A few different feelings and thoughts went through my head, almost simultaneously. First, relief. Thank goodness to know I wasn’t imagining things. They didn’t like me either, and I was almost happy to know I wouldn’t have to work with them. Second, following immediately on the heels of relief, was indignation. What do you MEAN they don’t want to work with me? What’s wrong with ME, that they think they’re so great and can pass over me like I’m not good enough? Third, a little bit of despair and sadness… what IS wrong with me? Why didn’t they like me? And finally, regret at the thought my surrogate journey was over before it even got started. Six months of applications and essays and psych tests and physical screenings and interviews and now ….. I’m done, and I didn’t get to carry so much as a suitcase for someone else, let alone a baby.
I said as much to the counselor on the phone, “Wow. That’s pretty discouraging. I, uh, I don’t know what to say. Um, I’m sorry? Because they didn’t like me? Or, sorry for letting you down?” Truly, I was a little bewildered because this just wasn’t supposed to happen. The social worker had told us previously that while yes, occasionally match meetings didn’t go well, it was almost always the surrogate not wanting to work with a couple. Maybe they just seemed different in person than she expected (hello? Sounding familiar?) but that couples are normally so excited to meet the person who can hopefully help them, they are usually thrilled to be moving forward and can’t say yes quickly enough. Plus, I think it was a point of pride to the social worker, after she put the time and effort into presenting the right girls to the right couples, and vice versa. Not that couples NEVER turned down a surrogate …. It wasn’t like this was the first time in their agency’s history this had happened, but she said on the phone to me --- pretty grimly --- it doesn’t happen often, and she wasn’t too happy about it.
In fact, she was downright annoyed on my behalf. Come to find out, the couple had only one reason for not wanting to work with me. Not because they thought I was weird, or crazy, or diametrically opposed to their personal ideas and expectations …. But because Blaine was in the military. And not even because he was in the military (and they were Clinton-loving liberals if you ever saw any) but because … are you ready for this? We were slated to move the next summer, and didn’t know yet where we were going. They were convinced that Blaine was going to be sent to some God-forsaken third world country, and I would be forced to go with him (they obviously didn’t understand the concept of “remote” “unaccompanied” assignments) and that I would have to give birth to their baby in a rice paddy or cave in the desert with no medical attention and then guerilla insurgents would steal the baby and take it to live in a compound somewhere.
Um, yeah. O.K.
We had actually spoken to the social worker about this at great length, the fact we didn’t know where we would be stationed next. Believe it or not, there are a few states where surrogacy is illegal, and the agency needed to be sure I wouldn’t wind up there. Not that THAT would even have been the end of the world, just that I would have had to go someplace else to deliver the baby.
But even that was a moot point, because we knew we were moving one of two places, depending on Blaine’s acceptance (or not) to an advanced military school, and both of those places were on the “good” surrogacy list. We had already done our research, and double-checked, and triple-checked. Although the social worker tried to reassure this couple that their scenario, me being captured by terrorist pirates and the baby and I sold into white slavery bondage, or whatever, was NOT going to happen, they weren’t hearing any of it.
Bottom line, Blaine being in the military freaked them out, and nothing the social worker said could change their mind. (Please note that this was actually BEFORE 9/11, and the Iraq War, and our country was honestly in a very stable military situation at that time. Can you imagine if I’d actually been matched with this couple, and nine months later the Twin Towers had been attacked? It gives me hives just to imagine their reaction.)
Actually, you know what? I was glad. Sorry that they were so ignorant about the workings of the military, but glad that it worked out in my favor. Surrogate relationships are doomed to fail if both couples don’t have a healthy respect for the other couple’s way of life …. And no way could I be matched with a couple who was so suspicious of our military lifestyle. I mean, it’s not like they didn’t like our dog, or the car we drove, or my taste in clothing. Being a military family is what we WERE, and if they couldn’t get behind that, there was no way this would work. So really, I was relieved.
But sad, too, to know I’d been knocked out of the running by someone so uneducated, and unwilling to listen, about the military.
Then my social worker snapped me out of my funk …. “Are you kidding me?” she said, still indignant on my behalf, “This isn’t over … you’re not done. We’re going to set up a meeting with the other couple, the couple you wanted to meet in the first place. I completely mis-read the first couple and to be honest, they blind-sided me as well. But you’re going to meet the other couple, and it’s going to be fabulous. I promise.”
And so I crossed my fingers, and hoped she was right, and agreed to fly back to Maryland with Blaine the next Saturday (ah, geez …. MORE begging for overnight babysitting from my friends) and meet couple number two.