So, your friend or family member has told you they’re pursuing surrogacy to add a child to their family — how exciting!
But, what if you’ve never had any experience with surrogacy before? How do you know what to say — and what not to say — when you receive this news? How do you express your excitement without offending the intended parents?
Surrogacy can be a tricky conversation, but American Surrogacy is here to help. In this blog post, we’ll run through some of the biggest things not to say when talking to intended parents and offer some alternatives instead. Remember, our team is always available to explain more about surrogacy when you call us at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).
In the meantime, find some tips for this conversation below:
5 Things Not to Say to an Intended Parent
There are a few common things that people say when their loved ones first share their surrogacy news. As well-meaning as they are, they can actually be quite intrusive and hurtful for intended parents to hear. Here are a few phrases you’ll want to avoid:
1. “How much are you paying your surrogate?”
Surrogate compensation is a hot topic among those who are unfamiliar with the surrogacy process — but it’s not a topic up for discussion with intended parents. Refrain from any comments on money or how the intended parents must be “rich” for pursuing this path. The fact is that many intended parents are often in debt or have spent much of their life savings trying to have a child.
Any compensation they are paying their surrogate is between them and her. Rest assured that it’s a number the two parties have both agreed is fair.
2. “Why don’t you just adopt?”
Adoption is a lot harder than many people think it is. It’s a process that takes a great deal of time and money, just like surrogacy. It also comes with some unknowns that surrogacy doesn’t.
Asking intended parents this question comes across as judgmental. Odds are, they considered adoption when deciding on their next step in their family-building process, and they decided it wasn’t right for them. It’s not your business why they chose surrogacy over adoption; it’s your job to support them through their family-building journey.
3. “Who’s the baby’s real mother?”
Most surrogacies today are gestational surrogacies, in which the surrogate is not genetically related to the child she carries. Instead, the intended parents’ embryo is implanted in her uterus for her to carry to term. Some intended parents use donor gametes to create this embryo.
Using the word “real” in reference to non-traditional family-building processes only perpetrates the idea that pregnancy is the only way to be a parent. Pregnancy and genetic relationship does not make a family; instead, it’s love and dedication.
4. “Whose sperm are you using?”
Similarly, when a male gay couple pursues surrogacy, people often ask who the “real” dad will be. This is an incredibly rude and intrusive question. A parent’s genetic connection to their child is only the business of the parent, the child, and the spouse.
Both men in a gay couple will be great parents to their child, regardless of genetics. Focus on that in your conversation, not their biological relationship.
5. “Can I meet your surrogate?”
This question may come from a place of interest; after all, you want to meet the woman who will be carrying your loved one’s baby! However, a surrogate isn’t someone to be put on display. She’s her own person with her own life, not subject to whims of intended parents and their friends and family.
Intended parents should be the one bringing up this idea, not you. Their relationship with their surrogate and their personal preferences will determine whether they are comfortable with this sort of thing.
6. “Wow, you’re lucky you don’t have to get fat/have morning sickness!”
You may be trying to find a silver lining in your loved one’s journey to surrogacy, but remember that many intended mothers would much rather carry their child on their own — regardless of side effects or risks. It may have taken an intended mother a long time to grieve her dreams of pregnancy, and this flippant response can bring up her negative experiences and feelings all over again.
7. “Don’t you feel jealous of your surrogate?”
Of course an intended mother has some feelings of jealousy toward her surrogate! On the same note as the comment above, don’t mention these kinds of things to intended mothers. Infertility grief is strong and can last a long time, and your loved one should be looking forward to the positives of the future — not the bad experiences of the past.
3 Things to Say to an Intended Parent
While there are many things you should not say to an intended parent, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t talk about their surrogacy at all! Here are a few more positive phrases you should make sure to use in your conversations with intended parents:
1. “How can I help?”
Even though intended parents aren’t the ones physically going through pregnancy, their journey through gestational surrogacy will still be hard. Not only do they have to stay organized and pay for all of the expenses of pregnancy, there will be tough emotional journey ahead as their surrogate gets pregnant and they watch their baby grow within her over the next nine months.
As their friend or family member, you can play a huge role in making this journey a little easier. Offer to take them out for dinner or do something else to take their mind off of surrogacy. Throw them a baby shower or help them decorate their nursery for their future child. Find ways to help them out just as you would anyone else who is expecting a child in the traditional way.
2. “You must be excited to be parents!”
Intended parents often have conflicting feelings about surrogacy. It’s one step closer to them finally having a child, but it also requires them to give up their dreams of pregnancy and a great deal of control over their child’s development in utero. Because of the emotions involved, it may be difficult for them to share their excitement.
So, give them an opportunity to talk about it! Instead of focusing on the details and asking lots of questions, accept their news with excitement and reflect what they are likely feeling. Ask them about their plans for the nursery and what will happen after the baby is born; don’t focus too much on their choice of surrogacy in getting there.
3. “I know you’ve waited a long time for this. I’m happy for you!”
Similarly, express your excitement about their news, too! Remember that intended parents have often gone through a lot before choosing surrogacy, and it can be reassuring for someone to notice and validate their struggles. This is the kind of response they are looking for when they announce their surrogacy journey. You can’t go wrong with mentioning this in your conversation.
More than anything else, pay close attention to the intended parents’ language and responses during this kind of conversation. You should be able to detect fairly easily what topics they are comfortable with and which they are not. Use that to guide your conversation.
Want more tips on supporting those going through the surrogacy process? Talk to our surrogacy specialists anytime by calling 1-800-875-2229(BABY).