Talking About Surrogacy with Your Family, Friends, and Community
Talking about surrogacy is different than talking about a traditional pregnancy. When you are pregnant with your own child, maybe you quietly told your close friends and family first. Maybe you posted a quirky, cute image on Facebook or Instagram or had a big party to celebrate. Maybe you didn’t even tell anyone and they were just surprised the next time they saw you. The point is — you followed some kind of plan to let the people closest to you know about your pregnancy. Whether you realized it or not, you had an internal list of who “must know now,” who “can know eventually,” and who “finds out on an as-needed basis.”
Talking about surrogacy is different, of course. But you’ll still want to think about what to say to your children, your extended family, your friends or neighbors, and your faith community. Additionally, you’ll want to plan what to tell some others in your children’s social circle, such as their teachers or their friends’ parents.
The scripts below will provide suggestions on how to answer common (sometime awkward!) questions and what to say to extra curious people. Plus use our surrogacy glossary and gestational surrogacy FAQs to help aid with these often tricky discussions.
Talking About Surrogacy with Your Partner
Before you even begin the journey toward becoming a surrogate, you need to have a heart to heart with your partner. Let them know what interests you in being a surrogate, what the risks and benefits are, what the surrogacy process is like. In fact, encourage them to read articles and blogs with you. It will give you both a good idea of what to expect along the way, and you’ll be able to work through your questions and concerns together (like, can you still have sex?). Read a heart-warming story from one surrogate’s husband.
Your partner must be 100% committed to you carrying a baby for another couple before you apply to any surrogacy agency. You don’t want to get further into the application process only to find out that they are against your decision! Reputable agencies will require that your partner is supportive and will include them in all the pre-screening and interview processes. This is because not only will your partner be affected by your pregnancy, but they will also play an important role in helping you throughout the next 11+ months. Whether that means driving you to and from OBGYN appointments, helping with more shared family responsibilities, or helping with injections injecting progesterone the first several weeks of the pregnancy — their involvement will be key in minimizing your stress and contributing to a healthy pregnancy.
You and your partner must also be physically together, not separated or living in different cities due to work or military duty.
A common objection that partners have is about the general safety of the process of surrogacy. Encourage them to get answers from your agency liaison, medical professional, or reproductive specialist.
Your partner will need to know how to talk to their friends and family, too. They may wonder why you’re pregnant — especially if your partner has had a vasectomy. They’ll need to know how to answer people’s questions, jokes, and other concerns.
(A common concern partners have is if you can still have sex while being a gestational carrier. The answer is yes, although there may be some days surrounding the embryo transfer that you’ll need to abstain from intercourse. Your fertility specialist and your OBGYN will be the best ones to ask for specifics.)
Talking About Surrogacy with Your Kids
Just as your partner is affected by your surrogacy journey, your children’s daily lives will be affected. They’ll have many questions — about their own origins, whether their position in your heart or family will change, whether they will be given to other parents, why you can’t snuggle them the same way when your tummy gets big.
Prepare them for your pregnancy and answer their questions along the way as much as you can and in age-appropriate terms. This will help them to not resent your pregnancy and the changes it brings to their lives, but instead to appreciate the gift you’re giving to another couple.
When to Tell Your Kids
A good time to talk to your kids about gestational surrogacy is after you’ve met your matched Intended Parents and the legal contracts are being drafted. Younger children can be told about the pregnancy even later.
How to Tell Your Kids
Explain what surrogacy is in age-level appropriate terms so they know what to expect. The older your children are, and the more they understand about reproduction, the more information it could be appropriate to tell them.
Young children won’t understand the details of what surrogacy entails, but they do need to know that the baby growing in Mom’s tummy is not their baby brother or sister. Don’t be surprised if your older children are less enthusiastic and more grossed out. It’s fairly common!
One way you can start the conversation with your younger children is by saying:
“We’re going to do something very special for another couple. Mommy is going to grow a baby for them in her tummy. When the baby is born, he or she will live with their own parents in their own house. I will still live here with you and be your mommy!”
Introduce your children to the Intended Parents — in person if at all possible, or else over Zoom. This helps them connect the dots and makes a complicated process seem more tangible. It will help them remember, “This baby will go to those parents.” It helps them share in the gift of life you’re giving to that couple.
How to Help Your Kids Answer Questions
Your child will undoubtedly be asked about your pregnancy by their friends, teachers, other parents, even strangers at the store. In their innocence and simple understanding of the situation, they won’t realize the impact their explanations will have on people. Help them prepare some answers ahead of time to avoid some misunderstandings and embarrassment in the future!
When you’re making a list of “who needs to know” about your decision to be a gestational surrogate, consider adding your child’s teacher or principal, and the parents of your child’s regular playmates.
Of course, even the most careful preparation can still result in an awkward phone call from school when your first grader informs their class that “mom is having a baby but we’re not keeping it.” As with every other moment of parenting, a sense of humor and a little flexibility will go a long way!
Talking to Your Friends about Surrogacy
In addition to your partner’s support, you’ll want the support of your close friends. They’ll be there to celebrate when you’ve been matched, when the embryo transfer is a success, when you go into labor. Or they can be there if you get sick and need extra help with your kids. They’ll be a shoulder to cry on if the embryo transfer fails the first time. While all your friends may not agree with your decision, that’s OK. Friends who have stood by your side through life’s ups and downs stuck with you through thick and thin already will also support you in this endeavor.
