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M(OTHER) By Antonia Hugerland

Not long after I had started my company in 2016, I got an email from a woman in Germany. Her name was Saskia Veigel. She wrote to ask if she could speak with me about my company, telling me that she was a director who wanted to feature surrogacy in a documentary they were filming. Initially I was a bit standoffish and expressed my disinterest. I was so used to the misconceptions in Europe of surrogacy and I didn’t want to be a part of any tailspin that occurred from a taboo issue in Germany where it wasn’t even legal.

Saskia was persistent and asked for a phone call. She wasn’t giving up. Her tenacity was a familiar trait, so I reluctantly agreed. One call with her and a date was set for the film crew to come to Canada and follow my family around for two weeks.  Little did I know I would build a lifelong friendship with Saskia. She and I just clicked and the kids and I loved having the crew as guests in our home. The neighbours were phoning and asking why there were camera people outside my home. I reassured them no Hollywood Stars were coming – just little old me.

After hours and hours of filming my family, my work-day, and a day in the life of my surrogates, we all agreed the group of film makers would come back in the spring of 2017 to film the birth of Tina’s surrogate baby, a dear friend of mine who was a surrogate.

The entire project start to finish was an amazing experience. I was honoured to get to know such kind people who genuinely were interested in my company and the beauty of surrogacy. I was truly sad to see them leave.

The premise of the film was to showcase what a traditional Mother used to look like and what it looks like today. It included many different forms of parents, families, and ways of building your family, including adoption and surrogacy.

The kids kept asking me, “Mom when are we going to see the movie we were in?” I would laugh and say, “Oh, one day it’ll be finished.”

That day came in Fall 2018, exactly two years from when they came to Canada the first time.  I got an email inviting me to come to Leipzig, Germany for the opening of the documentary. I took a whole three hours to decide I was going half way across the world for the event.

I was terrified, and utterly excited when I boarded a plane in London, Ontario on October 31 and flew to Toronto, Munich, then finally Berlin – all by myself. Saskia picked me up at the airport and hosted me the entire week I was there. I wanted to see everything! I visited my Intended Parents Hannes and Shay and they toured me around Potsdam country, which was beyond beautiful. We ate the most amazing foods and Saskia took me to every war museum and monument that we could fit into our schedule.

Opening day of the documentary was sold out! It was so surreal seeing my kids and I up on the big screen from two years earlier. I so wish they had been with me to watch it, but that was a big trip for those little babes.

I got to stand up in front of the crowd with some of the other participants, and answer questions about my business, my family, and being a surrogate – all in English with someone translating! The film has since been shown in Montreal. I have hopes that when Saskia comes back to visit us in 2020, she will be bringing a copy of the documentary with her so we can have our own small showing here. The kids are anxious to see it and they’ve told all their friends they are famous!

When your first instinct is to toss aside what may seem like a negative experience, keep in mind that adventures are all around us just waiting to happen.

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