The surrogacy process is extremely complicated. There are so many facets to it, and it is anything but linear. For most people, it is the final option to build their family, after trying many other routes first. I know this from personal experience, as we had our second son via surrogacy. I tried many rounds of IVF, experienced four losses, and waited years before we turned to surrogacy. I will forever be grateful to our surrogate, but one of the most difficult parts of the process for me was the lack of support for us, the intended parents.
I wholeheartedly agree that the surrogate should be supported, praised, and given so much love. She is doing an incredible thing for another family. Our surrogate literally gave us the gift of life with our son, and there is no greater gift than that. With that said, everybody thinks about supporting her throughout the entire process, but nobody remembers to support the intended parents.
The intended parents are the parents of the child. People like me. And while I was extremely happy and grateful when our son was finally on the way to us, there was still a lot of trauma there and still a lot to heal from. Everything does not just go away when a baby is on the way. I think that people can understand this when someone is pregnant after they have had a loss or multiple losses, but because the intended parents are not pregnant themselves, people tend to forget about them. And even if they do consider them, people usually just expect the intended parents to be happy and smile and be grateful 100% of the time. And I promise you that they are happy and grateful all of the time, but other emotions are happening simultaneously. And that’s okay – they deserve support too.
I remember distinctly the first time I noticed this was happening. I had been going to my fertility doctor for a while. For years, I was the one that they focused on and the one they checked up on. And that is what I was used to, but suddenly that changed. When I went to the first appointment with our surrogate, I was told to stand off to the side. I immediately felt invisible. The doctor didn’t even acknowledge me, I don’t think he even noticed I was standing there. All of the attention was on our surrogate, as it should have been, but I felt forgotten immediately. I felt like no one cared about me at all, even though this was still my baby. I wanted to scream – I am standing right here! Remember me? Your patient? The MOM? It felt so lonely and isolating. But I also did not think I had a right to say anything or ask for support because I was terrified to have any impact on the process. I just wanted everything to go smoothly, so I just shut my mouth and smiled. But that should not be the expectation for intended parents.
It can be very difficult to know how to support someone going through infertility in general. To help remedy this, I wrote a book on this topic called “How To Help Friends & Family Through Infertility”. This more generally covers how to support people as well as information about many infertility diagnoses. Here I will outline a few ideas of how to specifically support intended parents.
This is a good start to help support the intended parents. Overall, if you are a support person for the intended parents, you are there for them. I promise you the surrogate has support elsewhere. She has support from her family and friends, from the intended parents themselves, from every single doctor, from a psychologist, from the agency if they’re working with one, and even more. Every single person, including every stranger, is supportive of her. The intended parents do not have anyone sometimes. So please be that person for them, and be there for only them. That is my strongest piece of advice: be there for them and for them alone. Trust me, that is rare for intended parents, and it will mean everything to them.
For continuing suggestions on support, advice, and more, follow me @ourbeautifulsurprise on Instagram. I regularly talk about my journey to motherhood, aiming to break stigmas and spread awareness and support for those going through infertility, miscarriages, surrogacy, and beyond.