5 Questions You Have About Being a Surrogate for a Friend or Family Member
If you’re interested in being a surrogate for a friend or family member, there are some important things you should know first.
Sometimes, a hopeful single parent, LGBT couple or a couple faced with infertility will turn to surrogacy as a way to have a biological child. And, rather than find a surrogate mother through a matching service with a surrogacy agency, they may turn to a friend or family member to help them instead.
If you’ve been approached about being a surrogate for a friend or family member, you’ve come to the right place.
Becoming a surrogate mother for a family member or a friend is not a decision you should take lightly. While you will be providing a priceless gift for someone you know and love, there are important things you should be aware of before you make this commitment.
Being a surrogate for your sibling, friend or other family member is a complicated process that can permanently affect your relationship if you’re not well prepared. Because of the legal, emotional and financial challenges involved with surrogacy, it’s best to work with an experienced surrogacy agency or professional to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
You should talk extensively to a surrogacy specialist and the person asking you to be a surrogate before you make your decision. To understand the fine details of becoming a surrogate for a family member or friend, read on for answers to some of the questions you may have.
1. Can I be a surrogate mother for my friend/sister/brother/cousin/etc.?
While surrogacy laws vary by state, it’s usually possible for you to pursue a gestational surrogacy for a family member or for a friend. Although you will carry your family member or friend’s baby, you will not be this child’s legal mother, so you won’t have to worry about any legal relationship to the child you carry. Choosing to become a surrogate mother for a family member or friend not only provides the lifelong gift of parenthood, but it can also make their parenthood journey less stressful if there’s an established sense of trust and love between surrogate and intended parents.
2. How do I become a surrogate mother for a friend or family member?
The surrogacy process is a long one, even if you know the intended parents. While you will not have to wait to be matched with intended parents, it’s highly recommended that you complete all the other steps of the surrogacy process with a surrogacy agency to ensure success.
The first step in being a surrogate mother for a family member or a friend is deciding whether surrogacy is really right for both parties involved. As a surrogate, you will need to recognize the emotions you’ll experience growing and giving birth to a child that isn’t yours and think about whether you’re ready to commit to the legal and medical surrogacy process. Because you know the intended parents, you may feel like this will be an easy process, but surrogacy can test your relationship in ways you never anticipate.
For example, if you will carry a sibling’s child, old feelings of sibling rivalry may emerge, especially if you are becoming a surrogate mother for a sister. While she will be incredibly grateful that you are carrying her child, it may also cause underlying feelings of jealously that she cannot do it herself. In addition, you will have to differentiate between your original friend/family relationship and the new relationship you will have as surrogate mother and intended parents. You should not feel pressured to do anything you’re uncomfortable with just because you have a close relationship with the intended parents.
Before beginning the medical surrogacy process, being a gestational surrogate for a friend or family member requires you to meet with your respective lawyers to ensure all legalities are covered in a legal contract. This contract will lay out any financial compensation, possible risks from the pregnancy and expectations for both parties to establish the intended parents as the biological parents of the child. While you may think a legal contract is unnecessary if you know the intended parents well, it’s important in binding each party legally to what’s expected of them.
After you sign the legal contract, you will begin the in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer process. As the surrogate mother, you will receive fertility treatments before the embryo is transferred to your uterus and, once it is, you will likely be required to rest for a few days afterward. Once the embryo is successfully implanted and a heartbeat is heard, your pregnancy will continue like most other non-surrogacy pregnancies (prenatal care, hospital plans, etc.) Depending on state laws, the intended parents may be able to obtain a pre-birth order during your second trimester to establish them as the legal parents of the child.
After the baby is born, you and the intended parents will be able to return home with a new connection that will last forever. For many surrogate mothers, helping a family member or friend reach their parenthood goal will create a stronger relationship than ever. Their child will likely know the role you played in their birth and may even stay in close contact with you, depending on what the parents are most comfortable with.
3. If I already know who I’ll be a surrogate for, why should we work with a surrogacy agency?
Because there are many challenges that come with being a surrogate mother for a family member or friend, it’s important that you work with someone who is an expert on surrogacy.
