Shakira was certainly shy and nervous, I imagine because she wanted to impress us and she was worried that she might put a foot wrong. We spoke a little through a translator, saying how beautiful her dress was, then asking about her family and children. She has a daughter aged 11 and a son aged 8 and they were busy at school today.
We were soon joined by Wallid, Shakira’s husband, who had just come from work. He said that he works as a tailor, underneath a designer. We asked if he had made Shakira’s dress and he said that he had, with a proud little smile on his face. We then offered them the gifts which we had agonised over and purchased back in Melbourne. For her youngest son we bought a nice leather cricket ball to make sure we kept up the Indian / Australian sporting rivalry. For her daughter we bought some silver jewellery with a glass pedant from Venice. We offered Wallid his gift, an authentic Swiss Army Knife with all the attachments, inappropriately wrapped in too much ribbon. And finally for Shakira we bought some moisturiser and a scented candle from L’Occitane, with all the associated packaging of an oversized box with potpourri and tissue paper. They wouldn’t open them in front of us, but we hope they went home and enjoyed them.
We asked them what they hoped to do with the money, and Wallid said that he was hoping to start his own family business in tailoring, where he wasn’t forced to work for someone else and where they could better secure the future of their kids. You could tell it meant a lot to them; it was one of those life changing opportunities for them that they weren’t going to squander or waste. I was clear that the opportunity for them to secure a future for their family was just as important to them as having a family is to us. They were as vested in this agreement as we could have wished for.
The lawyer then brought out the legal agreements and, with a video recorder rolling, explain the details of the contract and video-taped us signing it. When Shakira starting signing it in her wonderful Hindi Sanskrit, I noticed that her whole fingertips up to her first knuckle were all painted in red ochre. I asked about it and the lawyer explained that it was a tradition called mhendi, where the woman cover their fingers in henna ink, but it is only for the most auspicious of occasions, usually only reserved for their wedding days.
We had arrived with trepidation and uncertainty, but left feeling secure that the Surrogacy process was being done with integrity, moved that it would make such a difference to their lives and hopeful that we will have a successful pregnancy ahead.