There’s no such thing as over-communication when it comes to surrogacy. Making sure that everybody’s expectations are similar is key before starting the surrogacy process, given the importance of this relationship.
So before you begin a surrogacy relationship, there are a few fundamental questions that you, your partner, and your surrogate or gestational carrier (although most families work with gestational carriers, who are impregnated using a donor egg or the egg of the intended mother, rather than their own egg) will need to be on the same page about.
How in touch do you want to be during pregnancy?
For many intended parents seeking out gestational carriers, it’s the first pregnancy they’ve really been involved in, and even when it isn’t, it can feel like a huge loss of control to feel distant from the pregnancy that’s growing their child. This lack of control can make a surrogate pregnancy an immensely stressful time for intended parents. On the other hand, it’s important to be able to empathize with how the surrogate may be feeling. Most agencies won’t accept surrogates unless not only have they given birth in the past, but they also feel they’ve completed their own families. This means that, generally speaking, it won’t be your gestational carrier’s first rodeo, and while she should have patience for intended parents’ nerves, she probably isn’t looking for a backseat driver when it comes to having a healthy pregnancy.
That said, there’s no way to know what level of contact a gestational carrier is going to want or be open to, except by asking. There’s a gestational carrier out there who’s looking for the same level of closeness or distance that your family is – you just need to find her!
Why do you want to be a gestational carrier?
This is the kind of question that can be a great way to break the ice, since it’s an answer she’s probably been thinking about a lot over the course of this process, but it’s also a good indication of what her expectations are for this process, and how they might line up with yours and your partner’s.
How does your family, especially your partner, feel about you being a gestational carrier?
Surrogacy is a big commitment, and can be very challenging – after all, there’s no way to know for sure what kind of impact a pregnancy is going to have on a woman’s health, even if she’s always had easy pregnancies in the past. And even the healthiest pregnancies take a huge amount of time and energy. This means it’s vitally important for the people in a gestational carrier’s life to be supportive and on-board with the surrogacy process.
In case of medical concerns
Medical questions can get a bit personal, but this is a very involved process, so it’s important to make sure everyone is still on the same page. The first question is often how many embryos both the gestational carrier and your family would like to try at each implantation – using multiple embryos can improve the chances of conception, but also carries the chance of multiples. The more embryos, the greater the chance of higher-order multiples. And since multiples like twins, triplets, and more, carry an increased risk of medical complications, it’s important to discuss all of the possible outcomes with a potential gestational carrier before getting started. Relatedly, the question of selective reduction, or reducing a pregnancy from multiples to a smaller number, can draw strong feelings in different directions, both in intended parents and in gestational carriers.
There are many other medical questions it’s important to address early on, one of which is prenatal testing, which may be important to you and your partner in one way, and important to a surrogate or gestational carrier in another way. Other factors like diet and exercise during pregnancy, birth plan, and different aspects of prenatal care may be more or less important to your family’s values, or to a surrogate or gestational carrier, so it’s important to talk through anything either of you may feel strongly about.
Tell me about yourself!
Many families who have had surrogacy as a part of their journey have described the process of matching with a gestational carrier as feeling like dating, and the comparison makes sense – it’s a casual interaction that’s meant to help you figure out whether you could have a serious relationship with this person. This means that, just generally, getting to know each other as people, on a personal level, will help you get to know each other in the way you’ll need so you can figure out if you’re compatible in this way.