If you’re planning on parenting with a partner, and you’re considering turning to a gestational carrier to carry your child, there are a lot of conversations ahead of you – conversations with the carrier, conversations with healthcare providers, with your friends and family – and for all of those conversations, you and your partner are going to want to be on the same page. That means that now is the time to get a head-start on all of those conversations by talking some things through with your partner.
What you’re going to tell your child
It may seem early to be talking to your partner about what you’re going to tell a child born through surrogacy about their origins, but now is actually the only chance you’ll have to make certain decisions. For example, if you’re considering using donor eggs to conceive, and you want your child to have the option to look up their genetic parent when they turn eighteen, that’s a decision you’ll have to make now, since it’s not an option through many agencies.
Even if you’re not planning on using donor eggs, the question of what to tell a little one might come up sooner than you might think. This topic may come up when your child is as young as just a few years old, if they start asking about having a sibling. It’s generally believed that the best way to handle talking to a young child about surrogacy is to be age-appropriate but open about the facts from an early age. Being matter-of-fact and cheerful with a young child about their origins also means working through any uncertainty or negative feelings you might have about surrogacy as the way your family grows before your little one is born. One way to start to lay the groundwork for talking to young children about surrogacy is to look for children’s books and other resources which introduce the topic in a less personal way.
What kind of relationship you want with your surrogate or gestational carrier
If you’re picturing a cozy, friendly, once-a-week-dinners relationship with your gestational carrier, but your partner is happy only seeing them at prenatal checkups, you’re going to run into a problem pretty quickly. There are many different reasons why you and your partner might want a certain amount of closeness or distance with your gestational carrier, from wanting to be an active part in the pregnancy that’s carrying your soon-to-be-little-one to wanting to have a familial relationship with the person whose body is helping to build your family. On the other hand, it’s equally natural not to want to invite a stranger that far into your lives, especially if they won’t be close to your family as you parent.
There’s no wrong answer to the kind of relationship you should have with a surrogate or gestational carrier, there’s just working out what’s right for you, and what’s right for your partner, and then finding a surrogate or gestational carrier who’s looking for the same kind of relationship.
If a family member or friend has offered to be your family’s surrogate or gestational carrier, that opens up another set of questions. The offer of surrogacy is, just in and of itself, a massive and generous gift. However, surrogacy is a life-changing event, and it’s bound to change any existing relationship it becomes a part of. Parents-to-be who turn to surrogacy can have complicated feelings about surrogacy, and about their gestational carrier, which may complicate a family relationship or friendship. Surrogates and gestational carriers, on the other hand, can have significant life-changes based on surrogacy, including serious medical complications and time off work, and figuring out how to navigate those economic or health realities in the space of an already-established relationship can also be especially complicated. On the other hand, a known surrogate or carrier can help intended parents feel more in control of the situation, can help reassure them about the connection to their baby from early on, and can bring a family member or friend who acts as a surrogate or gestational carrier even closer to the family.