One of the biggest challenges that intended parents will face on their surrogacy journey is letting go of control and trusting in the journey. While some people are naturally inclined to trust and relax into the process, it is far more common for intended parents to feel a lack of control during the surrogacy journey. This is totally understandable because the most important, precious thing you could possible imagine is technically in the hands of a stranger. And let’s face it, surrogacy is not cheap!
After 22 years in the industry, what I can say is that micromanaging doesn’t actually help the journey; rather, it creates a domino effect of stress and ultimately can drive a wedge between the intended parents and surrogate. This is why I strongly suggest that intended parents create a support network comprised of their agency and other related surrogacy professionals ahead of time to whom they can reach out as appropriate when such fears begin to creep in.
A good agency will also know how to empathize with you, value your concern, and know when there is something that should be discussed with the surrogate or if something is better let go. They will objectively balance your concerns with the overall dynamic of your process with your surrogate. Additionally, allowing your agency to be the one who brings up a concern with the surrogate is a much safer way to maintain the integrity of your relationship. A mental health professional who works in the field of assisted reproduction is a very good resource since they will be able to know when there is a valid concern versus a fear-based concern and help you feel safe. If your concerns are addressed in your legal contract with the surrogate, the attorney who represented you in that process can also be an objective source of advice regarding whether and how to address them. In essence, the relationship between you and your surrogate should remain all about support, compassion and positive encouragement and difficult conversations should come from the agency and other objective sources.
So long as your surrogate is not in breach of her contract, concerns that may arise in most cases require you to “let go and let God” as the saying goes. Our whole industry retains as much of the surrogate’s autonomy as possible for several reasons but primarily so that surrogacy does not inappropriately subjugate and commodify women. Pregnancy is not without risk, and your surrogate is willingly putting her body at risk. Despite the fact that she is carrying your baby, she is still entitled to her own personal and bodily autonomy.
So there are things your surrogate will be entitled to do that you will not be able to control: eating foods that are safe for pregnancy by U.S. standards; going on vacation or traveling as long as it is safe and cleared in advance with her OBGYN; selecting and changing her own doctors (so long as they are within her insurance network) if she does not feel comfortable with whom she is seeing; requesting her partner or person of her choice be with her during her birth, even if it means the intended parent(s) cannot be present in the room; maintaining or obtaining employment for work outside of the surrogacy (so long as it is safe per her OBGYN to do so), etc.
There are also, however, many important things that you will be able to control: that she stay in touch with you and the agency about all of her appointments with her OBGYN; that she sign a HIPPA form at the clinic/hospital for her second trimester (after transfer from the IVF clinic) through birth so that the you can speak directly with the doctor and/or nursing staff about any pregnancy-related questions; that she follow all dietary restrictions standard within the U.S. (also including avoiding alcohol, second hand smoke, or any non-approved pregnancy medications); that she adhere to any Covid-related safety precautions as suggested by her doctor(s) throughout the journeys, including, but not limited to, wearing a mask in public, hand-washing, or other standard safety measures.
As an agency, we know how difficult it is to put so much trust in someone you barely know to carry the most important thing in your world. We will do everything in our power to support you and your surrogate throughout this journey so that you feel safe and informed. It is normal and expected that you will have moments of fear and uncertainty, so our job together is to help you through those and be your sounding board and safety net while you take this beautiful leap of faith and maintain a positive, nurturing relationship with your surrogate.