When approaching the relationship between intended parents (IPs) and gestational carriers (GCs), there are a lot of variables to consider, as usual with the surrogacy process! From what city each party is located, to the personalities at play, every situation and personal preference is different. The most important thing is that when you are matched you discuss together what your relationship will look like, and possibly include it in your legal contract.
Here are some specifics to consider:
Style of Communication
First you have to know your own style of communication and will that style work with the other people involved in this relationship. A fun (and enlightening!) exercise is to see what you think your communication style is, and find out what your match discovers about their communication style. We like the 4 archetypes on Maturitas Café: Relator, Initiator, Analyzer or Director. Once you know your style and your match’s style, you can have a greater understanding of why they communicate the way they do, and how you might communicate more effectively to them.
Preferred Method of Contact
This is huge in a world of technology. Both parties need to know each other’s preferred method of contact and be able to use that in order to communicate. For example, would someone prefer to text than talk on the phone, or do they prefer to only talk and will never answer or possibly not even look at a text? People might also just prefer to email, or use Facebook Messenger, or Google Hangouts. Something important to discuss is how to contact each other in case of an emergency.
For IPs there is a great deal of trust in this relationship, because you can’t be with your GC every waking moment. Knowing how often you want (or need!) to be in contact with your GC is important: every day, every couple of weeks, once a month, or only before and/or after appointments. Know your absolute limits of how much time out of touch is too much time out of touch. Also, go over your expectations with your GC: I expect a response within the hour, within 24 hours, within a week.
For GCs, it is important for you to realize how much trust is given to you and do your best to communicate with the IPs as often or not as they would like. Knowing how involved the IPs want to be and being conscientious about trying to include them when they would like to be included is important. And while it’s important to try to live up to your IP’s expectations on communication, being up front about your own desires and needs with communication will help you feel more connected.
How to Include the GC’s Partner
Ask! Ask the GC’s partner if and how much they want to be included. Do they want to be included on all correspondence between the two families, included in doctors’ appointments, and side-by-side with the GC, or would they rather be more of a bystander? The GC’s partner may just want to be there for the GC, and not involved so much in the nitty-gritty of the surrogacy pregnancy, like the appointments.
One way to include the GC’s partner more would be through an app, like TinyBeans, where everyone can log their experiences for the whole group to see. Or if you are planning to give a gift to your GC, make it something she and her partner can enjoy together, like massages, dinner someplace away from the kids, etc.
Location of GC and IPs
Location determines some of the contact made. If both parties are local to each other, seeing each other in-person is a nice touch especially as that belly grows. If parties live in different states or countries, in-person contact will definitely be less, but that just means that phone calls, video calls, emails, and pictures become your main medium.
Taking Care of Yourself
Something that often gets overlooked when talking about our relationships to other people is how important it is that we take care of ourselves. We can relate better to others and share better with others when we feel heard ourselves, and when we feel connected to our own feelings. For IPs, intended parents surrogacy blogs or intended parents support groups that you can find and join online can really help you take care of questions you may not feel comfortable asking your GC or just help you vent about the whole surrogacy process. For GCs, surrogate mother support groups or surrogacy journey blogs, as well as resources like surromomsonline can help you do the same thing: ask weird questions, vent about the process, find camaraderie.
The relationship between gestational carrier and intended parents is one of the most beautiful, nuanced, challenging and important relationships out there. You’re going through a lot together! Building a great relationship is all about being open with each other, communication, and taking care of yourself and each other.