James and Emily haven't made a sound the whole flight! We booked business class seats (treat to ourselves) and we saw the faces of other BC passengers: horror! two babies in BC seemed to scare some passengers lol. After departing the plane some of them came up to us and complemented us with our babes, they were a pleasure to travel!
Our last week was a week of waiting mostly, the HCO was telling us on a daily basis that the passports would be ready the next day, but they never came! On Thursday we decided to just go to the HCO and wait until they had printed them, when we arrived they were already waiting for us to collect them so we were very happy. Friday morning we went to the FRRO and according to Asha, who went along with us, we were the first couple to receive the exit visas within the hour! We were absolutely prepared to wait all day, but we were out of there at 10:20am: with the exit visas! We did some last minute shopping and managed to spend a couple of thousands. Then we went back to the hotel for some sleep but didn't get round to it. There was a big party from an Indian cement company and the music was so loud that even inside we had to scream to hear each other (I am NOT exaggerating here). So, with no sleep at all we left for the airport at 12:01am exactly, our flight was leaving at 5am, but having read all the horror stories other people encountered at the airport we thought it would be best to leave early and just wait in the bc lounge.
And another reason was that we purchased our tickets with my dads creditcard, when we received the email confirmation it stated that we needed to bring the creditcard which was in Holland:( After calling with the airline they told us to bring a copy and a signed letter of the holder of the creditcard which should be enough to get us on board, we didn't feel to sure about it so we wanted extra time for verbal convincing of the officers in charge... we didn't needed any time, and we went sailing through immigration and all the other check points.
Some of the checkpoints took an extra minute because of course we had the question: where is the mother?. I had in mind what the Mikes had told us once; do not elaborate on surrogacy just tell them; I am the father, there is no mother and we have all the stamps from the FRRO. It helped, even though some people glazed a bit weird.
In fact we had a nicer experience leaving the airport with the babes than we had last year when we were just tourist leaving India.
In Istanbul we had some transit time, which was pleasant too, and after that we started the last stretch of our journey home. At Schiphol we did feel a bit stressed, because we didn't have a clue if there would be questions at immigration. To our surprise there was just one remark: congratulations with the twins. That was the first officer since leaving the hotel who had only said one thing and that one thing was so nice to hear.
Our luggage was already waiting for us so after leaving the plane we passed immigration within 15 minutes (record time for us anyways).
Grammy, Omi, Bompa, aunties, closest friends were waiting for us and we started to cry once again:) It was enormous to finally be with our loved ones, we had stress at times in Mumbai with regards to the paperwork, so we felt so incredible relieved that everything went so well.
We had drinks at the airport, got presents for the babes (yah, unwrapping has started!) and left to get home.
Our parents had put up signs with: Hoera, een jongen! and Hoera, een meisje! (boy/girl), on the inside they went over the top which we enjoyed BIG TIME!
A and I were nackered and went to bed around 10, and Omi (my mother) would do the night shift with Bompa (my dad), which was wonderful because this way we could catch a good night sleep, so we did.
Today we had champagne, more gifts and the pleasure of seeing James and Emily in their cots.
It's overwhelming when you experience that moment, it really feels as if everything comes together with these little simple things.
For all of us who had a different route to become parents, it really feels so rewarding when you finally see your own bundle of joy in your own house, in their own room, with people who care about them surrounding them. And as Asha said, surro babies are the most whished for children.
Next Sunday we're having a Meet & Greet James & Emily for friends and family, so this gives us some time to get into a routine first.
Now why did it take us four weeks to sort out the papers? Certainly not because of the Indian authorities, but awkwardly because of the British authority.
The thing is, we are in fact the first couple ever to have used a widow/single surrogate. The HCO and the Home Office just didn't know how to apply the rules. At first they were strict in using the normal surrogacy rules (asking for the papers of the husband (but he passed away: 'still, we need them'), then they asked for her marriage certificate (we did have the death certificate) but our clinic did not have that and this was the moment things got a bit ugly.
When we went first to the HCO we thought we did all our homework, all the prep work they could ever ask for, and we still feel that way. To our surprise however, they wanted proof that she was married to her husband.
Since our surrogate was muslim she never registrated her marriage, (why didn't the clinic just state that she was single 'cause then we never would have had all these questions).
In the end, it meant that our surrogate had to be interviewed, the clinic had an interview with the HCO and after that we got the 'all clear'!
Babes are screaming so later more!