Choosing a Couple For Surrogacy - A Surrogate's View
My name is Kara and I am a 2X surrogate mother with CSP (The Center for Surrogate Parenting, Inc.). I have recently started working for CSP as a Surrogate Mother Coordinator and assist prospective surrogates through the application process.
Both of my surrogacies have been with couples overseas. I chose my couples mostly on gut instinct, but there were some common things I tended to look for. Both my couples are different in personalities and situations, but with open communication with each couple, we have been able to form a wonderful relationship and method of communication that works for us.
One of the most important and lasting decisions you make as a surrogate is which couple you choose to help create a family. There are many factors that go into this decision, many of which the surrogate is not aware of, and are made behind the scenes within the agency. However, usually a surrogate is given a choice from 2-3 couples.
How do you know who is right for you? How do you know what to look for? I think much of the choosing is “gut instinct”, but here are a few things to consider.
Shared interests - do you have some similarities? It is not necessary to be involved in the same things, but are you interested in some of the same things (reading, outdoor activities, crafts, movies, etc.)? There will be times when you and your couple will be together in social settings, it is helpful if you have something other than the surrogacy to discuss comfortably.
Cultural awareness - it is important to be aware of some cultural differences. This is not to say that people from different cultures cannot get along well, it is just important to note that someone from England might be more reserved in their emotion, while someone from New York City might be more outspoken. These are stereotypes that might not hold true, but it is important to be aware that previous life experiences play a part in shaping the views and lifestyle of a couple.
Gay couple - Many homosexual couples wish to have a family. If you have indicated that you do not wish to work with a gay couple, this does not apply to you. However, if you are willing to help a gay couple, most of the time they are men. It is important to note that many of these couples will depend on the surrogate for medical information regarding women's bodies and reproduction that you, as a surrogate, will think common knowledge. They may not know much about medical procedures or pregnancy and it will be helpful for you, as a surrogate to be sensitive to this and give more information. Also, there maybe some of your friends or family who don’t agree with homosexuality, so you will need to consider how you will handle any comments or questions that might arise given the unique nature of this surrogacy.
Couples wanting another child - Some couples are wanting to have a child to start a family and others are hoping to expand their family by adding another child. Sometimes the couple has worked with a surrogate previously. Other times they have adopted or have had a successful pregnancy for their first child. How will you feel about being the second surrogate for this couple ? Is it your personality to feel insecure or competitive? If so, this might not be a good fit for you.
Overseas vs. United States - Do you want to meet some people from a different country? Often the surrogate does not see this couple as often, but the visits from the couple tend to be longer (the couples fly in for transfers or ultrasounds and stay for a few days giving you time to get to know them). If you choose a couple from an area close to your home, you might see them more often (at each doctor’s visit), but might not get as much “quality” time with them as they are busy with their own lives on a daily basis. Are you concerned that a near-by couple might want more of your time than you are willing to give?
Reason for infertility - There are many reasons for a couple to be infertile. Does it matter to you what the reason is? Do you feel more connected to a person who has had cancer, for example, or does it make you worry that she might get sick again in the future? Do you feel empathetic to someone who has lost multiple pregnancies or someone who has unexplained infertility?
Personality - Does the intended mother describe herself as controlling or intense, or is she laid back and relaxed? Matching two controlling individuals together in such an emotional journey might not be the best idea.
Expectations and Wishes - Often in a couple’s profile, they will indicate what they are expecting or hoping the surrogate/couple relationship will involve. Do they want daily communication when you were hoping for once a week? What are the expectations for communication after the surrogacy is complete? Are they wanting to disappear and you were hoping to get pictures and updates every couple of months? If possible, it is helpful to have similar expectations.
These are some things to consider when looking at a couple’s profile, but no list can be comprehensive. As I mentioned above, many times, a surrogate will receive 2 or 3 profiles to choose from and one will just “stand out” above all others, and she might not be able to say why. Intuition or “gut instinct” may be based on very subtle cues from the application and is often an important indicator. Another important factor to consider - does your spouse, if you have one, have an opinion? This is something that you both will be involved in and it affects both of you intensely - does he have an opinion?
Choosing a couple to work with is a very important step in your surrogacy journey, and not one to be taken lightly. It is also a very exciting and fun time! Consider each of the above topics, but most of all, go with your instincts and your journey will hopefully be a rewarding one. Remember, each person has their own personality and every relationship is not perfect all the time. Each couple is to be valued and each one has experienced significant pain with their infertility. In the end, the surrogacy will be what you make it, and despite any ups and downs, you are helping an infertile couple create the family they so desperately desire.
Surrogate Mother Coordinator
Center for Surrogate Parenting, Inc.