Since deciding on gestational surrogacy to become parents, Josh and I researched our options and chose to work with the Rotunda Clinic in Mumbai, India, to start our family. For a complicated series of reasons (health insurance, employer policies, etc.), we’ve decided to use my genetic material this time around with surrogacy. If we do surrogacy again in a couple years, we’ll likely use Josh’s genetic material that time around.
The clinic e-mailed us with requests for my health history, as well as lab results to determine sperm motility and HIV status before the process continues to the next stage. Most insurance plans won’t cover surrogacy-related expenses unless you can document infertility through a series of physician visits, so these costs will likely be out-of-pocket.
Working with an international surrogacy agency further complicates things, as my insurance company won’t contribute to a procedure that isn’t billable to a U.S. healthcare provider. These tests can get expensive, but in the grand scheme of things, it seems necessary to just bite the bullet and hope that the insurance claim submissions will be approved.
On Friday, as requested by the clinic in Mumbai, I took a trip to my urologist in Manhattan to get a lab referral for a routine semen analysis and urogenital culture. She’s a fantastic physician and totally on board with our decision to attempt surrogacy. She sent me to Quest Diagnostics at 944 Park Avenue to complete the exams. The procedures requested weren’t considered advanced in nature, so an appointment wasn’t required, at least according to the referral slip.
But, after arriving at the lab 20 minutes after my urology appointment, I was told that the earliest appointment slot would be in 11 days. I explained that the referral slip (printed by this exact lab in bulk) specifically noted that walk-ins were accepted. After pointing that out, and a bit of patient reasoning with the guy behind the front desk, an exception to the rule was made and I was given a clipboard and some paperwork to fill out. (The squeaky wheel gets the grease….)
I don’t know what I was expecting from a fertility lab, but I was led into a tiny room in what was once the coat closet of a very wealthy person’s Park Avenue mansion. There was a sink, a chair, a table with a stack of crusty, crinkled Playboy magazines, a tiny TV with a VCR cassette featuring a film from the 1990s, the nature of which you can probably guess, and a large bottle of Purell.
Now, as a gay man, I can tell you that what was provided in the room was doing absolutely nothing for me. I wasn’t about to even go near the magazines (I can’t imagine how many previous tenants have flipped through them).
The whole experience was a bit bizarre and awkward. I could hear other people entering the building right outside of my closet, making it even more awkward. I accomplished what was required and got out of there as quickly as I could.
The third and final stop of the day was at my internal medicine physician for a referral for the required blood work. Rotunda Clinic requires tests for HBsAg, HCV, VDRL, HIV (1+2) antibody, HIV PCR, and a blood Rh typing. I took the referral to the Quest labs on 57th Street in Midtown, had three vials of blood taken, and was out of there within an hour.
All of the results should take about a week to process. My urologist and my internal medicine physicians will forward the emailed results directly to the clinic in Mumbai to add to our file.
And now, we wait….