A Guide to Surrogacy Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts for Friends and Family of Surrogates

Surrogacy is a remarkable journey that allows couples or individuals to fulfill their dream of parenthood when they can’t carry a pregnancy on their own. It’s an act of tremendous love and selflessness on the part of the surrogate, and as friends and family, we should support and respect their decision. Understanding surrogacy etiquette can make a significant difference in providing the support a surrogate needs throughout her journey. 

In this guide, we’ll explore some do’s and don’ts for friends and family of surrogates to navigate this unique and emotional experience with sensitivity and consideration.

Eight Ways To Be Sensitive About Surrogacy

1. Educate yourself

The first and most important step in being a supportive friend or family member to a surrogate is to educate yourself about surrogacy. Learn about the surrogacy process, understand the legal and emotional aspects involved, and be aware of the challenges surrogates might face. By educating yourself, you can engage in more meaningful and informed conversations and offer better support.

2. Communicate openly

Clear and open communication is vital when supporting a surrogate. Listen to her concerns, fears, and joys throughout the surrogacy journey. Remember that emotions can be heightened during this time, so be patient and understanding. Ensure she knows you are there for her whenever she needs someone to talk to or lean on.

3. Offer practical support

Surrogacy can be physically demanding for the surrogate, especially during pregnancy. Acts of kindness can significantly alleviate stress and show your genuine support. Here’s a list of practical ways you can offer support to a surrogate during her journey:

  • Meal Preparations: Cook a nutritious meal for her or set up a meal train with friends and family, ensuring she has a steady supply of home-cooked meals.
  • Household Chores: Offer to help with cleaning or laundry. A clean environment can significantly boost her mood and reduce stress.
  • Childcare: If she has other children, offer to babysit or pick them up from school, giving her some much-needed rest or personal time.
  • Accompany to Appointments: Join her for prenatal check-ups or ultrasound appointments, providing emotional support and companionship.
  • Grocery Runs: Do the grocery shopping for her or accompany her if she wants to go, making it a fun outing.
  • Gift a Care Package: Put together a care package with relaxation items like bath bombs, lotions, comfy socks, and her favorite snacks.

These gestures, while simple, can have a profound impact on a surrogate’s well-being and comfort throughout her journey.

4. Celebrate milestones

Various milestones will be celebrated throughout the surrogacy process – from successful embryo transfer to ultrasounds showing the baby’s growth. Acknowledge these moments and express your joy for the surrogate and intended parents. Celebrating milestones together can create a positive and supportive environment for all parties involved.

5. Avoid intrusive questions

While it’s natural to be curious, avoid asking intrusive questions about the surrogate’s relationship with the intended parents, the financial arrangement, or personal medical details. Respect her privacy and remember that some aspects of the surrogacy journey may be confidential. Instead, focus on discussing her well-being and offering your support. Curiosity is a natural human trait, but when it comes to personal journeys like surrogacy, it’s important to tread with sensitivity.

Intrusive Questions:

  • “How much are they paying you to do this?”
  • “Is the baby biologically yours?”
  • “Why did the intended parents not just adopt?”
  • “Do you think you’ll get attached and want to keep the baby?”
  • “How does your partner feel about you carrying someone else’s child?”

Respectful Alternatives:

  • “How has your experience been with the surrogacy process?”
  • “What inspired you to become a surrogate?”
  • “How do you feel now that you’re helping someone’s dream come true?”
  • “Is there anything you’d like to share or talk about regarding your journey?”
  • “How can I best support you during this time?”

By shifting the focus from potentially prying questions to ones that center on the surrogate’s feelings and well-being, we create a space of understanding and empathy. It’s always best to let the surrogate share what she’s comfortable with at her own pace and in her own words. Offering a listening ear and genuine support can make all the difference.

6. Refrain from unsolicited advice

Respect the surrogate’s decisions and refrain from giving unsolicited advice. Surrogacy is a well-thought-out process involving medical professionals, counselors, and legal experts. Trust that the surrogate and intended parents have made informed choices, and if they seek your input, offer it thoughtfully and respectfully.

7. Use mindful language and respect boundaries

Consider your language when discussing surrogacy. Use respectful and inclusive language, acknowledging the surrogate’s role and the intended parents’ journey. Avoid using terms that might undermine the importance of the surrogate’s contribution or make her feel like she’s just a vessel.

Language plays a crucial role in shaping perceptions and emotions. When discussing surrogacy, it’s essential to use terms that are respectful and avoid those that can come across as derogatory or dismissive. Here’s a list of terms to help guide conversations around surrogacy:

  • Surrogate mother (Alternative: Gestational carrier or Surrogate): The term “mother” can imply a parental role, which might not be accurate in the context of surrogacy.
  • “Real” mother or “Real” parents (Alternative: Biological parents or Intended Parents): Using “real” can undermine the roles of either the surrogate or the intended parents.
  • Surrogate’s payment (Alternative: Compensation or Reimbursement): The term “payment” can sound like a business transaction, whereas “compensation” or “reimbursement” acknowledges the surrogate’s time, effort, and the physical and emotional challenges she undergoes.
  • Giving up the baby (Alternative: Giving the baby back to the parents or Completing the surrogacy journey): Using the term “giving up” implies a sense of abandonment or relinquishment, as if the surrogate is discarding or forsaking the child. This phrasing can be hurtful and misrepresentative of the surrogate’s role and the mutual agreement between her and the intended parents. Giving the baby back to the parents emphasizes the pre-planned nature of surrogacy, where the surrogate and intended parents have a mutual understanding from the start. “Completing the surrogacy journey” highlights the process’s collaborative nature and the fulfillment of the agreement without any negative connotations.

Respect the boundaries set by the surrogate and the intended parents. Every surrogacy arrangement is unique, and what might be comfortable for one surrogate may not apply to another. Always ask for permission before discussing surrogacy with others, and refrain from sharing personal information without consent.

8. Be sensitive to emotional challenges

The emotional aspect of surrogacy can be complex for all parties involved. As friends and family, it’s crucial to be sensitive to the surrogate’s feelings and emotional well-being. She might experience mixed emotions, ranging from excitement and joy to moments of uncertainty or sadness. Offer your support, empathy, and understanding without judgment.

Learn more about surrogacy with Fairfax

For friends and family, our primary role is to offer consistent support and understanding. It’s important to approach every aspect of surrogacy with sensitivity, acknowledging the commitment of both the surrogate and the intended parents. Being informed and respectful is key to supporting this significant process effectively.

If you or someone you know is considering surrogacy or if you simply wish to learn more about the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to Fairfax Surrogacy. Our team is here to guide, educate, and support you every step of the way. Let’s embark on this journey together, ensuring it’s filled with warmth, care, and mutual respect. Contact Fairfax Surrogacy today for more information.