Talking about surrogacy can be tough — especially if you’re still learning about the ins and outs of the process. If a loved one tells you about her plans to become a surrogate, you may not be sure of how to respond. What should you say to be as supportive as possible?
We know surrogacy can be a tricky conversation for some people. That’s why we’ve gathered this helpful guide to what to say — and what not to say — when someone tells you they’re becoming a surrogate. Proper language is so important in the surrogacy process, and it’s a good idea to have a base knowledge of surrogacy before your loved one begins their journey.
Below, check out some important things to know for talking about surrogacy with your loved one. Remember: American Surrogacy’s team of surrogacy specialists is always here to answer any of the questions you may have about the surrogacy process.
5 Things Not to Say to a Surrogate
First, let’s start with the things not to say to a gestational carrier. There are a lot of misconceptions about the surrogacy process, and a lot of them emerge as ignorant or insensitive questions to a gestational carrier.
Before you have a conversation with your loved one about her surrogacy journey, scratch these ones from your vocabulary:
1. “Aren’t you afraid that you’ll ‘get attached’ to the baby?”
Many people assume “surrogacy” still means “traditional surrogacy” — that the carrier is related to the baby. But, that’s not the truth. More than likely, your loved one is a gestational carrier, meaning she is just “the oven” for the intended parents’ baby. It’s silly to ask her if she’ll get attached; she knows she’s just “babysitting,” and she will likely be excited to hand over the baby once he or she is born!
2. “How much are you getting paid?”
This is an absolute hands-off topic when you’re talking with gestational carriers. How much a woman is paid for her surrogacy services is her family’s and the intended parent’s business alone.
Know that if your loved one is receiving compensation for her services, it is a number that she and her intended parents agreed is fair to all parties. Avoid any conversation about money when talking to your friend or family member about her surrogacy journey.
3. “Why don’t the intended parents just adopt?”
This is one of the most common questions that intended parents get — and their surrogate will likely get the query, too. The fact is that adoption is not right for everyone. Every parent has the right to choose the family-building path that is right for them, and it’s no one’s business to question it.
Intended parents choose surrogacy for many reasons: They have remaining embryos, they want a genetic connection, or adoption may not be possible for them. Their reasons are not your surrogate’s story to tell, so stop asking!
4. “How will you tell your kids?”
While this question itself can be a well-meaning one, it can come off in another way. Often, the people who ask this question are implying that the surrogate’s children won’t be able to understand the surrogacy process, or that they will take it personally when their mother “gives away” the baby she is carrying.
Children understand more than adults give them credit for. It’s highly likely that your friend has already started to explain the surrogacy process to her children in a positive way — maybe even in a way not much different than how she explained surrogacy to you.
5. “Pregnancy is dangerous — are you sure about this?”
Most likely, by the time your friend is telling you about her plans to become a surrogate, she has already begun the process. She may have already matched with intended parents, she may be taking fertility medication, or she may even be pregnant!
Whatever stage she is at, she’s already made up her mind about this journey. Expressions of concern from her loved ones are not what she is looking for. A woman has to be fully informed of all the risks well before she starts the surrogacy process. So, she’s already evaluated those risks, and she won’t like to be reminded of them.
3 Things to Say to a Surrogate
While there are certain things that surrogates are tired of hearing, there are also some things that surrogates don’t hear often enough. If you’re discussing your friend’s surrogacy journey with her, here are some positive things that you can say:
1. “The intended parents must be so grateful!”
A surrogate knows that what she’s doing will help her intended parents reach their dreams of having a family. But, to hear someone else acknowledge her impact is a big deal.
Rather than focusing on what she gets out of the surrogacy process (ie. surrogate compensation), focus on what her decision will give to other people. It shows that you truly understand why she chose this path and, in turn, that you appreciate her, too.
2. “You are such a wonderful person for doing this!”
But, don’t just assume that your loved one knows you respect her decision — tell her to her face!
A surrogate may not always receive positive comments from all of her friends and family. It can be disheartening to be so excited about being a surrogate, only to have someone respond with judgement or disapproval (see comments above). Make it obvious that you respect her decision by congratulating her on it and clearly showing your pride in what she has chosen to do. After all, surrogacy is something that affects the whole world, not just her intended parents.
3. “How can I help?”
When your loved one becomes a surrogate, she gives up a great deal of her time and energy to grow a baby for someone else. She may be just as tired and overwhelmed as during her previous pregnancies, but she may not be receiving the same support from her friends and family because the baby isn’t hers.
So, when your friend tells you she’s being a surrogate, take the opportunity to offer your assistance. Tell her you’ll make dinner on a busy night or watch her kids when she has doctor’s appointments. She will certainly appreciate it in the next year or so to come.
Want more advice on talking to a surrogate about her journey? Contact our surrogacy team at 1-800-875-2229(BABY) for our tips and advice.