You might initially think that surrogacy support and counseling is only reserved for situations where something goes wrong or when someone in the surrogacy relationship is struggling.
But, this type of counseling is actually most beneficial when it’s completed before and after the surrogacy process, including when everything is going great — not just in the event of an issue arising.
Whether you’re an intended parent or prospective surrogate, you should be fully aware of the importance of surrogacy support before you start. So, to help you out, here’s information on who should receive surrogacy counseling, when you should take advantage of it and where you can find it:
Everyone Should Complete Counseling: Before, During and After Their Surrogacy Journey
When a hopeful intended parent or prospective surrogate reaches out to a surrogacy professional to begin the process, they’ll have to complete a number of screening requirements, including psychological evaluations. Trust us: It’s not as scary as it sounds.
You’ll be required to meet with a professional to discuss the mental and emotional demands of surrogacy and to assess if you’re ready for this life-changing journey.
If you do decide that you’re ready to take on surrogacy, you’ll next receive pre-surrogacy counseling. Similarly to how you’ll be walked through the legal and practical steps of surrogacy, this pre-surrogacy counseling is done to help prepare you for the emotional aspects of surrogacy, which are just as important.
When you work with a surrogacy professional, you should have access to support and counseling throughout the process. This will be important for addressing any emotional concerns you may have as they come up, as well as building your relationship with your surrogacy partner once you’re matched. Even the best intended-parent-surrogate relationships need a little outside mediation sometimes, and that’s where surrogacy support comes in.
Following the birth of the baby, everyone involved should check in for post-surrogacy support. Whether the intended parents need advice about telling their surro-baby his or her story, or the surrogate needs resources to help with postpartum emotional struggles, your surrogacy counselor will be an invaluable resource. Their assistance can also be helpful for maintaining your post-surrogacy relationship and keeping in touch.
Supporting Intended Parents
Every intended parent comes to surrogacy for a different reason. This may have been your first choice for family-building, or it may be your last option to become a parent. You may have struggled with infertility grief, pregnancy loss, or painful failed attempts to expand your family.
Professionals that provide surrogacy support are aware of this and know that you need to mourn and move past these losses before you can fully commit yourself to surrogacy. So, they’ll provide the support you need — educating you about surrogacy and asking you questions about your emotional readiness for the challenges ahead. They’ll also be there to counsel you through any difficult emotions you encounter to help you have a strong relationship with your surrogate during your surrogacy journey.
There are also peer support options for intended parents at different stages of the process. Group support can be a beneficial way to hear stories from people who are, or have been, in your shoes. However, remember to have a “grain of salt” mentality when it comes to online support groups of waiting hopeful parents and parents who are raising children born via surrogacy. While peers can be a helpful source of comfort and commiseration, they’re not always the best source for unbiased facts.
A lot of women worry about the potential emotional impact of carrying someone else’s baby — and then leaving the hospital without a child after giving birth, even though that child isn’t theirs. With surrogacy counseling before and during the process, surrogates are educated about emotions they might experience and are guided through any complicated emotions they may feel during the process itself.
Access to a surrogacy counselor is especially important for developing your relationship with the intended parents, just as it is for managing the stressors of IVF and pregnancy in your daily life. Experiencing setbacks like a failed transfer or medical problem is difficult for the intended parents, but is also often emotionally hard on the surrogate herself, who will also experience it in a physical manner.
This is why access to a professional counselor — as well as a strong personal support system — is invaluable to surrogates throughout their journeys.
After your surrogacy journey is over, it’s important that you still reach out for surrogacy support and counseling. Some women experience postpartum emotional difficulties or may want advice navigating a post-surrogacy relationship with the intended family. Whatever your needs, a counselor or therapist can help you navigate your post-surrogacy challenges.
Like intended parents, many surrogates find community and comfort in peer surrogacy support groups online or in person. There, they can talk with women who are currently in the process of surrogacy or who have carried a pregnancy for intended parents in the past. Again, remember that peer support groups shouldn’t be your primary resource for unbiased facts about surrogacy — it’s a place to share, support and be supported.
The type of surrogacy support you seek should be based on your individual needs. For example, an online support group is a great place to chat with other people who have had similar experiences, but it’s not a replacement for professional therapy or counseling.
Don’t be afraid to lean on your personal support group of friends and family members and especially your surrogacy professional, if you’re working with one! Your professional will likely have recommendations for surrogacy support and counseling options, so be sure to ask them for referrals to resources.
Here are some other options you can explore:
- RESOLVE support groups: Options for infertility, IVF support and more
- RESOLVE’s directory of professional counselors who work with parents of “non-traditional” family paths
- Infertility counselors such as: Kris Probasco (Kansas City), Kimberly Vandegeest-Wallace (The University of Kansas), Dr. Judy Washington (Summit, New Jersey), Dr. Patricia McBride-Houtz (Dallas, Texas), Dr. Stacey Scheckner (Tampa, Florida), Dr. Mary Riddle (State College, Pennsylvania), and more
- All About Surrogacy: Forums for parents and surrogates, informational articles and more
- Surrogate Mothers Online: A place to connect with other current and former surrogates
- Surrogate Mothers Facebook Group: A popular option for connecting with other current and former surrogates of all types
- All Things Surrogacy Facebook Group: Available to both intended parents and surrogates, although it’s mostly used as a way to find matches online
- Local therapists or support groups that specialize in surrogacy, ART, infertility and more
Parents and surrogates, wherever they’re at in their surrogacy journeys, need and deserve support. Receiving surrogacy counseling and support is a normal and very necessary part of the process — not a sign that something is going wrong or that you can’t handle things yourself. Increased access to surrogacy support improves relationships between intended parents and surrogates, benefits the children at the heart of surrogacy and enhances the entire surrogacy experience itself.
Looking for references to trusted surrogacy counselors? Reach out to a surrogacy professional today to get started.