By: Kelly Rummelhart
When the word gets around that you are going to be or have been a gestational surrogate, you get several different reactions. Of course, you get a lot of “I could never do that” and some “that is so wonderful!” Sometimes the other reactions you get may be . . .
“That’s great. My aunt can’t have a baby, you should carry for her,” says a friend.
“My daughter has been having difficulties for years, you should carry her baby,” says the older woman you work with.
All of a sudden, even if you’re matched with another couple, people start wanting to send you out to their friends and loved ones. Sometimes it is your own family. When my husband’s family found out I was going to be a surrogate, several mentioned how I should be the surrogate for his mother’s cousin and his wife. I would smile and say, “No, I don’t think that would work out well.” It came up again when I started my second journey, although this time, a few seemed a little peeved that I would not help them but would help complete strangers. So let me explain.
One reason why I wouldn’t help most family members, friends, or a co-worker is that I would not feel comfortable in that situation. What if at 20 weeks they found out their baby had some sort of issue that made them terminate the pregnancy? I am sure they are not going to shout from the rooftops what really happened . . . instead I would be the surrogate that somehow lost their baby when everything was going completely fine. What did I do wrong? Obviously, I was the issue. I am not sure I would want to be surrounded by people who knew my IPs . . . telling me what to do all the time, reporting back, etc. I have birthed seven healthy babies, I know what the hell I’m doing and I like to have my own life too.
I also find it interesting when people tell me how I should carry “so and so’s baby” and then add that I could save them a ton of money by doing it for free. Now, I’ve said this before: even though my number one reason for being a surrogate isn’t the money, there are certain costs and “pain and suffering” that I wouldn’t waive. Even with a friend being your surrogate you’d still rack up a bunch of costs and I would still expect a few things like housekeeping allowance, lost wages that come up when I can no longer comfortably do these myself. Also, I would never go independent, so that would require the couple to join up with my agency and that would cost them even more. Honestly, the surrogate’s compensation is not even 1/4 of the entire cost of a surrogacy. Even so, most couples I know can’t afford surrogacy, even if someone carries the baby for “free”.
Lastly, matching with Intended Parents that are right for you isn’t as easy as they want a baby and you have uterus. There are several things that need to be discussed and worked out and who’s to say that your sister’s best friend and his partner are the right match for you? Just because you know a surrogate doesn’t mean that she’s the surrogate for you; your ideas of what the journey will look like may be very different.
Most of the surrogates I know, including myself, thought that we’d probably carry for our own sister(s), but that most other family members and close friends wouldn’t work out well. A few had said they think they might try to carry for a friend or family member but most didn’t think it was a good idea to mix “business with pleasure”. Most of us would hate for a close relationship to be tarnished in anyway. As a lot of surrogates know, when IPs mention something to us, they tend to keep our feelings in mind, but friends and family just “tell it like it is” . . . which could lead to some issues and loss of friendship.
So, just because you know a surrogate it doesn’t mean that she’ll carry for anyone. And it’s funny that people think this and jump to conclusions. There are some things, including matches, that may be too close for comfort. One surro I know said that her boss heard she was going to be a surrogate and suggested she carry for him and his wife . . . YIKES! You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to see how that may turn out. I think I’ll just stick to my agency and strangers who become close friends.