8/8/2011 12:22 PM
By Alissa Butterfass
For those of you considering gestational surrogacy, please know there is no one right way to go about it. Here are just some thoughts I can share based on my own experience (which I blogged about here and here). I am always very open and candid about what I went through, so if you’d like to discuss further, please feel free to contact me through ACHA.
1. To the extent that you are comfortable, let people know you are thinking about surrogacy. You never know who might know someone who has already been through it. Once I started telling people, I was connected to friends of friends of friends who had children via surrogacy and who were generous with their time, advice and support. Invaluable!
2. If you are looking for a good place to start your research, try www.surromomsonline.com. In addition to general information and resource listings, there are very active forums where members will provide a variety of perspectives on all issues.
3. Take your time upfront to do research. I know that once you decide you want a child, you want to make that happen ASAP. But research several lawyers and agencies before making a decision. Ask for references and pepper them with questions. Take your time to find the right carrier as well. Believe me, once that baby is in your arms the extra weeks or months won’t matter.
4. You (and your spouse/partner if applicable) should have some open and candid conversations about certain surrogacy-related topics. Among others:
a. Testing, termination and reduction: Would you want the carrier to have an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS)? Would you ever consider terminating a pregnancy? Under what circumstances? Would you consider or want to reduce if the carrier was carrying multiples?
b. Proximity: Is it important to you that the carrier live nearby? Do you want to attend all doctors’ appointments?
c. Carrier/parent communications: How often do you think you’ll want to be in contact with the carrier during this process? Do you prefer email, phone, text, Skype? What do you want to talk about? Some women want the carrier to describe every craving, aversion and mood swing while others just want to know what the doctor said at the carrier’s check up.
d. Postpartum relationship: Do you want to stay in contact with the carrier after your child is born? What type of relationship do you envision – in-person visits, annual calls or cards? Will the carrier become an “Auntie” to your child and a friend to you, or will you not be in contact after the baby is born?
These are questions you will need to address on your Intended Parent profile and will need to discuss openly with potential carriers.
5. Keep a notebook and pen nearby each time you speak to your carrier, and take notes. They’ll be helpful in fostering future conversations as well as choosing birthday and holiday gifts. For example, my carrier once mentioned a particular brand of makeup she liked so I had a gift certificate sent to her.
6. People will unwittingly make insensitive comments about surrogacy. Try not to let them bother you. They’ll joke that you’re lucky you don’t have to give up drinking (or sushi, or cheese, etc.) when you’d gladly say no thanks to the vodka tonic if you were able to go through a pregnancy. They’ll say they’d happily be your surrogate but can’t because of ____________ (fill in your favorite excuse here), not knowing that an empty offer is more hurtful than no offer at all. Accept that your friends and family mean well.
7. Please know that you will not feel any differently about this child than one you may have carried on your own. You will bond with this child. You will LOVE this child with all your heart. I promise!
Alissa Butterfass was born with Transposition of the Great Vessel, which was corrected with a Mustard procedure at age 2. In addition to being a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, wanna-be author and chocolaholic, she works part time as a senior marketing manager at a Fortune 500 company and volunteers as the Co-President of her local chapter of a nonprofit organization.