during the tense period of waiting during and
after the procedure. They had been nothing but loving and supportive.
Once the pregnancy was a reality, friends felt more comfortable to utilize humor
regarding the situation. We all enjoyed and utilized laughter in the telling of
However, one can cross the line to bad taste. A pastor, of all things, remarked
to LeAnn's husband, "how does it feel to know another man's sperm is in your
The Witch with a Capital B!
LeAnn was faced with a showdown by a parent in her school. Her accusations
ranged from, "you are encouraging our children to go out and have sex and get
pregnant," to "God has told me that you and that other woman are violating God's
will...you are sinning." Other comments were, "it is wrong to have a child
outside of a `core' family," "the child will be so confused and will have no
sense of self," "this child will be like all those other adopted, illegitimate
or welfare kids," "you are being entirely selfish."
Fortunately, LeAnn was able to put on her "therapy hat" and handle the
situation. But it made her extremely angry. Not only was this woman maligning
LeAnn's character, she was judging me, whom she had never met, and most
importantly, she was ruining God's reputation.
Nothing prepared me for the severe reactions I would endure from my boss, the
president of a local credit union. As his personal secretary, I felt it
necessary to instruct him about my situation. I wanted to share my joy with this
man with whom I had developed a comfortable relationship. He did not come
through for me. (Note: we now resided in Southern Oregon and all medical
procedures were still conducted in Southern California.) Initially, he sputtered
comments, "what will you do about your job if you get a baby?" When I required a
few additional days medical leave during the time the doctor was trying to get
me pregnant, my boss blew up. I was instructed that this was by no means a
medical necessity and he threatened to fire me. The time came for me to request
vacation time due me to attend the embryo transfer into my surrogate. He denied
it. The last straw came when we discovered we were in fact pregnant. I requested
one day off a month to attend doctor visits of my baby. This, too, was denied.
By this time, the relationship with my boss had deteriorated to the point that I
found it unbearable. He fired me. There is now a lawsuit pending."
Your experience is most likely different than mine. But in the sharing of
heartaches, I believe there is value to be gained. Even in the early stages of
infertility treatments, you will battle the ignorance and cruelty of others.
Success in resolving infertility depends in large part on the level of your
endurance. I certainly encourage you to become active in RESOLVE or OPTS and to
reach out to those around you who can be kind and supportive.
A few thoughts:
Make a clear and thoughtful decision regarding who you will tell- either tell
everybody or nobody. Read current literature on open adoption to assist in this
Be patient with the ignorance of others.
Don't expect others to be as tactful as they should be.
Prepare your family for reactions of others that can feel like a personal
Prepare to do battle with religious zealots.
Settle yourself with God initially. Don't look to others to speak for God.
Consider this: if God expects people to seek treatment for a broken leg, then
doesn't He expect you to seek a solution for your broken heart--infertility?
Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by a boss who thinks he owns you.
* In December of 1995, the Haynes filed a federal lawsuit charging Chetco
Federal Credit Union with discrimination and breach of contract. Unfortunately,
the U.S. District Court in Oregon ruled they failed to prove discrimination had
occured and dismissed the case in October 1996.