Dear Sassy Surrogate: Navigating Judgement
Dear Sassy Surrogate,
How do you navigate the judgement of others when you want to become, or already are, a surrogate? People can be mean and sometimes not aware that their comments can be hurtful. I am wanting to help a family achieve their dreams, but am concerned with the misconceptions and perspectives of other people around me.
— Wanting to do the right thing
Have you ever been judged negatively for giving an unusually thoughtful gift to someone? Perhaps for behaving in a selfless manner or for just being an overall generous and giving person? NO? So, then why would people judge a woman for being a gestational surrogate and providing someone with the greatest gift imaginable… the gift of parenthood?? But it does happen and there are ways to deal with, and understand, these negative reactions.
We all trust our doctors and it can be an even more difficult struggle when they have a negative opinion of our decisions. Women wanting to be gestational carriers have sometimes encountered situations in which their doctors do not support their decision to be a gestational carrier. In some cases, they may simply be trying to make sure you have all the appropriate information, have researched thoroughly and that you understand and are aware of the risks in being a gestational carrier (which are the normal risks a woman is faced with any pregnancy, with the additional IVF cycle). However, if the negative opinions are deeper and of a more personal nature, it might be important to find a healthcare provider who supports you and your decision. They play too important a role during your pregnancy to not feel supported.
Some people express concern about how your biological child/ren may be affected by your decision to be a gestational carrier. Our experience shows that children are very resilient, often more so than we, as adults, are. There are many age-appropriate books that discuss this issue that can be read together with your children to help them understand the process. It is also important to engage them in the process from the beginning so that they know that the child you will be carrying is not going to be their baby brother or sister. Being honest and willing to talk with them, even showing pictures of the IPs if you are able, helps everyone throughout the process. You can always request for your children to have counseling sessions during the pregnancy and even after the delivery, if you feel like they need additional help working through this process. You can be confident that you will be teaching them generosity, selflessness, modeling the gift of giving and living a truly altruistic life by your actions of providing the intended parents with the greatest gift in the world…. their very own baby.
Lack of support from close friends and family may be the most challenging hardship to deal with. Gestational carriers need to be able to depend on their support network during their pregnancy. However, it is unrealistic to think that no one in your life will have an opposing viewpoint. Some shaming might be a result of miscommunication, curiosity or misinformation. We encourage using that opportunity to educate them and share your reasons for becoming a gestational carrier but in the end being willing to agree to disagree. Another area of misunderstanding can stem from the lack of understanding of the difference between traditional surrogacy versus gestational surrogacy. They may be worried about the emotional impact your decision might have on you if they believe that you are biologically related to the baby you are carrying. This is easy to clarify. For those who continue to be less than enthusiastic about your choice, you may have to limit the time spent with them during your pregnancy or agree to focus your relationship on other topics during this time. All you can do is offer information and share your reasons for believing this is the right decision for you and your family.
Everyone, including friends and family, is entitled to their opinion and, believe me, people will have them and don’t hesitate to express them. The important thing is that if you decide to be a gestational carrier you feel confident in your decision knowing that you are changing lives, building families, and playing a large role in helping dreams come true. Hopefully, in most cases, you will be celebrated rather than shamed.