As a gestational surrogate, you’ll be met with a lot of curiosity. Typically it’s from a place of pure interest and a lack of knowledge.
But, what about when people ask those really awkward questions? How do you respond?
Here are eight questions you may encounter during your journey and ways you can handle them:
1. “What do your kids think? Is your spouse okay with this?”
Before women can be considered eligible for surrogacy, they have to have the support of their families. A surrogate’s children and spouse are an important part of the process, and so they have to be on board. Explain that this is a requirement.
People often worry that children are incapable of understanding things like surrogacy or adoption and will be sad or confused when the baby leaves. But kids understand much more than we give them credit for, and you’ve taken the time to educate your children and prepare them for your surrogacy journey.
You can also share the ways in which your kids and spouse have supported and encouraged you so far. This person is probably just worried about your family, even if they’re being a little nosy about it!
2. “Aren’t you going to get attached to the baby?”
Explain: Of course you’re emotionally attached! But not like you would be in a non-surrogate pregnancy. It can be a little confusing for people to understand how the deep bonds created in pregnancy are different in gestational surrogacy. Explaining that the baby isn’t biologically yours, nor that have you ever felt emotionally like he or she were your child, may help.
The comparison of babysitting, or loving this baby almost like an aunt loves a niece or nephew, often helps people to put it into a context they can relate to. Reassure them that you’re excited to unite the baby with his or her parents!
3. “Who is the baby biologically related to?”
This is information that should be kept private. Simply say that it’d be a violation of your contract to disclose personal information like that. There are a lot of things that are just between you and the intended parents, and this is one of those. It’s a good idea to remind the person that the baby is not biologically related to you, as a gestational surrogate.
They might need a quick explanation of IVF and embryo transfers, since these processes aren’t always common knowledge. If needed, remind them that biological ties aren’t as important as the love that exists within a family. Regardless of biology, this is the intended parents’ baby, and they’re going to love him/her more than anything in the world.
4. “Do you breastfeed the baby?”
These types of decisions are between you and the intended parents and are established in your contract. Surrogates rarely breastfeed the baby after he or she is born, but many choose to pump breast milk for the family. Again, that choice is a personal one, so you don’t have to talk about it with anyone other than the intended parents if someone is making you feel uncomfortable.
Keeping your answers brief will usually get the point across. “No, but I plan on pumping for the family, if I’m able to.” Or, “No, the family has their nutritional plan ready to go.”
5. “How much are you getting paid?”
People often (incorrectly) believe that surrogates are getting rich. Or, they may worry that you’re being taken advantage of. This can be frustrating and hurtful to hear when you’ve put in so much time, effort and love into giving the most important gift to someone else, and you set out on this journey to help others.
Feel free to remind them of your motivations for pursuing surrogacy: helping families. Remind them of all the work and time you put in — surrogacy is a 24/7 job, and it’s fair that you accept some form of compensation for it. Rather than disclosing dollar amounts (that’s between you and the intended parents), let them know that financial questions distract from the important and difficult thing that you’re doing for someone else.
6. “How did you get pregnant?”
Another alarming myth that some people believe is that surrogates get pregnant “the old-fashioned way” with an intended father. If you feel that’s what they’re hinting at, go ahead and shut that down quickly and emphatically!
However, most people simply don’t know much about IVF or embryo transfers, and they certainly don’t know how carefully-regulated the medical process is for you. So walking them through these clinical processes will be helpful. They’re likely just curious about the science of it all.
7. “Can you get the baby back, if you want to?”
Explain that this isn’t your baby, and that your goal was always to help another family. You should also explain that legally, the baby already is (or will be) the child of the intended parents. Assuring them that you’re happy to just “babysit” and that you’re genuinely excited to see the baby go home with his or her parents will probably comfort this person who is likely worried for you.
8. “How can you just give away the baby like that?”
It can be hard for others to understand that you don’t feel like you’re giving the baby away, but that you’re giving the baby back to his or her parents! Reiterate that you’re not the genetic mother and that you also set out with the mindset that this wasn’t your baby in an emotional sense. Your goal was always to complete someone else’s family — your own family is complete and you feel whole. You just want someone else to feel that same joy that you have with your own children.
This is one of the most common (and frustrating) questions you’ll likely receive. Unfortunately, some people may never understand surrogacy in this way.
Respond However You Feel Is Appropriate
It’s okay if you just need to smile and nod sometimes! Nobody has the energy to be a surrogacy educator every minute of the day.
It’s also okay to politely let people know you’re unable to talk about certain things due to the privacy of the intended parents and the details of your surrogacy contract. This is a personal experience for you, the intended parents and your immediate families, and not everyone needs to be privy to details.
Try to remember that surrogacy is still a relatively new and misunderstood family-building path, so insensitive questions are unfortunately common. Most of those questions come from a lack of knowledge, not from a place of malice — so do your best to educate, and to respond gently.
If you need help responding to questions, or if you just need support, your American Surrogacy specialist is always there for you!