Thursday 21 June 2018

What Not To Say To A Surrogate Or Intended Parent

I understand that the vast majority of people haven’t come across surrogacy in ‘real-life’ and may not know what to say to those involved.
Last week I started back to work after my own maternity leave sporting a rather sizeable 19 week baby bump - whilst the majority of people were very supportive, I will be honest in saying that I did receive a few stares and sideway glances. I have also noticed that people don’t want to ask me about the pregnancy or how I’m doing as the baby isn’t coming home with me. People seem to forget that I am still going through a pregnancy, just like I did with my daughters. I still get the sickness, aches, swollen ankles and all other symptoms whilst juggling parenting, working, and now, an academic course. I will also still have to endure the labour regardless of whose baby I am cooking.
This post is to outline some things of which you should not say to a surrogate or to an intended parent. I took to surrogacy social media groups to obtain a few of these quotes of which people have actually had said to them.

What Not To Say To A Surrogate
"Oh I could never give up my baby"- I couldn't either so it's a good thing I'm not! I have two daughters of my own who are, quite frankly, more than enough for me. The baby that I'm cooking wouldn't exist if it wasn't for my intended parents so it most certainly isn't mine. Also, it's not "giving up" a baby, it's giving it back to it's parents. I'm merely babysitting for nine months.
"Do you have to have sex with the intended father?"- No. Definitely no. Everything is done in a clinic, or via insemination. Sex definitely doesn't happen, ever.
"Can I hire you?"- It doesn't really work that way unfortunately. My womb is certainly not available for hire, especially if you are just going to ask out right.
"Are you being forced into it?"- Well this one is all very Handmaid's Tale isn't it? No, I'm not being forced. Every woman has their own reasons for wanting to be a surrogate; mine come from my own experiences with pregnancy and the fact that I love being pregnant. I also know how much love my children bring to me so why not give that to someone else too?
"How much money do you make?"- This one has to be the most common misconception that people have surrounding surrogacy. In the UK it is illegal to make a profit from being a surrogate. We get expenses yes, but this is to ensure that we are not out of pocket during the pregnancy and thereafter. I have gone into more detail about what expenses cover here.
"What if you want to keep the baby?"- I've actually had this asked to me a few times now, and my answer has always been the same. If I ever had an inkling that that could happen, then I would never have gone into surrogacy. I would never risk playing with another couple's lives like that and the majority of surrogates feel the same. There have been some cases where the surrogate has ended up keeping the baby, but these are rare and very few and far between.

What Not To Say To An Intended Parent
"Is there a list that you can pick surrogates from?"- I'm afraid not! So if you are looking for a surrogate with a specific hair colour, eye colour, education level then you will be looking for a long time. Whilst agencies may have surrogates on their database, intended parents cannot pick and choose who they want to carry their child. It is actually the surrogate who gets to decide this after getting to know a couple.
"Surrogacy is the easy way out/anything to keep your figure etc"- Surrogacy certainly is not an easy option. I can't imagine that any intended parent actually wants to be in that position where they have another woman carry their child for them. Couples who look into using a surrogate do so for all sorts of reasons; sexuality preventing them from carrying, medical reasons where the woman isn't able to carry a child, repeated failed fertility treatments, cancer treatment resulting in infertility, and so much more. I came across one lady who had been told it was a way of keeping her figure! When it comes to surrogacy, deep down no-one wants to be there, but amazing things do happen and beautiful friendships are formed from it.
"So what about their real parents?"- The intended parents are the real parents, regardless of who's egg or sperm was used. This is one that really grates on me - biology doesn't make you a parent, it's the love and commitment given to that child.
"How will you bond?"- A lot of people seem to think that if you aren't carrying the child yourself then bonding will be harder. I don't feel that this is the case. Intended parents tend to be there for every step of the way; from taking the pregnancy tests, the midwife appointments, scans, labour and more. My intended parents have been there for all of my midwife appointments and all of my scans - we also see each other on a regular basis too. I send them videos of the heartbeat on the doppler and, hopefully soon, they will get to feel their little one kick from the outside. They will also both be in the room for the labour and the intended mother will be the one having skin to skin once the baby is born.
"Do you not have any friends or family to do it for you?"- It's not really that simple - carrying a child for another person is a huge ask of someone, especially if they have a family of their own. However I have seen some amazing friend and family journeys which show just how fantastic surrogacy is.
"So who's the dad?"- This seems to be a common question that male couples come across who are using a surrogate. The answer? They both are!

I hope that this has helped some people who may not be too sure on what to say to those involved in surrogacy and can now avoid certain things that they may have thought appropriate to ask before.


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