Why Surrogate’s Partners Need Support, Too
We talk a lot about support during surrogacy journeys. It’s an inherently complicated process that is made exponentially easier with a reputable agency, but even then, personal backup is essential.
As an agency, we believe it is of utmost importance that a surrogate has a strong support system. If she is in a relationship, that primary support person is typically her partner. Sometimes, especially in a situation that can be so emotionally intense, even the support person needs support. Therapy for a surrogate’s partner can be key to a fulfilling experience; it helps them to sort complicated feelings and can ultimately bring the couple closer.
Spouses as support
When some women initially consider gestational surrogacy, she prefers to do the research on her own and then present the idea to her husband or partner, prepared to answer questions and address concerns. Others involve their spouses from the very start, preferring to utilize them as sounding boards to help determine if it’s the right fit for their family.
It’s important to determine early on if the partner is onboard; a reputable agency will include them from the beginning of the screening process. It’s reasonable to expect that the partner or spouse will participate in:
- A medical screening, including testing for sexually transmitted or communicable diseases
- Meeting with a mental health professional to discuss the emotional complexities of surrogacy
- Meeting with an attorney to discuss the legal implications
- Participating in a home visit
- Undergoing a background and financial check
It’s also imperative that the potential surrogate and her partner are on the same page as she moves forward. Having a discussion early on about how you envision the process – while remembering that not everything will go as planned and to practice patience and flexibility – is extremely important. It’s also a good opportunity to express certain preferences and non-negotiables.
According to Travis, the husband of a gestational carrier, “I really did not know anything about surrogacy at the time, but I am an open person and just told her that whatever she wants to do I support her. This was of course with some, but not many stipulations: it just could not be her egg and no biological ties to us.”
Why is therapy important for the surrogate’s partner?
While the initial meeting with the agency’s mental health professional will help you and your partner to explore some of these issues and questions in more detail, some find that they need additional support throughout – or that certain factors don’t even arise until much later. Surrogacy is a complex and very personal process. Few things are more intimate than carrying a baby; when someone’s partner is carrying a baby for someone else, it may be difficult for them to know how they fit into the picture.
According to Greg, whose wife was a gestational carrier twice, “Husbands do need support, even though they might think, ‘I’m a guy, I don’t need that.’ It’s a very emotional thing, having a child. Especially when you know all the contracts behind it, that it’s not your child.” Still, he adds, “When you see your wife give birth, there’s some emotional attachment there that you need to talk about.”
That emotional attachment is something that is addressed with the gestational carrier from the very beginning; she has support from the agency, her match manager, and a surrogacy support group to help her address these very natural feelings. For many partners, therapy is a beneficial way to sort through similarly complicated emotions.
How do I find a therapist for my partner?
Once you and your partner recognize that therapy would be a helpful tool, there are a few ways to find a good therapist. Not all therapy is created equal, so Psychology Today offers a few tips:
- Ask family and friends. In this case, talk to people close to the process like your match manager and other gestational carriers. Your agency is there to support both you and your partner in any way you need during the surrogacy process, and that includes identifying ongoing counseling and therapy. Ask other surrogates too; she and her partner may have experienced a similar situation and can speak to their own therapist for a referral list.
- Shop online. Psychology Today suggests taking a look at their Therapy Directory as well BetterHelp for options in your area and even via electronic counseling.
- Call them. Once you’ve found someone to contact, pick up the phone and give them a call. Have some questions ready about their background and their specialty to get an idea if they are qualified to help your specific needs.
The cost of therapy will vary depending on your therapist, location, income level, and insurance. Most therapists will charge anywhere from $75 to $150 per session out of pocket. BetterHelp’s goal is to find affordable counseling options that can be as low as $35 per session.
And while it’s difficult to say exactly how long a surrogate’s partner will have to go to therapy, most couples can confidently say that both the time and cost are worth it. Not only will it help your partner process their own feelings, but it can also help them to be a more solid source of support for you.
Travis’ advice to a surrogate’s spouse is to “treat your wife with care, patience, love, and understanding, as this is scary for both and you can’t be selfish. Just remember the happiness the couple will experience when your wife gives birth to their baby.”
Partners are truly the unsung heroes of surrogacy, and we are here to support both of you in your service and generosity. You can learn more about whether surrogacy is the right choice for your family here!