The Relationship Spectrum
One of the challenges of a surrogacy pregnancy is navigating the relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents (IPs). It can be hard enough to choose the person with whom you want to become a parent, but then to choose the person (and her family) who will carry your baby is a whole different level. The good news is that a surrogate/IP relationship can be incredibly rewarding. You just need to know what you want and what you’re ok with before discussing with your legal representation and signing that contract.
We sometimes imagine the relationships between IPs and surrogates on a spectrum. At one end (let’s call it the BFF End) you have the IPs and surrogate who are creating a close friendship for the rest of their lives. They enjoy each other’s company greatly, they hang out every week, they text daily, and after the baby is born, the surrogate and her family will be at her IP’s house every weekend to visit. The IPs call the surrogate for advice, and the two families grow together over the years, being a part of every milestone that their kids reach.
On the other end (let’s call it the Business End) are the surrogate and IPs who are both interested in a more professional and independent relationship. They update each other monthly, and talk mostly about the baby. They are glad to have been matched together, but they lead independent lives and plan to continue those independent lives after the baby is born. When the baby comes, there are kind interactions, but soon after, both sets of people go on their way and do not have much contact again.
Neither is better than the other, and both types of relationships have the wonderful outcome of a loved and well-cared for baby. And successful surrogate mother and intended parents relationships come in all levels of privacy and communication.
Communication During Pregnancy
How often you agree to communicate is up to each match. Some IPs are much more comfortable being in frequent contact, instead of just talking monthly after prenatal appointments. Some IPs would like to attend prenatal appointments (and most surrogates are happy to accommodate them.) Some IPs, however, want less contact, and are better matched with surrogates who are comfortable doing things more independently and with more privacy. Somewhere in the middle is texting or emailing every couple of weeks during the pregnancy, video calls after (or during!) appointments, and more frequent phone contact near the due date. Whatever you prefer, being open with your surrogate about what feels best is key.
Communication After the Birth
You may dream of having your surrogate involved after your baby’s birth in order to keep this special person in your life, and to introduce her to your baby as she or he grows. You may want her and her family to be around for the baby’s milestones or birthdays. It also perfectly normal to want to be in touch every now and then, send pictures, but not really be involved once the baby is born. Usually about six weeks after the baby is born, you and your surrogate no longer have a legal obligation to each other. Once again, being open with your surrogate about your expectations and asking her expectation can help you grow the type of relationship you want going forward.
Ah, flexibility. It seems to make an appearance in every post about surrogacy. The relationship between and surrogate and IPs is a complicated and nuanced relationship, and flexibility on both sides will go a long way to better understanding of each other and a happier relationship, whatever your communication style and desires.
Choosing how much interaction and communication you want with your surrogate is hard work, and can feel a little strange, but doing the introspection beforehand, and being open with your agency up front about the type of relationship you’d like can help them match you with a compatible person. As always, openness and flexibility within your desired outcome will help you foster the kind of relationship you dream of – whether it’s BFF or Business, or somewhere in between.