Lisa Ray needs no introduction. She is one of the strongest women Bollywood has seen, not only through her roles, but also in real life. The actress has fought cancer and come out stronger, now becoming a mother to twins.
“My life at the moment is full of cascading emotions, attempting to coordinate feeding, napping and play schedules while juggling work, self care, travel and time with friends, family and my hubby.
My life has been full of crazy adventures but right now I’m experiencing a new level of anarchy- and love. When I was younger, becoming a mother was never my plan. But so many things in my life have been unplanned- both the most fulfilling and the most challenging- so when the desire for children grew after I met and married my soul mate Jason Dehni, it frankly caught me by surprise. Every new phase of life challenges my openness and the ability to adapt with each new experience.
Our daughters, Sufi and Soleil Ray-Dehni were born via surrogate in Tbilisi, Georgia this June. It’s been an arduous and interesting experience.
Having been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer, in 2009 which requires me to be on a lifelong dose of medication pre-empted the possibility for me to carry children myself. Fortunately technology has progressed where there are choices and new possibilities for having children. My husband and I decided to pursue surrogacy. India was the obvious choice. We consulted a reputed fertility doctor but a week before we could begin, India outlawed commercial surrogacy. We were crushed. While I understand the pressing need to regulate the industry and prevent exploitation of surrogate mothers, it was a case of –literally- throwing out the baby with the bath water. But I am nothing if not determined.
My husband and I were advised we could continue the process in India, there were ‘ways’ but we did not want to bring our children into the world under a cloud of uncertainty.
And so we began a tough, at times frustrating journey. We hired an agency to help, had an unsuccessful attempt in Mexico, and spent a lot of money, emotional resources and sleepless nights. But as a cancer survivor, I believe firmly in overcoming the odds. And with my husband’s support and a few close friends sometimes that mean shutting off people who say ‘you can’t’ and focusing on the faith that it’s possible- not easy- but possible. Finally we settled on the country of Georgia, where the surrogacy process is legal, transparent, regulated and overall a beneficial process for both sides.
We relocated to Tbilisi, Georgia, for the birth for a few months. We choose to name our girls Sufi- the mystic- and Soleil- the French word for ‘sun’.
I used to worry having kids would slow me down, or define me, but I’ve put those old beliefs to bed. My husband and I are becoming parents in our mid-40s which is also unconventional, but the right time for us. I will teach my girls to be resilient, strong, open, and that they can achieve anything they set their hearts on. There are no boundaries except the ones in our minds and children have no ideas of what you can and cannot achieve. Bringing up the next generation to be kind is the greatest chance we have for a better future. (I can’t resist whispering in their tiny ears- ‘The Future is Female!’)
I can’t wait to bring our daughters to our home in Mumbai.
I love to see Jason with them, growing into his new role as a father, holding them, changing diapers on the weekend, with a burp cloth I got him which is embroidered with ‘Men Who Change Diapers, Change the World’.
I wanted to share our intimate story because I believe there is a lot of misunderstanding about surrogacy and the reasons some people choose to do it. I wanted to share our struggle and triumph.
Having been open about my cancer journey and received so much unconditional support, sharing this moment of happiness feels right. Hopefully our story can give hope to others struggling to have kids. Life throws you both challenges and miracles and I’m unspeakably grateful for my miracle daughters.”