Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Complete Surrogacy Solutions: You had ONE JOB - by Drew

I’ve been an IT professional for almost 10 years now.  I’ve been in my current job for a little over a year, and its been a new experience for me, as I’ve moved into a sysadmin role.  I very much enjoy my job, and I’d like to think I’m doing well in it.  If someone comes to me with a problem, I am straightforward about my ability to fix it, as well as how much time I think it’ll take.  If I misrepresent either, I’m not only making myself look bad, but my whole team’s appearance suffers.  In a similar vein, when dealing with vendor support teams, I need to be honest about my knowledge and experience in order for them to best know how to assist me.  If I were to claim I knew more than I did, I’d actually impede the process of resolving my problem.

When the disasters with our travel visas and our twins’ birth happened, I don’t doubt that on some level, Kim believes she did everything she could to help us.  The ultimate reality is she accomplished nothing that helped us.  One reason for this is that I believe that Kim, for all of her projected confidence, amiability, bluster, and bravado, doesn’t have any influence on the actual surrogacy process.  At the very least, she doesn’t have as much as she thinks she does.  Here is how I came to this conclusion.

Point 1 - Kim did not seem to have any substantial relationships with the professionals in India, and didn’t appear to have invested in the ones she may have had.

  Until she went there after we’d returned home, Kim hadn’t traveled to India since the birth of her ‘nephews’ back in May of 2013.  We know this, because said so on her Facebook page.   At the very least, despite promising us that she would, she never visited India while our surrogate was pregnant.  As a result, she never saw the conditions at Adiva Hospital.  If she had, one would think that different decisions about Adiva’s/Bakshi’s viability as a partner would have been made well before we became her actual clients.

  In all fairness, Kim did communicate with Bakshi’s office via Skype.  I know this happened at least once, as she was on a Skype call with them at the same time that I was at Bakshi’s clinic filling out our initial paperwork in November of 2014, and I saw her myself.  Even if that happened on a regular basis, if she never traveled there herself, she missed out on a tremendous opportunity to cultivate personal and professional relationships.

  There are loads of articles out there that talk about the commuting vs. telecommuting debate that many businesses contend with on a regular basis.  As an IT professional, I get asked about it, and contend with it, frequently.  I have a very pleasant working relationship with my colleague in Delhi, but I had only ever talked to him over Skype.  While I was in Delhi in October, though, I managed to meet him for the first time, took a tour of the Delhi office, and met a few of the other people who work there.  I thoroughly enjoyed doing so.  No longer was “the Delhi office” just a conceptual place to me, I could picture it.  I felt much more connected to my colleague, and he and I were able to talk about things that didn’t have anything to do with the work that we did together.  That deepened and broadened our relationship.

  Seeing the responses and reactions that Kim’s emails to Bakshi and her staff received as compared to ours, I didn’t see any real difference.  As far as we could tell, Kim seemed to be just another American emailing them with questions.  Skype is a great tool to promote connectivity with business entities in remote locations, but without that personal touch - meeting them in person, shaking their hand, exchanging pleasantries, etc. - a relationship can only be built so far.  Only so much a rapport can really be established.  Even though she was a facilitator, Kim didn’t seem to have any more of a relationship with Dr. Bakshi and her staff than we did in the beginning.

Point 2 - Kim never took an active role in our surrogacy journey

  Once we’d signed on with her, Kim sent us several documents about packages, pricing, etc.  One of them was a pre-natal schedule, which supposedly outlined when our surrogate would have checkups, ultrasounds, and the like.  Once we were pregnant, it seemed our entire lives revolved around how far along we were, and how long that meant we had to wait until we got the next ultrasound pictures.

  Almost right off the bat, we had to ask Kim when the next scheduled scan was going to take place and why there were delays.  It didn’t take us long to stop going through Kim entirely and ask Dr. Bakshi directly about the scans.  As a facilitator, Kim’s job was supposed to be preventing us from having to do that.

  We were entirely focused on the ultrasounds, as they were the only link we had to our developing twins.  As the IPs, this should be entirely unsurprising.  In retrospect, however, this was a mistake on our part.  We should have realized that if we had to chase after the clinic to perform ultrasounds on schedule, then who knows what was going on with our surrogate’s checkups?  We eventually did get the medical records for our surrogate, but by then all the damage was done.  Had we asked for these records during the pregnancy, we could have voiced our concerns about Mrs. S’s rising blood pressure and anemia.   Rhy did voice some concerns about Mrs. S’s risk of developing gestational diabetes, but was shamed into silence.  This happened more than once.  While it would have been good for Kim and Dr. Bakshi to at least hear out her concerns, it would have been ideal for them to have been proactively addressed.

  But again, this was supposed to be Kim’s job as our facilitator to ask for and obtain those records.  By being the one who was supposed to monitor the surrogate’s health status, she was supposed to be allowing us to focus on those precious ultrasound pictures.  Instead, all we got were assurances that we were having the ‘picture perfect’ twin pregnancy.  Basic monitoring of our surrogate’s health should have made it quite clear that this was not the case.

  Another set of promises that Kim made to us was that she could help us get what we needed during our stay in Delhi.  She had supposedly negotiated a special rate for her clients at the Hilton Garden Inn.  She had a deal with a local driver and his fleet.  Her package and pricing material even claimed that she would get us an Indian cellphone.  While we remarked to her at the time that an Indian cellphone would be considered quite valuable when we traveled there, we never heard any offer or mention of it again.

