Synopses & Reviews
A touching and surprising memoir about one woman's journey to motherhood and family that illustrates the power of love and triumph of the human spirit.
After three heartbreaking losses, Adrienne Arieff thought her dreams of becoming a mother might never come true. She and her husband soon discovered, however, that parenthood was still possible, but it would require a gift from a perfect stranger, faith and determination. Half a world away, in a small village in India, Vaina was happily married with three small children, but with little means to support her family or to build a better life.
So Adrienne traveled to Anand, in a remote rural pocket of India near the Pakistani border, where the Akansksha clinic is located, to meet with Dr. Nayna Patel, an expert in surrogacy. There, Adrienne met Vaina, who courageously agreed to be a surrogate and carry Adrienne's child, an act which would, in turn, help Vaina to provide for her own children. After a course of IVF in India, Adrienne's role was just beginning in a process that as yet has no firm set of social mores. Unlike many genetic moms who return to their homes and wait for their baby to be born, Adrienne couldn't bear to have this pregnancy progress without her. She wanted to feel a connection both to her growing child and to Vaina, the woman who was offering this remarkable gift. So Adrienne decided to go back to Anand, to be Vaina's partner for the last months of her pregnancy. This choice brought its own heartaches and revelations, chief among them, how do you develop a relationship when you don't share a language or culture? But somehow these two mothers, united by a shared goal, found that within weeks, they could say anything and everything with just one look, one squeeze of the hand, one smile.
Poignant, eye-opening, and bittersweet, The Sacred Thread is a memoir of the astonishing journey these two young women took to create a family through international surrogacy. It is the very personal story of embarking upon this process, and shedding light on a growing medical trend that is often shrouded in misconception and prejudice. But, more importantly, The Sacred Thread is a tale of immersing oneself in a foreign culture and foreign land; becoming part of a group of expectant mothers, bonded by their hope for children, and following them on the euphoric highs and crushing lows of their journey; and the development of a deep bond between women who have absolutely nothing in common, except for a shared love of family and children.
"In this rather rosy account of employing an Indian fertility clinic in order to conceive, a San Francisco media specialist constantly returns to the question: is surrogacy an opportunity for Third World mothers or exploitation? Arieff and her lawyer husband were well off, in their mid-30s, and desperate for children of their own after several miscarriages. Fearful of the legal snags of surrogacy in America, as well as the inflated costs, Arieff and her husband enlisted the services of the Oprah-approved Akanksha Infertility Clinic, in the northern small rural town of Anand, Gujarat, run by the charismatic, capable Dr. Nayna Patel. After a round of hormone shots, Arieff and her husband supplied the necessary egg and sperm to be fertilized in vitro and implanted in the surrogate, Vaina, a married mother of three from a nearby rural village. Twins were successfully conceived and over the latter course of Vaina's pregnancy, Arieff returned to Anand, where the surrogate mothers live at the clinic, and provided gifts and company to Vaina, who showed little ambition to better her life and evidently gave her money and gifts to her husband and brother-in-law. In her breezy, upbeat narrative, Arieff does try to show both sides of the surrogacy equation, depicting the long-suffering, well-intentioned Western women who nevertheless can pay for the 'Surrogacy Camp,' and the impoverished, uneducated women under patriarchal strictures that consider surrogacy a form of prostitution. For Arieff, the birth of her healthy girls far outweighed the ethical dilemma." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
ADRIENNE ARIEFF, an expert in new media and communications, is the principal of the public relations firm Arieff Communications. She has freelanced for Daily Candy and C Magazine and writes her company's blog, Weekly Pulse. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and their two children.