A Surrogacy Story from Adrienne Arieff

March 21, 2012

In 2008, I traveled nine thousand miles to northern India to make my dream of having a baby come true. There, at the world renowned Akansha clinic in Anana, I under went IVF and met Vaina, the woman who would bring my husband and my twins girls into this world through surrogacy. It was a wild and wonderful experience, one that I undertook after three heartbreaking miscarriages.

I had been exploring all the options from adoption to surrogacy to remaining childless, when my husband read an article about the Akansha clinic run by the fertility specialist Dr. Patel in the New York Times. I was very familiar with India after having traveled extensively in the country after my mother died a few years prior. There was something beautiful about going back and trying to find life after the loss I had experienced. I spoke with Dr. Patel on the phone and decided to go. There, in the 107 degree heat of Indian summer, I discovered that parenthood was possible, but it would require a gift from a perfect stranger.

Vaina was already a parent when she decided to help me become one. A woman who becomes a surrogate at Akansha moves into the clinic and lives there for the duration of fertility treatment and pregnancy. This is as much to ensure the good health of the babies as it is to protect Vaina from a culture that considers surrogacy a form of adultery. For 26-year-old Vaina, this was a path to a better life for her family. Her surrogate’s fee was the equivalent of ten year’s salary and allowed her husband to launch his own business.

In Anand, I formed a deep bond with Vaina  and her family that I maintain today. I travel once a year to see her and keep her up to date about “our” girls, Emma and India. What she did for me is the most generous act I could have ever imagined.

Originally, I was writing a journal for the girls to have a document for them so they knew how much we went through to have them. I soon realized a book might be a good idea as many women started to contact me about foreign adoption and surrogacy. I turned my journal into a book titled The Sacred Thread. I hope my book offers inspiration and help to those who may be considering alternative – and extremely fulfilling – ways to have a child.

From Adrienne Arieff.

P.S. — Here’s a VBAC story from Stephanie.

Note from Design Mom: throughout my 6th pregnancy, I posted reader-submitted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family. My baby is hardly a baby anymore — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at gabrielle@designmom.com.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KeAnne March 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

Congratulations on your children and the book. I had my son through domestic gestational surrogacy in 2009. It was an amazing journey, and I am forever humbled that there are women generous enough to help make dreams come true.


2 The New Diplomats Wife March 21, 2012 at 9:06 am

wow – that’s an amazing story. and interestingly, there was an article not too long ago (I think in LA Times) about what they were calling “the outsourcing of baby having” to India as the cost can be effective, and the environment controlled as your contributor suggests. Apparently some women have done this multiple times after having had their own children. And some couples have found a lot of hardship as they get closer to delivery, though that can happen in any circumstance. In any case, here is the article, certainly very thought provoking: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/18/world/la-fg-india-surrogacy-20110418/2


3 The New Diplomats Wife March 21, 2012 at 9:09 am

incidentally, the comment above was not meant to be negative, just bringing to light some of what’s been recently written since i personally found it incredibly interesting.


4 Anne March 21, 2012 at 9:17 am

Oof. I have mixed feelings about this.
I am happy for you that you now have your dearly wished for children.
I do not want to judge, but your story left a few questions. You wrote: “Vaina was already a parent when she decided to help me become one. A woman who becomes a surrogate at Akansha moves into the clinic and lives there for the duration of fertility treatment and pregnancy. This is as much to ensure the good health of the babies as it is to protect Vaina from a culture that considers surrogacy a form of adultery. Her surrogate’s fee was the equivalent of ten year’s salary and allowed her husband to launch his own business. For 26-year-old Vaina, this was a path to a better life for her family.” Could Vaina live in the clinic with her own children and her husband or did she have to stay there on her own? When being a surrogate mother somehow alienates or stigmatizes a woman and/or her family in the indian society, how do Vaina and her family deal with this situation that is surely noticed by their environment (absence of the mother for 9 months, sudden financial possibilities)?
Please excuse my curiosity. I really do not intend to be overly critical and hope that you don´t take offense.


