Talking to People About Surrogacy
Becoming a surrogate is a tough decision that can ultimately end with bringing in good for people who cannot have children. Choosing to begin this journey means you’ll probably have to have difficult conversations with those closest to you. If you’re struggling with how to talk to the people in your life about becoming a surrogate, Emily Westerfield, an active GC and Gift of Life Surrogacy Agency’s Director of Surrogacy Engagement and Matching, is sharing how she had these conversations.
When speaking to your children about being a surrogate, you want to ensure you explain it to them in a way they can understand. For example, with younger children, they understand that a toy breaks and cannot be used anymore. I explain to my children that the IM’s belly broke and cannot be used anymore, so mommy is going to help her grow her baby until he/she is ready to come out to the world and then they can take him/her home. I explain it’s not our baby, the IM is just borrowing mommy’s belly because it works to help grow their baby.
For surrogates who have multiple children, it’s also important to explain to them that none of them are being given away. It may seem silly, but for my daughter (who’s the oldest of my three), she saw me pregnant with my first son and bring him home, then pregnant with my next son and bring him home, but then pregnant with my first surrobaby and I didn’t bring her home; I gave her away to someone else. So my children need to understand that mommy and daddy are not giving them away, but that I was helping this other family grow and take care of their baby so they could bring him/her home. We have three children, so it’s important to us for them to know they are ours forever.
When I spoke to my husband about wanting to become a carrier for the first time, he thought I was crazy! I got nos for months – which is very normal – because he didn’t understand the process. He was scared of the unknown. After all, he was the one who was going to have to take care of me (and our children, if I wasn’t able) throughout the next 10+ months. Aside from the long pregnancy, there is so much more involved prior to the embryo transfer that spouses need to be aware of and sometimes part of. For instance, spouses of carriers need to have background checks, drug screens, STD testing, they will miss days of employment, sometimes the carriers need to have procedures done prior to the ET that she’ll need support or a driver that day, delivery, etc. Having a support system is so important (try and stress that). When speaking to a spouse, be sure to educate yourself first. Do research! Lots and lots of research! Utilize Google, join a support group, speak to someone who has done it before, etc. Then come to your spouse fully educated so you can both understand what this journey entails. You won’t know everything, but you’ll have much more clarity and understand what to expect if you do.
When speaking to friends and family, most will be supportive, and telling friends and family about this decision is also very exciting. Make sure when you are telling them that you are educating them at the same time. A majority of people don’t understand the process and all that’s involved, so it’s hard for others to understand why someone would want to give up (at least) a year of their life for a complete stranger (in most cases). By educating them and helping them understand, it’s a much smoother and happier conversation. Of course, you will also encounter friends and family who might not be supportive of this decision. It could be because of incompetence, religious beliefs, morals, etc. Not everyone will understand, and let me also be honest – THAT’S OKAY! You just need to be okay with the understanding that not everyone supports every decision you make in your life. As long as you and your spouse support each other and are ready to move forward, that should be the most important part.
If you’re still struggling or need more guidance, please don’t hesitate to email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not medical advice, so if you have medical-related questions, please contact your doctor.