As you research becoming a gestational carrier, you may be surprised to see one requirement in particular — that every surrogate should not have any “untreated abuse (child, sexual or physical).”
It may seem like common sense that a prospective surrogate should be emotionally and mentally ready for the challenges of surrogacy, but how does a history of sexual assault play into that?
We know this can be a sensitive and complicated topic, so our specialists are always willing to address it personally when you call us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or contact us online. In the meantime, there are a few things we want you to know — for your own protection as a prospective surrogate.
The Sensitivity of the Surrogacy Process
When you become a gestational carrier, you agree to share the most intimate workings of your body and your life with people who are (at the beginning) complete strangers. It’s a great commitment for anyone, but especially so for someone who is dealing with complicated feelings over the control of their body.
It’s common for survivors of sexual assault and trauma to feel like their body is out of their control. Some women feel that, by becoming a surrogate, they can take back control of their bodies and use them to give an incredible gift to someone else. But, for some, gestational surrogacy can exacerbate those feelings.
The medical process of surrogacy revolves around a surrogate’s cycle, health and overall physical state. It can be frustrating for any woman to feel like her body is being discussed with insensitivity, and the clinical, no-nonsense nature of fertility treatments and procedures can make that worse. These steps can trigger negative experiences for many survivors, even those who generally feel they have successfully moved forward from their trauma. It can be a violating experience for anyone.
If you are a woman who is thinking about being a surrogate, but you have a history of sexual assault or trauma, you need to seriously evaluate your emotional state before moving forward. How will you feel when people talk about your menstrual cycle and the workings of your reproductive system with each other in such a straightforward way? How will you feel having doctors performing procedures on the most vulnerable parts of your body? How will feel having people talk about you — and not necessarily to you?
This is why treatment is so important prior to starting the surrogacy process. It will help you cope with the trauma you have experienced and prepare yourself for the reality of the upcoming experiences you may have.
Rule #1: Be Honest
Here’s what we want you to know: You can absolutely be a surrogate if you have experienced sexual assault or other kinds of sexual trauma in the past. You just have to make sure that trauma is treated and resolved prior to starting the surrogacy process.
Whether or not you’ve been through extensive treatment for a history of sexual assault or trauma, you need to let your specialist know early on in the process about this history. That way, she can ensure you get the support you need and that the intended parents you match with are aware of your situation.
It’s normal to feel nervous or uncomfortable talking about a history of sexual assault — but you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. When it comes to surrogacy, hiding this history is not a good idea. Whether consciously or not, the truth will come out.
Every surrogate must undergo a mental health evaluation with a trained psychologist. During this evaluation, it’s important to be as open and honest as possible about your history, so your mental health professional can determine whether you are truly ready for the process ahead. Even if you try to avoid the topic, these psychologists can commonly pick up on a history of sexual assault or trauma based on indicators you are not even aware of. That mental health professional will inform your surrogacy specialist, who will likely disqualify you from the rest of the process.
Being honest with your specialist from the start gives you a better chance at successfully reaching your surrogacy goals. Remember, your surrogacy specialist will always be there to help you and will never judge you. They want you to be comfortable and successful in your surrogacy journey, and they want to support you in that however they can. But, for them to do that, it’s important that they’re aware of your personal situation from the beginning.
So, don’t be afraid to apply as a surrogate if you have a history of sexual assault or trauma, but keep in mind the specific challenges this path may hold for you.
For more information on becoming a surrogate with our agency, please contact our specialists at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) or submit an informational form online.