5 Shannon { A Mom's Year } March 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

Adrienne, I think it’s wonderful of you to share your story of surrogacy. And brave, too. You have created something very meaningful out of your experience that I’m sure will help others. Blessings to you and your family, and to Vaina and her family, too.


6 michelle a March 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

Bravo to Gabby for including all these types of birthing stories. Human life is truly a miracle.

And bravo to you too Adrienne – I think it speaks volumes to be tenacious and faithful in your quest of becoming a mother through surrogacy. I’m sure your girls will appreciate what you went through to get them here. What a wonderful story!


7 patricia engle March 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I read all of the stories above and I praise each and everyone of you and the mothers that helped out. You all have had such a journey that a normal woman like myself never had to go through. I have 2 grown daughters I never had any problems getting pregnant. Gabby Thank You so much for finding these wonderful stories of the bravery this women have went through. Hats of to all


8 tn March 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Not sure if everyone knows but surrogacy in France is not legal. They consider it a form of human traffic. I am friends with a male gay couple who did surrogacy in the US to have their child and think its wonderful when done properly. Meaning no ones rights are violated.


9 Tina Z March 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I am getting close to making the same call, surrogacy. I have a hard time finding first hand accounts of the actual process, though. Thanks for sharing!!!


10 cate johnson March 21, 2012 at 9:18 pm

What a beautiful touching story! I would love to read her book! Thank you for sharing!


11 Toni March 22, 2012 at 4:54 am

I am a little uncomfortable with this, as well. Not with surrogacy, but with surrogacy in a third world country where a woman is separated from her own children and family. Yes, it gives her opportunities that she would not have otherwise, but at what cost (literally)? It harkens back to colonial times for me. Even if the surrogate mother is doing it on “her own accord.” Thank you for sharing your story and giving me some food for thought.


12 michelle March 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm

What an amazing story!


13 adrienne arieff March 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thank you for letting me share my experience of becoming a mother on
designmom.com. Thanks Gabrielle!


14 remi October 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm

well the whole thing just brings tears to my eyes! its just wonderful. I can understand that its the most heartwrenching of experiences to want to have a child and for some strange reasons just cant ,so i understand deeply what a woman wuldnt do to have children of her own. Bless you for sharing and i hope you cook beans for the twins! in my country we have to cook a special bean meal for twins! congratulations!


15 Celine October 7, 2014 at 6:48 am

Hello, girls! I also realize the problem of infertility. I had PCOS that I tried to fight with. I did so many attempts. During several years I had a hope. I consulted different doctors, but the result was not optimistic. The disease didn’t go away. However the dream to have children was getting stronger and stronger. Then after five years we decided to use assisted reproductive technologies. It was one of the most difficult. During all the time I tried to pull myself together. I tried to be patient. I gathered all my strength and realized that this was a long process. However, I remember the more you wish the more you get. I tried to be sure and confident about my decision. I didn’t have any doubts. Of course, after our decision to use the reproductive program we faced a lot of problems. A lot of questions appeared. We saw amount of information about different clinics on the Internet. Concerning the countries I must say that it was really difficult for me to decide where we should use this program. I am from Italy. All surrogacy arrangements are prohibited here. After all discussions with my husband we decided to go to Ukraine. That country seemed the best for us for surrogacy. First of all it is a European country. Then there are a lot of healthy donors and surrogates mothers. We looked for the appropriate clinics. It was very hard to choose. There are really different clinics in Ukraine. Some of them gave guarantee, some of them not. I am sure that guarantee is a really great thing. You can have unlimited attempts. In general we read different comments written by other people. We looked through the web sites of clinics. I had time compared the information and found the best option for me. We decided to go to BioTexCom. We don’t regret about our choice at all. We had all inclusive package with unlimited attempts. The whole package contained meals, accommodation, transfer and of course, all the analyses. We just had to pay 30 000 euro for everything. Now we have beautiful twins. We had a very nice surrogate mother. I am very grateful to all the medical staff and doctors from Biotexcom that helped us to become parents.


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