How Becoming a Surrogate Impacts Relationships
Surrogacy isn’t just a choice you make for yourself, it’s a choice that impacts your relationships with other people. Most times it will be positive, but other times people may have confusion or misconceptions about it. Here, we’ll discuss the various ways that becoming a surrogate can impact your relationships and how to manage them.
Your Significant Other
For many surrogates-to-be, the first person they’ll discuss their decision with is their partner or significant other. Surrogacy requires a serious conversation with your partner. Some partners may be concerned about the physical risks, the financial considerations, or perhaps the conversations that may ensue with friends and family that know little about surrogacy. If your significant other is not supportive it will be much harder to get through the surrogacy journey. Typically, given enough time and research, your significant other will become supportive and understand your desire to become a surrogate.
Once your partner is on board, you may encounter some challenges along the way. Initially, your regular routine and responsibilities will change. Your spouse may be required to take on more of the chores and responsibilities as you focus on a healthy pregnancy. Because you will be restricted from engaging in certain labor-intensive activities, your spouse may have to take care of cleaning the house, cooking dinner for the family, or picking up the children from school. Keep in mind that changes are inevitable, but it can also be a new chapter in your relationship- one that is founded on trust and responsibility, and thrives on hope and love.
The best part about being in a relationship as a surrogate, is the sense of solidarity and trust the two of you will develop. Raising a child can bring out the best in some parents, and raising a child for another family is no different. Sure, there will be some challenging times, but on the whole, it’s an exciting new adventure that you can take with your partner.
Here’s what you should do:
- Have a long, thoughtful conversation. Allow the other person enough time to speak. Research it together. Communication is key in any relationship, and that especially holds true in choosing surrogacy.
- Ask your partner for help. You could try being a surrogate alone, but it would be challenging. Asking for assistance and support will help make the pregnancy more comfortable.
- Find time to spend with each other. Even while you’re pregnant, don’t forget to go on dates, watch a movie, and attend doctor appointments as a couple. Doing things together will help cultivate your relationship, even if you both have restrictions on your regular routines.
Your Parents and Siblings
We’ve had surrogates in the past discuss the varying degrees of their parents’ approval. For surrogate Leslie Mattern, she found that each member of her family had vastly different reactions. In an interview with ConceiveAbilities, she said:
“My mom was really concerned something would go wrong (...) She was a lot more vocal about it than I expected her to be, so that was kind of hard. But she came around by the end of it, and this time she’s totally on board and super excited. She asks me all these questions all the time. My dad didn’t really care- he’s just a dad. He was like, “okay whatever you want.” My brother was totally grossed out by it, but he still supports my decisions. Other than that everyone’s super supportive.”
Some surrogates’ parents come from a time when surrogacy was not well understood or may not have even existed as an option.They may still hold misconceptions or biases regarding the process.
Just remember that everyone accepts new developments in their own time, including your own family. If you stay patient and help them understand, they may come to learn about surrogacy as the altruistic, loving act that it is today. Surrogacy can be a great bonding process with your family involved. Not only are you helping educate your family, but you can all walk through the surrogacy journey as a team. The feeling can be exhilarating.
Here’s what to do:
- Spark their curiosity. Instead of ignoring or arguing, encourage your parents to become curious about surrogacy. This may include forwarding articles on surrogacy, or sharing the stories of the intended parents.
- Be patient. Some parents need time to adjust and learn about surrogacy, so be understanding. There may be some instances where it would be wiser to give them space and to come to their own conclusion rather than prodding them towards one.
Explaining surrogacy to your children can be its own unique challenge. Children in their teens may be more understanding, but younger children require some guidance.
Younger children struggle to understand the concept of pregnancy. Some may even rely on a more conventional story of how children are created, such as the stork or “when a mommy and daddy love each other.”
Perhaps the most confusing part is why the baby won’t be coming home with them. Children will likely have a multitude of questions, and the responsibility falls upon you to answer them honestly, while being sensitive to their age and intellectual limits.
Despite the challenges, teaching your children about surrogacy also helps educate them about other aspects in life. For one, it helps provide a more progressive, more nuanced version of a family, as opposed to the versions they are accustomed to on TV. This kind of understanding is sometimes lacking with younger audiences. Moreover, surrogacy can help children become more giving and altruistic themselves, realizing their duty and ability to serve those less fortunate.
Here’s what you can do:
- Read children’s books on surrogacy. Even if they are older than the book’s recommended reading age, these books manage to frame the concept of surrogacy in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way.
- Speak respectfully. Parents may talk down to their children because of their age, while others forget that they are young and still learning. Instead of treating them like adults, or treating them like children, simply treat them respectfully. Entertain your child’s questions with maturity and seriousness, while remembering to keep the language simple.
- Get them involved. In addition to asking questions, ask your children to write to the other family, or look through photos of the baby. Children may sometimes feel left out during the pregnancy, so showing signs that you still think of them and value their presence can go a long way.
Most of these reactions are simply natural responses to a sudden shift in people’s lives. It may take some getting used to. The best way you can prepare yourself and the people you care about is to be thoroughly prepared.
For more information on how to share your journey with your children, read our previous blog post here.
For more a breakdown of some of the popular myths and how to address them, read our blog post, Five Popular Surrogacy Myths Debunked.
Our post, 4 Things Intended Parents Don't Know About Surrogacy, is a helpful intro to some of the questions intended parents ask, which may be useful for your own parents as well.