As with any relationship, good communication, respect and trust are crucial for a successful relationship between commissioning parent(s) and a surrogate. It can be difficult to take the time needed to build a strong foundation of trust and commitment when the desire to have a child is so strong. However, the issues are complex and both you and your surrogate need time and space to think them through and to decide whether or not to proceed.
It is important to have a shared understanding of expectations for the pregnancy, the birth plan, information exchange beyond the birth and what kind of continuing relationship you will have after a child is born. Little issues can become big issues if they are not dealt with. If there are any potential ‘red flag’ issues that you don’t agree on, it is important to pay particular attention to these and to talk these issues through, even though these are likely to be challenging conversations. It is essential that you continue to like and respect your surrogate and are able to stay in touch for your potential child’s sake.
A surrogacy agreement enables you to write down what is agreed, even if the surrogate is a close friend/family member. This process will help both parties clarify their wishes, expectations and responsibilities.
Ask yourself: ‘Will I be comfortable about our arrangement at my child’s twenty-first birthday and beyond? Will my child? Will the surrogate? Will her partner, children and extended family?’
The following are factors that can contribute to a positive outcome from a surrogacy arrangement.
- Minimal risk factors - stable mental and physical health, positive life situation, supportive partner.
- Clear and open communication.
- Clear boundaries and realistic expectations.
- Knowledge of the medical process, including being realistic about the timeline – it could be up to 12 months before embryo transfer occurs.
- Realistic expectations about the emotional reactions that may occur during the process. Emotions should be managed with care and sensitivity - anxiety, grief, guilt and disappointment are all common feelings.
- Discussions between all parties regarding what are fair and reasonable expenses for the surrogate. Commissioning parent(s) should also plan a budget.
- Agreement on a pregnancy and birth plan that all parties are comfortable with. However, keep in mind that like any pregnant woman, the birth mother has the right to manage her own pregnancy - regardless of what may have been agreed in the surrogacy arrangement.