BECOMING A SURROGATE: Ways to Help Your Family Adjust
Becoming a gestational surrogate is a big decision. Helping your family be comfortable with the idea is a big part of a successful surrogacy.
In previous blog posts, we’ve mentioned the importance of having support from your family upon your decision to become a surrogate mother. The approval of your family is crucial to a successful surrogacy — your spouse/partner and your children should be as comfortable with the decision as you are.
Even when your family is 100% on-board and supportive of the decision, your choice to be a gestational surrogate is in some ways as important for them as it is for you.
Here are some tips for helping them adjust.
TALK IT OUT.
Far in advance of actually making a decision, speak frankly with your spouse or partner about the adventure you’re thinking about embarking on. You have a strong desire to help another family — be certain that they not only understand that desire, but share it. If they don’t, solicit their feelings and be sensitive to their point of view on the subject. After all, your being a surrogate is going to affect their life enormously, and pregnancy means work for a spouse or partner too, with medical checkups, travel (if necessary) to meet with intended parents and other obligations. Your husband or partner needs to know that there are restrictions on intercourse after birth, and in some cases during pregnancies as well. And no matter how healthy and well-managed the pregnancy, health risks do exist which everyone involved must be comfortable with.
Also, it’s important to recognize that other family members may factor into the decision to become a surrogate, and merit consultation. Only you know who else in your family is important to the decision based on your personal family dynamics. If you feel, for example, that your parent(s) are an important part of this decision, make sure to involve them early on. It will be a big disappointment if you make the decision to proceed and later discover that an important family member is strongly against it, impacting your ability or commitment to proceed.
DEAL WITH INSECURITIES BY USING FACTS.
Occasionally, a husband or male partner will become insecure at the notion of his wife/partner carrying “another man’s baby.” Remind him that this is a gestational surrogacy —there is no genetic tie to you or to your husband/partner. Stress that you are entering into this jointly, to help a couple in need, as well as for your own family’s benefit. Explain that it is precisely because your own family relationship is so solid and fulfilling that you want others to experience the happiness of family life too.
GIVE KIDS CREDIT.
Your own children will want to know what’s going on and deserve to. Don’t leave them out of the discussion. You certainly won’t be able to hide a pregnancy from them, nor should you. The good news is that kids are far more accepting of most things than we may think. And the children of surrogates have much to learn from the experience and to be proud of.
BE TRUTHFUL AND ACCURATE.
Explain to children that mommies carry babies in their wombs and that the intended mother’s womb just isn’t working — so you are simply helping another mother by carrying her baby for her until it is born. Or if you are helping a male couple or a single man, it is even easier to explain why you’re needed.
DON’T CREATE EXPECTATIONS INADVERTENTLY.
Be absolutely certain your child is aware that the baby you’re carrying is not yours, is not
“a little brother or sister,” and won’t be coming home from the hospital with you. It is “another family’s baby.” With toddlers and pre-schoolers, you may have to have this conversation more than once during the pregnancy, but most surrogates report that children are completely comfortable with this explanation. In any case, you will know the language that is appropriate to help your child understand what it is you are doing, why, and for whom.
REASSURE YOUR CHILDREN OFTEN.
Most women who become gestational surrogates truly love being pregnant, or they wouldn’t choose to be surrogates in the first place. This obvious fact can cause children to mistakenly get the idea that a surrogate mother loves the baby she is carrying more than she loves them. Reassure them early and often that this is not the case, and that this pregnancy is simply a wonderful and generous service you are performing for another family who cannot do it themselves. It’s a gift that, as a family, you are giving together.