Your gestational carrier will be a more obvious target for strangers’ questions — that baby bump will start to show eventually! But those who know you’re pursuing surrogacy will likely be curious about your side of the process, too. It’s still a relatively uncommon way to build a family, after all, and most people simply don’t know how it works.
However, that also means that people are even more likely to ask questions about the process that are accidentally insensitive or sometimes plain rude. Here are some questions you may receive and some ways you can choose to respond in a pinch:
1. “How much money are you paying your surrogate? How much did this cost?”
You don’t go around asking people how much money they make, how much their house cost, etc. That’s because financial questions are just sort of impolite. If you really want to shut someone down, let them know you won’t be discussing those matters.
But it’s probably helpful to remind them that you can’t put a price tag on the ability to have a family. It’s also important to let this person know that surrogates aren’t in this for the money. They sacrifice a lot, and it’s fair to accept reasonable compensation for this round-the-clock job.
2. “So who is the baby related to? Are you going to be the real parents? How do you know it’s yours?”
Like in adoption, the “real parents” are the parents who raise the child — in this case, the intended parents. Feel free to remind them that this phrase is harmful, especially to children. Give them the correct phrases to use, like “biological ties,” “intended parents,” “donors,” “gestational carriers” and whatever else you feel is appropriate.
As to whom the baby’s biological parents will be, you can disclose that at your own discretion and repeat that biological connections are not as important as familial bonds. If you like, you can explain how IVF works and how your fertility clinic and surrogate will be part of that process.
3. “Why didn’t you just adopt?”
Adoption, like surrogacy, is not an easy road to parenthood. Nor is it the right fit for every hopeful parent. There’s no right or wrong way to have a family, and viewing one path as morally superior or somehow easier than another option is damaging to all families.
You can leave it at that or, if you like, you can briefly explain some of the reasons why adoption wasn’t the right option for you. Just remember that they may push back with arguments why your reasons aren’t valid. It’s okay to stay firm and to again remind them that flippantly suggesting adoption disregards the incredibly difficult process that adoptive families face, just like all families who have children through “alternative” means.
4. “How does the surrogate get pregnant?”
There are an alarming number of people who think that the surrogate has intercourse with an intended father. If you feel that anyone is asking that, shut that down quickly and explain how embryo transfers work!
However, they might simply be curious about IVF and embryo transfers, so walk them through the process. They may also be interested to hear about the surrogate’s side of the medical experience, and how meticulously planned it all is.
5. “Are you glad you don’t have to go through being pregnant yourself?”
They probably think they’re saying a cheerful or funny thing. You can always smile and say, “I still wish it were me — it’d be worth it!”
If you want, you can explain to them why that comment is insensitive. Explain how, even though you’re grateful for your surrogate’s help and you know pregnancy can be difficult, you still wish you could carry your baby yourself and experience that journey together. These comments are hurtful to anyone who has experienced infertility or child loss, or who is unable to carry a pregnancy themselves.
6. “Aren’t you worried the surrogate is going to keep the baby?”
Explain: No, you’re not worried. Not only is this legally not an option, it’s also not something that gestational surrogates are interested in.
Giving a brief rundown of the differences between traditional and gestational surrogacy may help. Let them know that a gestational surrogate has no biological tie to the baby, and her motivations for surrogacy are to help you complete your family. Her own family is already complete! Your surrogate cannot, and will not want to, keep your baby.
7. “Don’t you ever feel jealous of your surrogate?”
Many intended parents struggle with feelings of jealousy throughout the surrogacy process. But it’s important that you stand united with your surrogate and let your family and friends know that you and her are on the same side and want the same things.
If you’re comfortable doing so, you can talk about any jealous feelings that you’ve had. Just be sure to let them know that your feelings of love, hope, respect and gratitude toward your surrogate outweigh any of those painful feelings.
8. “How are your kids ever going to understand this someday?”
Just like any child who came into a family through “unconventional” means, children who were born via surrogate don’t seem to mind! As long as children grow up hearing their personal story from day one, they’ll grow into the understanding of that experience as they age.
Children come to understand all different types of family makeups — those created through marriage and blending, adoption, IVF, surrogacy and more. Explain that you’ll talk about their surrogacy story early and often, so it will always feel natural and celebrated. Kids understand a lot more than we give them credit for.
Respond However You Feel Is Appropriate
Maybe you just don’t have the emotional energy to be a surrogacy educator that day. That’s okay! It’s totally fine if you just smile and nod in response to an invasive question.
If you’re really hurt and upset by someone’s question, it’s also okay to tell them so. If you need to steer clear of toxic people during your surrogacy journey, then so be it. Always try your best to be gentle with your response, and aim to educate rather than to fight fire with fire.
People don’t always know how to talk to intended parents about surrogacy, so try to stay patient. Remember that your American Surrogacy specialist is always there for you if you need help responding to these types of questions or if you just need support!