When you decide to become a gestational surrogate, your family (and close friends) likely will have questions for you. Remember that they are asking the questions because they are curious and want to learn about something new to them — they want to understand your decision, not attack it.
Generally, their questions will fall into the categories below, so here is how to prepare your responses.
Who are you doing this for? Whose baby will it be? Who are you working with to make sure it is “done right?”
People don’t know what they don’t know.
Through no fault of their own, family members may have misconceptions about surrogacy. These “Who…?” questions are where most of those will show up. This is where you can explain that the baby is not genetically related to you – that is kind of mind-blowing for people unfamiliar with surrogacy.
And you can tell them that the intended parents are using surrogacy to build their own family, which is a tremendous gift you are giving them. You will need to strike a balance when sharing information about the intended parents, making sure you are protecting their privacy. Speaking about them, in general, is plenty of information.
Telling family members that you are doing this whole process with the backing and support of an agency will help them understand who all is involved altogether, and that your best interests are in full play.
What is the process? What does surrogacy mean nowadays? What is your relationship with the intended parents?
Explain to them that there are agencies that specialize in connecting surrogates with intended parents. That’s because, thanks to science, you will not be biologically tied to the baby. No longer is it the norm for a surrogate to carry a baby related to them, so procedures and safeguards are in place to prioritize the health and safety of all involved. You and the intended parents will get to know each other and connect however and as often as you like – before, during, and after the birth.
Why in the world would you carry someone else’s baby for them?
Everyone has their personal reasons for becoming a gestational surrogate, but the short answer here, of course, is: “Because I want to help, grow a family for someone who can not on their own.” How much you want to discuss or reveal beyond that is up to you. People relate well to the idea of helping others and giving them something they would not otherwise be able to have, so explaining it from that perspective is a good approach to take.
Where will you have the baby? Where do the intended parents live? Will you be traveling?
Your closest family members should be aware of where you plan to deliver the baby and what your travel plans might be in the surrogacy process so that they can best support you. You are under no obligation to tell anyone else any of the location or travel details unless you want to.
When should you tell people? When is the baby due?
Your answers to these questions depend on at what point in the surrogacy process you want to start telling people about your choice and what information you and your intended parents have decided together to share publicly. Some surrogates choose to share their choice with family members right at the time they make the decision so that they can have the support from the get-go. Others prefer to wait until further into the process; say, when the pregnancy is confirmed. You know your family (and yourself!) best, so how and what you tell them is up to you. We suggest talking to your intended parents and composing some notes ahead of time for yourself so that you are prepared about what you’ll say.
How is the baby conceived? How does all of this work? How much are you getting paid?
People are curious, and others hurtle over social boundaries and ask wildly inappropriate questions. This is where it’s best to think your answers through ahead of time. Explaining that the embryo is created outside in a more clinical setting and then transferred can be done in simple, general terms – well, just like that! Going into medical detail isn’t for everyone, and you want to be careful to protect the intended parents’ circumstances, as well. For example, not everyone needs to know whether the intended parents used donated sperm or their own.
This is a great opportunity to explain more about how the agency is helpful to all parties and ensures that all of the details are handled.
As far as discussing your compensation, a good answer involves reminding them that you are providing a valuable service to the intended parents. You can say that you and the intended parents came to an agreement about the value of your time and commitment. At the end of the day, you don’t owe anyone answers to questions that make you feel uncomfortable.