  We did not initially stay at the Hilton when we arrived in Delhi.  My colleague at work recommended one that my fellow Seattle-based employees stay at when they travel to Delhi.  While it was very close to Adiva Hospital, it wasn’t as good a hotel as the Hilton was supposed to be.  So we asked Kim to help us make arrangements for her reduced rate at the Hilton for the remainder of our stay.  It was then that we learned that her ‘contact,’ with whom she’d supposedly negotiated the reduced rate for her clients, had left the Hilton for another job, and had left some number of months prior to our arrival.  This is something that, if she were actively managing her relationships in India, she would have known well in advance of our arrival.  So in the end, we had to pay full price.

  Before we even left for Delhi, Kim asked Rhy to check in on another couple’s surrogate for her.  Personally, the fact that she had the gall to ask that of us infuriated me.  Our son, after all, had just died.  Rhy, however, was smart - Given that we were already upset with the level of effort Kim had put out on our behalf, if she checked on this surrogate, then that couple could be assured of a thorough, honest evaluation of the surrogate’s condition.  In exchange for Rhy essentially doing Kim’s job for her, Kim offered to pay for one of our nights at the Hilton.  Even then, she’d only made those arrangements after I reminded her to do so twice.

  She also gave us no assistance with obtaining our exit visas, despite that being one of the most important parts of her self-written job description.  The documents we’d need, the steps we’d have to take once we’d arrived at the FRRO, even the appointment itself were all arranged by Poonam Jain, a consultant in Delhi who has helped many intended parents leave India with their babies, and someone who had worked in the US consulate for many years.  Thanks to her, we were able to get in and out of the FRRO with our exit visas in about 2 hours.  All we had heard from Kim on this subject were horror stories she’d read about online, which involved couples forced to make multiple trips to the FRRO over several days, and in some cases weeks.  “Try to stay calm and give them whatever they ask for,” comprises the sum of her ‘advice’ to us.

  While we were at the FRRO, we learned that the rules had changed regarding medical visas for surrogacy that required us to register with the FRRO upon our arrival.  We didn’t know this, and because the rule change came so close to our arrival, the FRRO agents allowed us to leave despite this oversight.  I understand that rules can change often, but rules such as these are ones that Kim should have been keeping extremely close track of.  Despite us informing her of these changes, she did not pass this information on to another pair of intended parents, and as a result, they had multiple issues obtaining their exit visas, one of which was caused by this rule change.

Conclusion: Kim would seem to have very little to no influence in India.

  When Johnny died the day before Rhy’s flight to Delhi was set to depart, we sent multiple emails to Kim, the US Consulate, and Dr. Bakshi’s team, pleading with them to save a lock of his hair, or take a handprint or footprint for us, as they would serve to be the only physical link we’d have to his 10 days of life.  We have since learned that the way Indian culture handles the death of a child/infant is much different than the way it is handled here in the US, both from a medical and cultural standpoint.  To judge another culture through the lens of one’s own is the height of ignorance, so I want to make clear that this is NOT what we are doing.  Given that, though, I would presume that one would be hard pressed to find someone, regardless of cultural background, that would find our request unreasonable.  Yet when Kim made our request to Dr. Bakshi and her staff on our behalf, the answer we received is that it simply could not be done.  While we were never told why this was the case, here is what I see this is a symptom of, and the point that I have been building towards for the last 3 pages.

  Kim was a facilitator who was sending intended parents to Dr. Bakshi’s clinic.  In short, Kim was supposedly helping Dr. Bakshi make quite a bit of money.  Kim appeared to only maintain digital lines of communication with her, and did not participate actively in the surrogacies that she was responsible for.  As a result, despite the basis of their relationship, it would seem that Dr. Bakshi did not see her relationship with Kim to be important enough to warrant a departure from the standard procedure, even in the event of a premature infant’s death.

I understand and am fully aware that India is a very different country than the United States, and has a very different way of doing things.  At the same time, advertising yourself as a surrogacy facilitator in a country in which you have no ability to take or influence real actionis, at best, foolhardy.  At worst, it is reckless and dangerous.  Kim boasted to us early on in the process that if we were disappointed in Bakshi in any way, Kim would call her up and ‘read her the Riot Act.’  She claimed that she did this several times over the course of our pregnancy, yet we didn’t see Dr. Bakshi’s or her staff’s behavior change at all over time.  Had Kim actually had any of the influence she claimed to have, she could have prevented the death of our son and the infection of our daughter with an STD.  At the absolute minimum, she could have avoided having a set of grieving parents end up with no physical remembrance of their son, which is one of the worst things for the grieving parents of an infant to have inflicted upon them.  We continue to hope that no set of parents ever experiences anything like this as a result of trusting someone they shouldn’t have.


  1. Horrible, heartbreaking and likely exactly what happened. I almost wish you hadn't summed it up so eloquently. It makes Kim and Bakshi's failure all the more disturbing, to have it spelled out so clearly.

  2. This was heartbreaking to read. I had no idea the challenges that international surrogacy could pose. Thank you for this thoughtful look at the issue of surrogacy in India. I am so sorry for your loss, and that you don't have a lock of hair or footprint to remember your child by. Best wishes to you for a bright future.

    Cynthia @ Tomorrow's Parents International

  3. Thanks for kind words for our Director, Ms. Poonam.
    We are sorry for the loss of Johnny.


Thank you for visiting!