Breaking Up is Hard to Do

By: Kelly Rummelhart

You’ve passed your screenings.  You’ve been matched.  Next you’ll be giving birth, right?  Well, not always.  Not everyone’s journey goes smoothly.  There are lots of bumps that can occur along the way . . . egg donor issues, medication issues, failed transfers, miscarriages, etc.  Some Intended Parents will decide to continue –search for a new donor, try different medications for their surrogate, go for another transfer with their surrogate…BUT some won’t.

When you sign on as a surrogate you usually think that everything will go as planned.  Never do you think that you’ll be, for lack of a better word, dumped.  Once you match with your Intended Parents, you move onto the contracts phase.  This is where you and your husband/partner, your IPs, and the lawyers work out all aspects of your journey.  So, if you hit some of these bumps and decide to part ways, your contract will be nullified.

Even though, in my own surrogacy journeys, we have had issues with egg donors in the past, I have lucked out with my part of the job.  My body took to the medications well (uterine lining at correct thickness) and of my only two transfers, I’ve gotten pregnant both times and carried to term.  But not all the surrogates I know have fared so well and when the “bumps” have occurred, some of them haven’t particularly enjoyed the outcomes.

There have been several who have gone through multiple transfers.  Some have stayed with the same IPs and found success.  Some decided to leave their IPs and some had IPs that decided to leave them.  There are a few that I know that did not respond to the medication, meaning, even with the weeks of injections, their uterine lining never reached where it needed to be.  I have one friend that this happened to last week.  After 4 cycles, some mock, some true with two different sets of IPs she was told that her services were no longer needed. OUCH!

Now, this is a hard place to be, I imagine.  You want more than anything to help a couple have a baby but your body is not cooperating.  Add to that a couple of times of the exact same thing,  and now you have a pattern.  She told my surro group that the Reproductive Endrocrinologist said he had spoken to her past RE and they had concluded she was not a good candidate for surrogacy.  Once her agency got that diagnosis, they let her know that it would be very difficult to match her again with her two past RE’s opinions, so after years of wanting to be a surrogate, her journey has ended.  Most of our online surro-group is telling her to try another RE, try another agency, possibly go independent . . . but I wonder if she’d have any luck.  Of course we’re not doctors because we all want to know why they couldn’t just increase her medication . . . but I’m going to assume they tried all the feasible options already, so their clients, The Intended Parents, could have a baby.

I can see all sides.  As a surrogate and a friend, I want nothing more than to support her in her decision to continue.  She is an amazing woman and anyone would be lucky to match with her.  As a friend of Intended Parents, I couldn’t full heartedly tell them she’d be a good bet.  It is such an expensive process that I’m sure most wouldn’t match with someone who had a “history” of not reaching the lining you have to have.  As an agency, whose (let’s be honest here) number 1 priority is the Intended Parents, not the surrogate, I understand why they would have to let her go.  Do you put a person with a history of striking out in your line-up?

Now, the reason I decided to write this post this week is that no matter how hard it is to make the decision to leave a surrogate, Intended Parents, or even an agency . . . can’t there be a nice way to do it?  I would think that a phone call may be hard, too emotional.  Think of it like breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend in high school- believe it or not, there are several parallels to the IP/surrogate relationship and that type of relationship.  We’ll get to that in a separate post.

Perhaps an email?  I don’t know but after hearing what her IPs emailed her, I know how NOT to do it.  Now, let me preface this by saying, I’m not sure what the RE or Agency told them about how to sever the match.  I understand the Dr. advised them that she would not be a good surrogate for them and I know her agency let her go.  I’m sure in the next few days, because they have a legal contract, she’ll probably receive papers in the mail cancelleing their contract; this is to be expected.

Once she found out the RE wouldn’t move forward with her, she emailed her IPs a semi-long, heartfelt email and expected a thoughtful email back.  Instead they sent her this:

“I don’t know what to say except to refer you back to Dr. ****. Take care.”

Yup- that was it!  She met with them, they matched, they had been emailing and they were a week away from the transfer.  She had taken weeks of shots and other medications.  She was about to put her body through the ringer for the next 9 months . . .  put her own needs and some of her family’s on hold.  She was going to carry and birth their child/children.  And that’s all she got . . .  an email equivalent to a punch in the stomach.

Now, I’m not sure if my anger is because I’m a Scorpio, a loyal friend, or a surrogate who is trying to put myself in her shoes . . . but if that email were to me? I’m not sure how I would handle it.  I’m seeing red and it wasn’t even directed at me.  I’m dumbfounded.  My first thought was, how could she not see this cold, totally detached behavior at the match meeting and within their profile?  Later we would find out there were a few other “red flags” . . . but regardless, let me get to my point.

Not everything will work out.  You may need to leave your IPs or they may leave you.  But when this happens, do so with integrity and please be thoughtful because you are dealing with people who either want a baby so badly, or who are so empathetic they want to help someone have a baby.  As surrogates, a lot of us (not all) bond quickly with our IPs.  It helps remind us why we do what we do and who it is for.  If for some reason you have to dump us, please say more than “I don’t know what to say except to refer you back to Dr. ****. Take Care.”  Instead, try something like this:

“We are beside ourselves with the news that we can no longer use you as a surrogate.  For (weeks/months/years) you have been an important part of our journey towards our dream of having our own children.  Please know that as we continue this journey without you, we will always appreciate the fact that you were so selfless to try to help us.  It is women like you that make surrogacy possible.  Thanks again for your part in trying to help us.   It meant a lot!”

Was that so hard?

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