Managing a Relationship With IPs in Another State or Country
Every day we navigate relationships, although the relationship between Intended Parents and Gestational Carriers is a unique one that most don’t get the chance to experience. Managing the relationship may look different since in many cases people are also dealing with distance and possibly language barriers. The relationship between IPs and GC starts out more like a business relationship, with the possibility of becoming a friendship. Even when establishing a business deal, each party brings their own history, experiences, losses and successes to the table. Being aware of their story and knowing that you are in this together for the same purpose will help everyone along the way.
Here are 5 tips to navigate the relationship from Nikki Wahlberg, of Wahlberg Counseling Services:
Share information that is relevant to your joined experience – don’t overshare
The relationship between surrogate and IP is as unique as all the involved parties. Your relationship will be unique; be patient and remember all parties have different ways of expressing gratitude, sadness, etc. We would ask the IP to accept the way you manage these things and you need to accept their process as well.
Talk in honest and genuine manner – keeping appropriate boundaries.
Not all IP or Surrogates want a relationship outside a business relationship and want information as they need to know it. This is not a reflection of you as a person or a minimization of your contribution to their family.
Treat your IP the way you’d like to be treated.
Communication is important, especially if the IPs are out of state or in another country so that they feel like part of the process. My Intended Parents were out of state, but modern technology made communication feel as if they were close by. We Skyped, Facetimed, sent videos and pictures, texted, called, emailed, shared apps and used social media. I would send recordings of the baby’s heartbeat after appointments with other important details. I was not allowed to record with video or do live Facetime calls during those appointments but if you can, even better. International or out of state IPs often try to make a few appointments during the pregnancy, such as at 20 weeks, and of course the birth! This journey can be physically and emotionally difficult at times; having an agency can help be a buffer and having third party support — a therapist or a social worker is also helpful in being able to communicate the right things. Remember that this is a unique relationship that will take work, especially making sure that you are communicating and listening.
If your IPs are international and do not speak the same language you do, communication may be more difficult, requiring patience and understanding. I am an interpreter — Sign Language — and know from experience that when working with two languages, communication is different. Not only do you have different languages but you also have different cultures and communication styles. Because of the difference in languages, interpreters, translators like google and app translations can be helpful, however can sometimes be inaccurate — usually around 70% accurate at best. Communication may take more work, clarification and patience.
The only difference typically seen with LGBTQ couples who go through surrogacy, is they are less likely to have the same journey of previous pregnancy loss and struggle. This is a choice to have a family and they are excited and ready to accept another person to help them create this dream. This is still a relationship and will take work.
Communication and relationships can be hard. Remember the reasons why you chose to do this and that both parties goals are the same – bring home a baby!