Part of becoming a surrogate is talking to your support base (usually your family and friends) about your desire to be a surrogate. Surrogacy isn’t necessarily a part of the general landscape of family building, so when you start considering surrogacy and talking about it, there is a lot of education to be done and a lot of feelings to sort through. Here are some tips for talking to family and friends about wanting to be a surrogate.
1. Talk to your partner/spouse and children first.
Since your surrogacy journey will also be the surrogacy journey of your family unit, their feelings and thoughts about the process are very important to address first. Talk to your family about how a surrogacy pregnancy might affect everyone (both positively and negatively); ask how everyone feels about giving the gift of family to someone else; talk about the hard things that can come with surrogacy, like pregnancy or fertility loss, and strains that could be put on the family. Talk to them about why you feel so passionate about it! Once your family is on board, they can help be your ambassadors to uncles, aunts, grandparents, and friends.
2. Know your surrogacy basics.
People who aren’t familiar with surrogacy sometimes have the false impression that a baby is being “given away” or that only people who don’t want to “ruin” their bodies choose surrogacy. Be armed with the facts. Know that gestational surrogacy has nothing to do with your own genetic material, and that the baby is genetically and legally the parents’ baby. Know that surrogates help people who can’t otherwise have a baby build the family of which they’ve been dreaming. Know that surrogacy isn’t some strange outlier these days: it’s a beautiful way for people and science to get together to help create or add to families.
3. Use the resources.
Request pamphlets on surrogacy from fertility clinics or surrogacy agencies to hand out to family and friends who are having trouble understanding the process. Send your loved one links to online community boards of those struggling with infertility and in need of a surrogate to build their families. Find a surrogacy support group near you and ask if you can bring friends. There’s a whole community of people and groups who want to educate folks about surrogacy – let them help you!
4. Use your metaphors.
Sometimes surrogacy is better understood when you can compare it to something people understand. Phrases like “Their bun, my oven” or “My belly, her baby” can help ease into conversations (this is especially helpful during a surrogacy pregnancy when strangers want to engage with you about your pregnancy).
A metaphor we’ve found helpful is that of loving childcare. Parents send their children to a place or person they have researched, and that person loves our children and takes great care of our children, and then very, very happily gives that child back to their parents at the end of the day. That is like surrogacy – the surrogate does everything she can to care for that embryo/fetus while she is carrying it, but after the delivery, she is so pleased to see this loved and deeply desired child go back to their parents.
5. Give your loved ones time, if they need it.
Having the support of your family and friends during surrogacy is really important – it makes the emotional journey easier, and also gives you supportive people to help you when you’re pregnant, have appointments around town, and are looking after your own children. Some people are going to need time to get used to the idea. Keep talking to them about it, keep sending on stories and resources, and give them the time to get comfortable. While they’re getting used to it, you can be getting cleared through an agency or a clinic, and getting ready to meet the family for whom you will be granting this awesome dream.
Telling family and friends about your desire to be a surrogate can be challenging, but it’s an important step in getting ready for your journey! Hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how supportive people can be when they have good information and the time to process it.
Do you have tactics that have worked well for you when telling others that you’re considering surrogacy or that you’re pregnant with someone else’s baby? We’d love to hear them – post them in comments!