Lately Zane and I have been getting a lot of questions from others considering surrogacy about what our family thinks of this journey we’re on. It’s a fair question – surrogacy is not something people encounter often, and families can find questions surrounding fertility to be intensely emotional and can have strong opinions guided by things like personal experiences, exposure, faith, and more.
We’ve been very fortunate to feel the full support of our families as we begin our journey to parenthood through gestational surrogacy. In fact, my mother was the one who initially suggested surrogacy to me when I came to her crying and defeated from the doctors appointment when I learned that I couldn’t carry. She didn’t miss a beat – motherhood, she told me, has nothing to do with being pregnant and everything to do with what happens once my future baby is in my arms.
Similarly, my MIL made a point of telling me that she was totally supportive of however Zane and I would be giving her grandbabies. Our three father-figures (my dad, Zane’s dad, and Zane’s step-dad) have been equally as wonderful – each has asked many questions, made a point to educate themselves on terminology, and are just eager to be active grandfathers no matter how that happens. Our sisters have plastered their social media with our surrogacy search, as have many of our extended family members.
Now this isn’t to say that everyone understood what surrogacy would entail (or even how it worked!) to begin with. There’s been a huge learning curve, but one that everyone in our circle has been more than happy to dive into. If you’re looking into surrogacy, or if you’ve already decided to pursue surrogacy but haven’t told your family yet, I would recommend this step-by-step approach.
Breaking the news
If possible, I’d recommend doing this in person. I wouldn’t call a family meeting or anything all that formal – it’s a serious conversation, but it’s made much easier if you tackle it in a relaxed setting. Explain your desire to get started on a family, disclose what you feel comfortable with about why it hasn’t happened yet, and let them know you’ve chosen to purse surrogacy. Letting people know that it’s already a decision you made leaves less room for pushback. Offer to explain how surrogacy works and answer questions, and be mindful of your own boundaries. When you begin to talk about anything fertility-related, it can open you up to intensely personal questions. If you’re not comfortable answering them, there’s nothing wrong with saying so.
Find some reputable resources relevant to your situation before heading into the conversation. You can save them on a note in your phone or a draft email and have them ready to share with those who ask. Surrogacy may be a very foreign concept to some of your family and there is a lot of misinformation out there, so it helps to guide them to the correct resources from day one. Good options include experienced surrogates who share their stories publicly, your fertility clinic website, the Assisted Human Reproductive Act, a reputable surrogacy agency, and first-hand experiences from other Intended Parents like us!
Expect to feel emotional
You’re going to have strong emotions as you slowly tell your family members, and that’s normal! You’re being incredibly vulnerable, and you’re mentally coming to terms with ‘giving up’ the concept of carrying your own child. You’re allowed to feel sad (or even defensive). Remember that when the people you love are trying to learn and understand surrogacy, they don’t necessarily know which comments might be intensely hurtful or painful for you. As much as it’s their job to be kind and compassionate, it will save you a lot of heartache to be honest with them if you feel they cross a line or you’re feeling judged.
Don’t offer to be their shoulder to cry on
Some family members may feel emotional or sad about your choice. You have enough on your plate – it’s not your job to make them feel better. If someone expresses a sadness that you won’t be pregnant, or a disappointment that you’re putting your partner through a surrogacy journey, that’s an issue they need to resolve for themselves. The other adults in your family can process their complicated emotions independently, with the help of another family member, or in therapy.
If you are considering surrogacy, know that despite what your family thinks, you will be welcomed by a wonderful community of compassionate individuals that are here to support you every step of the way—including us!