When it comes to the subject of surrogacy, there’s a lot of curiosity and possibly even misinformation floating around in the world. When you’re a surrogate, or even if you work in the surrogacy industry, you get asked a lot questions about how surrogacy works. Of these queries, some of them can be a bit weird, and dare I say inappropriate at times.
This blog post is to address many of the questions I’ve either been asked by inquisitive persons, or messages and comments I have to respond to on social media about surrogacy. As you can imagine, the internet trolls love to get their kicks by dehumanizing and sending harassing comments and questions to surrogates. But I’ve worked in marketing for a long time and I’ve got thick skin. My hope is to debunk and clarify some false information, especially if it could possibly be preventing a woman from pursuing her own surrogacy journey.
Common Questions For Surrogates About the Baby
Can a surrogate keep the baby?
This answer to this question is a vehement NO. Under no circumstances should a surrogate expect or feel entitled to keep the surro baby. This baby already has parents (or a single parent) and a loving home waiting for her/him. The surrogate’s only role is to help another family who cannot carry their own children.
If you are considering being a surrogate but have concerns about difficulties handing the baby over to the parents, then surrogacy is not for you. From the very start of the process, surrogates need to feel 100% confident about their role and respect the rights of the parents.
Most experienced surrogates will tell you that rather than bonding with the baby, they end up bonding with the parents. During the course of a surrogacy journey, the surrogate will come to know the parents for the wonderful people that they are. Many intended parents have suffered infertility struggles, miscarriages, prior failed transfers, and all kinds of other struggles. Helping these intended parents become whole and having their children safely in their arms is all that matters at the end of a surrogacy journey.
Do surrogates give up their own babies?
To answer this question, you need to look at the two types of surrogates.
Gestational Carriers are surrogates who have no biological connection to the baby they carry. They get pregnant through IVF with embryos that are made in a fertility clinic laboratory from an egg and sperm from either the biological parents or a donor.
Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate does have a biological connection to the baby because she donates her egg in addition to carrying the baby. So technically speaking, yes, traditional surrogates do give up parental rights to their biological baby that they carry during a surrogacy pregnancy.
In modern times, the vast majority of surrogates are gestational carriers and they are not handing over their biological child to the intended parents. The baby born from a gestational carrier is almost always biologically connected to at least one of the intended parents.
Traditional surrogacy does still exist and is practiced by some specialty surrogacy agencies. Any woman who is considering being a traditional surrogate should take a pause and consider the emotional and psychological implications of carrying a biological child for intended parents. Not all women are suited for this type of surrogacy, and it is recommended to speak with a surrogacy specialized mental health care provider about any concerns.
Questions About How Surrogates Get Pregnant
Do surrogates have to have sex with the father of the baby?
This question may seem silly if you’re already an active member in the surrogacy community. But you’d be amazed at how many times surrogacy agencies receive this question during the first initial screening calls. The answer is a big fat NO!
Gestational carriers are the most common type of surrogates and they get pregnant via IVF at a fertility clinic. Traditional surrogacy is where surrogates donate their own eggs, and they could possibly get pregnant through insemination at the clinic. But under no circumstances are surrogates expected to get pregnant through sexual intercourse with the father of the baby. If anyone ever even suggests such a thing, do not work with them!
Do surrogates get inseminated?
While insemination does occasionally happen with traditional surrogacy, it is much less common in modern times. In the case of insemination, the surrogate would be both donating her own eggs as well as carrying the growing fetus.
Nowadays most surrogacy agencies and clinics work exclusively with gestational carriers, where the surrogate does not use her own eggs and she has no biological connection to the baby. Gestational carriers get pregnant with surro babies through the process of IVF.
If you are interested in applying to be a surrogate but are put off by the idea of being inseminated, take comfort in the fact that there’s other options available.
What’s with all the surrogate pee sticks measuring HCG levels?
After a surrogate has had embryo transfer at the fertility clinic, both the intended parents and surrogate are very eager to find out if the embryo implanted and the transfer was successful. And thus begins the parade of all the pee sticks.
If you follow the social media accounts of surrogacy agencies, you will often see the progression of little lines on the pregnancy tests. They begin from very faint lines to ultimately very dark lines clearly indicating a pregnancy. This happens as the HCG levels dramatically increase as the surrogate’s body recognizes the pregnancy.
It is common for intended parents to send a surrogate a Transfer Day gift package which includes many unopened pregnancy tests. They often encourage their surrogate to “pee on all the sticks” and check for any signs of pregnancy every day after transfer. If she is in fact pregnant from a successful transfer, the pregnancy line will start out faint and then build-up to a solid line after a week.
Of course, this is all fun at home and not an official pregnancy diagnosis. In about 7-10 days after transfer, the surrogate will head back to the fertility clinic to get her HCG levels measured. The medical professionals will be the ones to assess the viability of the pregnancy.
Questions About Surrogates and the Intended Parents
What if the parents decide they don’t want the baby?
Women who are just beginning the application process of surrogacy may have the concern that they could possibly be welcoming an unwanted baby into the world.
For the intended parents, the process of having a baby with the help of a surrogate is a very long and arduous process. It often takes years for parents to get to the point of matching with a surrogate, not to mention the hefty financial and emotional toll.
You can rest assured that almost all intended parents want nothing more than to have a baby that they will care for wholeheartedly. They did not decide to start this journey on a whim, but rather after years of deliberation and sacrifice.
What if the parents split up and get a divorce during a surrogacy journey?
Just like with couples who naturally conceive their children, intended parents going through marital problems will hopefully handle their personal business with their child’s best interest at heart. The private matters of the couple shouldn’t involve the surrogate and the agency should shield the surrogate from any volatile scenarios.
What if the intended parents decide to abort the surrogate’s pregnancy?
The only time a surrogacy pregnancy should be terminated is if there’s a health risk to the surrogate or baby, and/or projected low quality of life for the child due to genetic disorders or health risks. Under no circumstances should a surrogate’s pregnancy be terminated because the parents just “changed their minds” and no longer want to be parents. This is completely unethical and goes against everything surrogacy stands for.
Can a surrogate ask her intended parents to name the baby after them?
The surrogate asking her intended parents to name their baby after them is an inappropriate request, no matter how close the relationship is between the two parties. There are boundaries that should not be crossed, and the surrogate weighing in or making name suggestions for the surro baby is unacceptable and crossing a boundary.
There definitely have been surrogacy journeys where the baby was either named after or given a name honoring the surrogate, but it is completely up to the parents what they name their own child.
Questions About the Surrogacy Industry
Is surrogacy exploitation of women?
The question of exploitation of surrogate women is one that opponents to surrogacy regularly raise. To be clear, surrogacy is 100% voluntary and surrogate applicants must go through several rounds of screening to ensure that they are completely aware of the process and possible risks.
Most surrogates will tell you that helping a family welcome a child of their own is a very rewarding experience, often forming lifelong friendships and bonds. All surrogates are mothers themselves and they understand the longing and deep rooted desire to be a parent.
We take the stance that not only is surrogacy not the exploitation of women, it is in fact empowerment of women to help other families while helping their own families financially.
How much money do surrogates make?
In general it is considered rude to ask people what their income is. But for some reason folks feel entitled to know how much money a surrogate is making for her journey. If you’re a surrogate who gets asked this questions, don’t feel obligated to share your compensation. You can give a general response such as: “It varies for every surrogate.” If you want to be open about it, that’s your choice, but it’s nobody’s business but your own.