All the Lifetime movies and the few bad examples of how surrogacy should go have led to the one question we hear time and time again. How do I know the surrogate won’t try to take my baby?! I can give you a handful of reasons that will provide you with understanding, peace, and assurance that this will not be the outcome as you begin to grow your family through surrogacy.
To begin, the surrogate has no genetic connection to the child. Family Choice Surrogacy only works with gestational surrogates. This means that the embryo that is transferred to your surrogate is not created by using her egg. The embryo is created with the intended parents’ genetic material or with the combination of a donor. For so many surrogates, this is a critical piece even for them! We often hear that women chose to be a surrogate vs an egg donor, because she has reservations about a piece of her being with someone else. By not using her genetic material she feels a level of separation.
A critical component in the surrogacy process is the completion of the Gestational Surrogacy Agreement (GSA) between the surrogate and the intended parent(s). This legal agreement lays out the terms for the journey. Intent is an important factor. Her intent to NOT be a parent is written in this as well as the Intended Parent’s intent to establish their parentage. It expressly states that the intended parents are the responsible party and take over the rights when the child is born. The agreement even dictates who the parents would want to be the child’s custodial parent in the event of their death, which will not be the surrogate.
Establishing legal parentage varies by state. In many states, the intended parents will have the option of a pre-birth order and establish legal parentage before the birth of their child. Yet, in some states, a post-birth order will have to be completed. And even in the event that a post-birth order is required the intended parents still take custody of the child immediately from birth and are responsible for the child. The surrogate can execute a health care power of attorney (or similar) document in the hospital to ensure that the intended parents get to make all medical decisions for the baby. It is important for the intended parents to speak with their attorney to determine the court order process for their state. Both options will ultimately lead to a court recognizing the intended parents as the child’s legal parents.
The majority of surrogates will tell you that the moment they long for is to see the intended parents hold their baby for the first time. The surrogate is invested in the desire to make the dreams of a baby the reality for the intended parents. She signed up for a journey that can take on average 18 months or longer. Undergoing many medical exams, screening checkpoints, psychological evaluations, all because she felt deep in her heart a longing to help bring the joy of parenthood to someone else. No matter how the journey went, the highs or the lows, it is all worthwhile when the baby is in the arms of its parents.
Finally, it is always recommended that the surrogate is done building her own family. While no one can control the future, it is ideal that the surrogate at that moment in time feels that her family is complete. This is important for a few reasons. First, as with all pregnancies, there are risks involved and the possibility of secondary infertility exists. If a surrogate desires to have more children, but after her journey she lost a reproductive organ, or had unexplained infertility, it could be very difficult for her to cope. Knowing that her family is done can help her feel more at ease when sharing the joy of surrogacy with her support system and her own children. She can confidently say, “Our family is complete, and I am so excited that I am able to help grow a baby for another family who desires to give their love to a child of their own.”
For those who decide to move forward with surrogacy to grow their family, our hope is that this article helped to clear the air on one of the biggest misconceptions of the process. The women who qualify as surrogates have the biggest hearts and want nothing more than to see you become loving parents to your sweet bundle of joy.