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.

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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.