Surrogacy is a powerfully selfless act, but it is not a solo journey. If you’re considering becoming a surrogate mother, a paramount aspect to consider is your support system. Who will have your back during the ups and downs of an often unpredictable process? The benefits of emotional support as a surrogate are countless. We’ll explore exactly what a surrogacy support system entails, as well as why and how how to build your own network of support.
Simply put, a surrogacy support system is a group of people that provide assistance during the surrogacy process. Becoming a surrogate (also referred to as a gestational carrier) is an incredibly unique experience, one that not many people are willing or able to participate in. That makes it very special, but like anything else that is “different,” it may sometimes feel a bit isolating. If no one in your circle of friends or family has been through surrogacy, they may struggle to understand your desire to become a gestational carrier. You might find yourself regularly explaining what is surrogacy and answering questions like “what do you mean it isn’t your baby?” or “will you want to keep it?” And while you may feel completely secure in your decision, conveying that to others is another task entirely.
Some women feel that it’s no one else’s business and carry on without concern of what others think. Still, it’s important for a surrogate to seek out a support system that has her back during the process. This likely includes her partner, who, for legal reasons, must be on board with her decision in order for her to proceed, and perhaps a few close friends or family members. These are the people who will be there for her emotionally, supporting her through the ups and downs of a surrogate pregnancy, and people who make themselves available for assistance; when it comes to childcare or help around the house, it’s crucial to have backup. We often talk about how surrogates are true superheroes, but even superheroes need a sidekick.
Another unique form of surrogacy support comes in the form of other surrogates. Who better to provide support than someone who is or has been in her shoes? While support from family and friends is hugely beneficial, connecting with other surrogates can keep someone motivated like no one else can. At ConceiveAbilities, we are proud of and constantly awed by the surrogate support system that exists amongst our gestational carriers. Whether it is in regular support group meetings or on our exclusive surrogate Facebook page, the love, strength and power these women give to one another on the daily is an inspiration. The culture of support has proven to be an unexpected benefit of committing to a surrogacy journey.
A solid support system can ultimately make all the difference in having a positive surrogacy experience. The benefits of emotional support are plentiful:
· Improves your ability to cope with stressful situations
· Provides a safe space to talk, share and process
· Boosts confidence
· Allows you to feel safe and secure, two things humans seek from birth
Support systems are a major reason we’re able to keep going through challenging times. And while an outside support system is crucial for a successful surrogacy journey, we’re again reminded of the importance of a surrogate-to-surrogate support network.
Just ask a gestational carrier herself. Jolynda, a former surrogate, said that a surrogacy support system means “having a group of people going through the same thing at different (sometimes the same) time that can answer questions, calm fears, listen to vents and still love, support and understand us better than anyone else.”
Another previous surrogate, Michelle, said, “For me it has been a huge group of amazing women that helped me through the roughest times and are cheering me on as the milestones happen.”
A solid support system is just one of many reasons to work with an agency that guides you along your surrogate journey. From match managers to mental health professionals to a legal team, other surrogates, and more, a surrogate agency offers a built in team. Nowhere else can you find that kind of guidance, knowledge and reassurance. The psychological aspects of surrogacy are just as critical as the physical ones, and a responsible agency understands the importance of a holistic experience.
Some agencies provide gestational carriers with support group meetings. Whether they are done in person, via phone or internet chat, these meetings give surrogates the opportunity to connect directly with one another and discuss the emotional and physical logistics, challenges and triumphs of their surrogacy experiences. ConceiveAbilities believes in the importance of these support groups because see firsthand the power of this “surrogate sisterhood.”
“It means caring about people I probably never would have met and knowing that they care for me and hope for the best for me and my journey,” said Brandy, a former surrogate. “It’s a mutual understanding and hoping for the best possible outcomes during these journeys. It’s also knowing that no matter what we go through with surrogacy, we always have someone who understands why we do this.”
Your surrogate agency should provide you with access to this kind of support and can also direct you to other helpful resources on surrogacy, both locally and online. Everything from one-on-one counseling services for you or your family, to connecting you with previous surrogates, to other reputable online sources that can help make your experience as a gestational carrier a positive one.
First, consider what kind of support you might need. Are you seeking physical support, in the form of childcare and help around the house? Or is it emotional support that will help keep you motivated? It may be difficult to know the answer when you’re new to the concept of surrogacy, so working with an agency is strongly encouraged. Selecting the right agency will help you explore any questions and concerns you and your partner might have so that they can offer the best possible support, and this can help you determine who else in your life might be positive members of your surrogacy support team. A good agency will provide you with a built in support system too, and it’s important to utilize those resources.
Take care when exploring online resources, such as online forums. Remember that surrogacy protocol can vary from clinic to clinic and person to person. Information may not be accurate, or may not reflect the landscape of your state or individual situation. As a general rule, online resources independent of your agency should not take the place of the personalized support you’ll receive from your team.
If you’re ready to become a surrogate, we’re eager to assist with not only the best possible intended parent match, but also a powerful network of support. Contact our team to start your unique journey.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.