A surrogacy agency can screen you and the intended parents to make sure you’re both emotionally and physically prepared for this surrogacy journey, as well as serve as a coordinator between you and others involved in the process. Working with hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and attorneys on your own can be overwhelming, which is why a surrogacy agency can be so helpful.
Some surrogacy agencies to consider are:
- American Surrogacy
- Center for Surrogate Parenting, Inc.
- Simple Surrogacy
- Modern Family Surrogacy Center
4. I don’t feel comfortable accepting money from my family or friend; so, what if I don’t want to receive financial compensation?
One of the advantages of choosing a friend or family member to be a surrogate is a decrease in the intended parents’ surrogacy costs. They won’t have to pay for an agency’s matching services and, if you think you might want to be a surrogate for them altruistically, they will have to pay little or nothing for you to be their surrogate.
However, while this may seem like a good idea initially, it is important to consider some of the serious issues that can arise from an altruistic surrogacy. While these arrangements are completely legal and may work in some cases, choosing an altruistic surrogacy may leave the intended parents feeling in debt to you — like they will never be able to repay you for what you’ve done for them. This can cause feelings of discomfort and guilt that can quickly harm your relationship.
But they’re not the only ones who can be affected. As the surrogate mother for a family member or friend, you might begin to feel resentful that they are taking advantage of you (even if you didn’t anticipate these feelings at the beginning). Carrying someone’s child isn’t an easy task; if you don’t feel appreciated for doing so, your relationship could be at stake.
To avoid these difficult emotions, it’s highly recommended that you agree on some sort of compensation when you become a surrogate for a family member or friend. It’s completely understandable if your close relationship with your family member or friend makes you uncomfortable accepting money from them, but if you agree on compensation that you’re both happy with, it will be beneficial in the long run.
To do so, it’s important you and the intended parents both have your own attorney. These attorneys will negotiate compensation on your behalf, which can help relieve some of the discomfort of communicating with friends and family members directly about money.
5. What should I expect as a surrogate mother for a family member or friend?
Being a surrogate mother is difficult enough in itself, but when you add long-established relationships into the mix, things can get complicated.
Your relationship with the intended parents will change, no matter what. Whereas before you were just friends or family members, now you will have a deeper connection forever because of your surrogacy journey.
Know that if you choose to be a surrogate for your sister or brother, old sibling rivalries may reemerge in feelings of jealousy over who is actually pregnant with the child. It’s important to be patient and understanding throughout the surrogacy process; many of the emotions felt are simply born from stress and an overwhelming desire to be parents.
You also need to establish clear boundaries with the intended parents. Although you know them as family or friends, they cannot be involved in every aspect of your life while you are pregnant. You will need to create your own space for a healthy pregnancy and relationship with them. Communication is key in this process; be honest about how you’re feeling and how the intended parents can help you. While it may be awkward to voice your concerns openly with someone that you care about, it’s integral to preserve your relationship with your family member or friend after the surrogacy is complete.
One way to make sure your thoughts are heard is by working with a surrogacy agency, which will provide you an experienced social worker or counselor to facilitate contact between you and the intended parents — especially if you are struggling with disagreements or emotional challenges. This surrogacy specialist can also help you with all of the emotional aspects of your surrogacy journey (either through their agency or by referring you to another professional) and can step in between you and the intended parents if needed.
If your friend, brother or sister wants you to be their surrogate, keep in mind that you always have the option to say no. You should never commit to a surrogacy unless you’re completely ready, no matter what kind of previous relationship you have with intended parents.
But, if you think you are ready to be a surrogate mother for a family member or friend, contact a surrogacy agency and have a thorough discussion with the intended parents before moving forward. No matter how long or complicated the process may be, remember that, in the end, you will be providing your friend or family member with one of the most precious gifts possible — and that you will have an even stronger relationship with them than ever before.
Are you interested in becoming a surrogate for a friend or family member? Want to learn more about the surrogacy process? Request free surrogacy information here with no obligation.