When to Tell Your Friends
Let your close friends know early on in the process. You could discuss it now while you’re thinking about becoming a surrogate, or wait until after you’ve been matched. Good friends will want to share in your excitement and be there for you from the beginning.
Talking to Your Family
Every family is different. Some relatives might be over the moon excited for you. Others might be hesitant or worried. Some may even be against you becoming a gestational carrier for their own reasons. Often, objections are made when people don’t understand what surrogacy entails.
Educate your family about the process. Tell them about the steps you’ve taken to protect yourself and your family legally, financially, and physically. Let them know you’re getting objective, sound advice from an attorney, your OBGYN, and a reputable surrogacy agency that adheres to ethical guidelines.
When To Tell Your Parents and Siblings and Other Family
You’re the expert on your family — you’ll know the best point in your pregnancy to tell them.
Talking to Your Faith Community
Whether it means attending a weekly service or meeting, taking part in social events, receiving life coaching and advice, or even supplementing your child’s education, a faith community can play a significant role in your daily life. That’s why it’s so important to understand their perspective on gestational surrogacy and know you’ll have their support before you get too far into the process.
It may come as a surprise to you, but not every faith, denomination, church, or faith leader holds the same views on assisted reproductive methods and ethics, let alone on gestational surrogacy. Some faiths or denominations will be supportive of your decision without reservation. Others will approve, but only in certain circumstances. Still others will disagree completely with gestational surrogacy under any circumstance.
Because faith can play such a significant part in the lives of gestational carriers and intended parents, part of the screening process for becoming a surrogate is ensuring that you have at least discussed surrogacy with your pastor or priest. Depending on your community, this discussion could happen over a phone call, a casual conversation, or a more formal discussion or meeting.
Talking About Surrogacy with Your Faith Community
When you call or speak with your pastor, you could say:
- “Being a gestational surrogate is something I really want to do. But first, I’d like to know how it could impact my faith community here. What is your opinion on that?”
- “Does the church / denomination have an official stance on surrogacy?”
If you’re hesitant about calling, you could look on the church or denomination’s website for an official position. You could search for “___’s official position on gestational surrogacy.”
When talking with your faith community, make sure you use the word “gestational” because not all surrogacy is created equal! Learn more about gestational surrogacy versus traditional surrogacy.
When to Talk to Your Faith Community
Talk to your pastor or priest in the beginning of the surrogacy process.
Should You Talk to Your Employer About Surrogacy?
It’s up to you when you tell your employer that you’re pregnant. And it’s completely up to you if you tell them you are a gestational carrier. It’s not any of their business how you got pregnant!
(If your employer is a religious institution that is against surrogacy, to the point where you would lose your job, we recommend that you reconsider becoming a gestational surrogate.)
Answering Strangers’ Questions About Surrogacy
Take a moment and think back to your last pregnancy. Especially once you started to show. How many people — complete strangers — asked you about your pregnancy? Offered their guess about the sex of your child? Suggested names you should consider or avoid? Now what about the questions they asked your kids? And that’s just a typical trip to Target!
By the end of those nine months, you likely had a few go-to answers:
- “Oh, I’m happy with whatever we have, as long as he or she is healthy.”
- “Yep, I’m ready to have this baby any day now!”
- “No, please don’t rub my belly….”
- “Of course Junior is delighted to be a big brother!”
- “I prefer not to talk about it.”
You get the picture.
People are inquisitive and (typically) well-meaning when they ask such personal questions.
When you’re a gestational carrier, answering those questions often leads to many more. Some women are comfortable talking about their pregnancy and personal life with any and everyone! Others are more private. It’s ok (in fact, it’s healthy!) to establish boundaries about what you will and will not talk about. It may help you to prepare some answers to common questions ahead of time.
Share these with your partner and children, so they can also be prepared when they’re peppered with questions!
Still unsure of what to say or what not to say? Here’s what other women have answered.
Scripts to Awkward Questions About Surrogacy
Often, these questions aren’t intended to be hurtful. People are genuinely curious, especially about something that is relatively new! You can look at these experiences as a time to kindly educate someone or to firmly state your boundaries.
Remember, not everyone needs to know the details even if they want to.
Q: “How much do surrogates make?“
A: “I’m not doing this for the money, but to help someone.”
A: “I get asked that question a lot. Why are you interested?”
A: “Wow, how much do you make in your job? I am making about $3/hour doing this, if I’m lucky.”
A: “This is a question I get asked often, and here’s what you need to know. Yes, I am compensated, and it’s for my risk in carrying this baby. How much is not something I am willing to share, but you can find some general information on the internet if you are interested in the compensation.”
Q: “Oh, you had your baby! But, where’s the baby?”
A: Yes, I was a gestational surrogate for a couple who struggled to have children, and now the baby is with them.”
Q: “Wait, didn’t your husband have a vasectomy!?”
A: “Haha, yes he did, and this is not his baby. I am a gestational surrogate for a wonderful couple who couldn’t have a baby otherwise without my help.”
Q: “How can you give the baby away?”
A: “I’m not ‘giving the baby away’, I am giving the baby back to its rightful parents.”
A: “It’s not my baby – I’m just babysitting for 9 months.”
Q: “Whose baby is it?
A: “The baby was created using the parent’s gametes (or the dad’s sperm and a donor egg; or donor embryos …). None of my biological material was used to create this baby.