Surrogacy was something I had always thought about. I loved being pregnant and was lucky to have had two very easy pregnancies. So when the opportunity arose to carry for another couple that I had become friendly with, I jumped at the opportunity.
While I had already decided to help this couple, I quickly realized that I would need to talk to the people in my life who would likely be surprised by what may have seemed like a rash decision.
First up? My immediate family. In addition to my husband of 8 years, I had two young boys who I needed to consider as well.
Thankfully, my husband is a very open man and, while he didn’t quite understand why I would want to become pregnant for someone else, he did trust and support the decision that I made. Once he had the chance to meet this wonderful couple, he was all in and happy to help however he could.
My boys were a little trickier. They were 6 and 2, both too young to really understand what was happening but old enough to see that something was changing. In speaking with them, I learned that this was a process and a conversation that we would need to have over and over again.
I kept the language simple and age appropriate, but honest too: “This couple wanted to have a baby and they need a woman to help and Mommy is going to help them.” We talked a lot about what it would be like when baby B would be born and how she would go to live with her dads and not with us. They also met the Intended Parents and got to know them as new members of our family.
Not surprisingly, they had lots of questions. We answered each one as honestly as possible, and by the time the baby was born, the surrogacy was just a fact of life. There was nothing unusual about the fact that mom was helping another family have a child. They still love to see pictures and updates and get excited to see her when we all have a chance to visit.
Ultimately, your kids will follow your lead. If you present surrogacy as not a big deal, they won’t make a big deal out of it. If you make it weird or unusual, they will see it as such as well.
Extended family and friends
Once I discussed this with my immediate family, it was time to tell my extended family. Each of these conversations was a little different, as each family member needed a different approach.
My sister was easy – she had a few questions about the technicalities but was supportive and easy to talk to. My mom, on the other hand, was a whole other story. I made the decision to tell her immediately, once the decision was final. She was understandably nervous and scared and didn’t want me to proceed with the surrogacy pregnancy. She had tons of questions and fears, and would call periodically over the next few weeks and months with even more.
I found that it helped to present surrogacy confidently because she needed reassurance that this wasn’t a rash or impulsive decision and to know that I would be protected throughout the process. Like my kids, she needed time to get used to the idea and to see that it wasn’t weird or unusual. Her excitement for this couple as the delivery day neared was heartwarming and she still loves seeing the updates that I can share with her.
We began to share more about the process with our other family members and friends once the pregnancy was confirmed. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how some of our family members would take the news, but was touched by the support that we received every step of the way.
Our expanded circle
While I was somewhat prepared for telling our family and friends and the people in our immediate circle, I was not at all prepared for how to handle the other people in our daily lives who saw me pregnant, but who I knew would not see me with a baby after delivery. People like our kid’s school teachers, or tae kwon do instructors, or even the cashiers at the local grocery store whom I saw each week when I did our shopping.
I had no reason to inform of them of the decision I had made with my uterus, but I didn’t want them to think that something terrible had happened or that I lost the baby during delivery.
In the end, the decision on whether or not to disclose was made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the likely impact of them knowing, or not knowing, the truth.
Any woman who’s had a baby knows that a pregnant belly is an invitation for strangers to start asking all sorts of private questions. “Is this your first kid?” “Is it a boy or girl?” “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”
These questions from perfect strangers were really tricky, especially when my kids were around! I didn’t necessarily want to explain my decision to random people, yet I didn’t want my kids to either think I was lying, or call out my lie in front of someone else. It’s also tough because you don’t know how others feel about surrogacy and the last thing you want to do is invite judgey comments from strangers, especially in front of your kids.
I found it best to be vague whenever possible. “Nope, not my first.” “It’s a boy!” And while I can’t say the same about everyone’s experience, I must say that I never heard a negative comment or had anyone say anything to me that was less than supportive.
Tips for Telling Others About Your Surrogate Pregnancy
There is no magic formula for knowing who to tell what, how, and when. However, there are a few things you should think about before informing the people around you of your decision.
- Your relationship: You should consider your relationship with each person, as well as their likely response to the information. Some people would do better with more information upfront; others might not want to know any of the details. Frame your approach with each person in a way that works for them.
- Be prepared: There are many common questions that tend to come up in conversations about surrogacy: How can you give up your baby? How did you get pregnant? What do your kids think? Having a thought out and prepared response can make answering these questions a little easier and less intimidating.
- Be confident: Know that you made an incredible and selfless decision to help someone else expand their family. People may have negative things to say or be less than supportive of your decision, but remember that it is or was your decision, and you should own that. You are doing an amazing thing!
- Be discreet: While it’s okay to let your family and friends in on your decision, don’t forget to respect the privacy of your Intended Parents. Make sure to keep personal details or information out of your discussion. This includes social media posts as well.
- Ask for help: If you have questions or concerns about talking to others about your surrogacy, don’t hesitate to reach out to others who have been in your position. Your surrogacy case manager is a great place to start, as is speaking with another woman who has also been a surrogate. If you don’t know anyone personally, there are lots of support groups that can help connect you to someone.
Above all, remember that the decision to become a surrogate was a personal one and you are under no obligation to discuss it with anyone you don’t feel comfortable with (with the exception of your spouse for legal reasons). However, don’t forget that being a surrogate does require help and support from the people around you. While you may be nervous about disclosing such personal information, you may be pleasantly surprised at just how supportive people can be.