Surrogacy is a collaboration, a coming together of a group of fully informed consenting adults all with one common goal: helping you become a parent. And as with any collaboration, this passion project has some necessary ingredients that will lead to success and help your surrogacy journey be something you can treasure.
Here are my 7 tips:
- Trust is a foundation: it is scary and challenging to trust a whole group of strangers to do something for you that is one of the most important things you have ever wanted. Your team of experts will include a doctor, lawyer, psychologist, insurance expert, agency, surrogate and if necessary an egg or sperm donor, and trust is essential to make this all work. As the parent you will have all the decision making power but there are things that you just can’t control and in all of your decisions you’ll be relying on your team. So it’s imperative that you put together a team that you can trust, so you can sleep at night and not spend 9+ months worrying about your baby. This trust is not blind trust—it encourages you to ask every question and be as involved as possible but ultimately trust the process.
- Good communication is key: because there is a team of people making your dream come true the lines of communication in all directions are really important. Decisions need to be made and sometimes instantly and you need to be able to talk to everyone on your team in an open and honest way. Your relationship with your surrogate is a real one and open communication between you will ensure that you feel included every step of the way.
- Mutual respect, authenticity and honesty are the cornerstones: The surrogacy partnership depends on everyone being honest and authentic and treating each other with respect. Secrets don’t work in the surrogacy relationship and full disclosure and transparency are imperative. You and your surrogate are the most important members of your team and your partnership is integral to success.
- Flexibility will get you through it: pregnancy and surrogacy are not linear processes. There are starts and stops, hurry up and waits, and many speed bumps—some that will create delays and set backs and even some that will seem devastating. Flexibility will get you through it. If ever there was a time to go with the flow—this is it.
- This is a marathon, not a sprint: This process will take time. And the timeline is not entirely predictable. Even though becoming a parent through surrogacy takes about 18 months (about 9 months of which are the actual pregnancy), from the time you decide you want to become a parent to the time you have your baby in your arms can be years. And just like in any marathon each mile has it’s own “personality and characteristics” so too will the “miles” in your parenting journey. Some will be hard, some easy, some joy-filled and some sad and scary, some boring and some will just feel long. All of this is normal and to the extent that you can try to be patient and know it’s a marathon you will be able to settle into the pace.
- Keep your eye on the outcome: The wish to be a parent is a fundamental human trait. It’s not for everyone but when it’s for you it is a compelling and unrelenting wish. Keeping your eye on the outcome–holding your baby and gazing into your baby’s eyes–will keep you going when the journey is hard and long. The success rates with surrogacy are so high that just about everyone who doesn’t quit has a baby. Hang in there.
- Be gentle with yourself: Surrogacy may not have been the way you thought you’d become a parent. Involving other people in something so intimate and so wanted can bring out some feelings you didn’t expect. Whatever you are feeling, thinking and going through—please be gentle with yourself and accept that this is your process. Most everyone reports that any misgivings or worries they had during the process disappear completely once their baby is born, but whatever you are going through now is totally normal. So get whatever support you need from family, friends and professions but also just be gentle with yourself wherever you are in the process.
The good news: all of these tips and the roller coaster marathon that you go through to become a parent will be the very same things that MAKE you a great parent: trust, communication, respect, authenticity, flexibility, patience, keeping your eye on the big picture, and practicing self love and care are important lessons and qualities for any parent. When your baby is finally in your arms you’ll have already been practicing these important traits for months or years while you waited for your dream to come true.