Since the first successful gestational surrogate pregnancy in 1986, scores of women have opted to willingly become surrogate mothers to help infertile or same-sex couples start a family. However, what many are not aware of is that the 1986 surrogate pregnancy agreement didn’t quite go as planned. Surrogate mother, Mary Beth Whitehead, refused to give up custody of the child after delivery.
This case revealed many of the challenges surrogate mothers often face when it’s time to give up the child they’ve carried.
If a surrogate mother changes her mind and refuses to give up the baby, the situation can vary based on the legal framework.
This is why having a binding surrogacy contract in place is important.
Surrogacy isn’t legal in all 50 states. Each state has its own set of laws and regulations surrounding the process. It also matters to work with the right surrogate agency to navigate these state laws by giving you up-to-date information on what to do.
Not only that, but a good agency will have access to a team of medical and mental health caregivers to help all involved in the process. Counseling and therapy to deal with postpartum depression and baby blues will also be availed to the surrogate mother. Not to mention helping with the paperwork and financial compensation for the surrogate.
Why a Surrogate Mother Should Already Have Kids
Every surrogate agency in CA has a list of qualifying parameters that a potential surrogate must meet before they can be considered. On this list is the absolute prerequisite that the potential surrogate is a woman with her own children and preferably completed her own family. Why is this done? Surrogacy is a process that can result in medical complications for the surrogate, which may make it difficult for her to have children in the future. Even though contracts and agreements are entered prior to the commencement of the surrogacy process, a woman without children might decide to change her mind at the very last minute, complicating the entire process. It is for these reasons and more that agencies advocate that a potential surrogate mother should already have one or more biological children of her own.
Being a Surrogate Is an Emotional Experience
It is almost impossible to carry a child for nine months and not develop some form of emotional attachment to the growing baby. This is why having a good support system around is a vital part and parcel of the journey.
Some of the emotional dilemmas involved include surrogates not knowing how much attention they should show the baby growing in their womb. Some argue that not acknowledging the baby could lead to future problems for the child, while others are of the opinion that the less emotional connection or bonding done during the nine months, the easier it will be to hand the child over to their parents. Regardless of the surrogate mother’s point of view, the fact remains – being a surrogate is an emotional experience.
1. Happiness and Excitement
One of the main reasons women want to be surrogate mothers is because of the joy and happiness they can bring to a family who are struggling to conceive or can’t have children.
If you’re looking to be a surrogate mother, there’s no doubt that you’re compassionate and caring and will find reward and fulfillment in helping another family. There is excitement in growing new life, reaching each milestone and welcoming the baby together.
While joy is a prominent emotion as a surrogate mother, you may feel moments of anxiety. This is to be expected for any pregnancy, an overwhelming experience that is often unpredictable. This might include thinking about the birth, pain, medical procedures, or the pressure of carrying someone else’s child.
These feelings are completely normal, and connecting with your support network and the intended family can help you through the difficult patches.
Many women ask the valid question of whether they will become attached to the baby. Of course, every woman is different, but with the heightened emotions of hormones, surrogate mothers may experience sadness.
However, surrogate mothers report a different bond with their surrogate baby and their own children. One way to think about it is like babysitting, consciously aware that the baby will be given back to its loving family. In most cases, you will have a bond with the intended family that allows you to be involved in their lives, even after the pregnancy.
The best thing you can do is to speak to your loved ones, the support network at Joy of Life®, or even the intended family, if you feel comfortable doing so, to work through this emotion together.
A lot of surrogate mothers often report a sense of relief when they carry a child for someone else. Once the baby has been born, surrogates are not committed to raising a child, which, while beautiful, can have its disadvantages, such as financial strain.
Being a surrogate also allows a full recovery after birth, concentrating on themselves rather than a newborn baby.
Being in control of your own body and bringing new life into the world for someone else is empowering. As a woman, it’s a powerful experience being pregnant and giving birth, and surrogacy really is a journey like no other.
A Surrogate Mother Needs Emotional Support
The level of support needed by a surrogate mother can never be overemphasized. While a lot of fuss is made about her physical change and the growing belly, fewer people are aware of the emotional side of things. Her hormones are all over the place, and coupled with the extra supplements she is taking to ensure a healthy pregnancy, she might feel under the weather more often than not.
Being able to acknowledge this emotional state that the surrogate is living under and being a good support is of grave importance. What should you expect? Anticipate fear, anxiety, body image issues, and mood swings from the surrogate. Understand that it has nothing to do with you. It is merely a part of the pregnancy journey. It is going to be a challenging time for you as the caregiver and support system, too, but forewarned is forearmed. Knowing these things ahead of time will enable you to know how to deal with the surrogate.
Understanding How a Surrogate’s Family Feels
Because one of the pillars needed by a surrogate is a good support system which is often their family, it’s key to talk about how the surrogate’s family is likely to feel during this entire process. Pregnancy can be a stressful time not just for the surrogate but for those around her as well. While choosing to become a surrogate is her decision, it is imperative that a potential surrogate has the full support of her family or immediate loved ones.
The sense of loss after the baby has been born may be felt by the whole family as they journeyed with and lived with the surrogate. Counseling is, therefore, important for everyone. Going through these sessions together will also help them to express what they might be feeling as well. In addition, family members will be counseled on how to handle and understand the moods and behavior of the surrogate from a professional.
Dealing With the Conclusion of the Process
There is no moment more trying than the final leg of the journey – giving birth and saying goodbye to the baby. What happens during these final moments will be defined by what has been laid out in the surrogacy agreement. This includes who will be in the delivery room and whether or not the birth takes place naturally or via C-section. The surrogate mother is given the liberty to choose what elective processes she’d like and the level of privacy during this culminating moment. In many cases, the intended parents are waiting on the other side of the delivery room and are given the baby as soon as it’s born. The surrogate mother may only have a few moments with the newborn before the handover happens.
Once this takes place, this is more or less the end of the road for the surrogate mother. It is not unusual for some intended parents to not want any continued correspondence with the surrogate mother. Post-partum, this might feel like rejection, and a surrogate will need support in order to come to terms with the new reality of life.
The challenges of giving up a child as a surrogate mother are real. And it’s vital that a surrogate receive counseling and possibly undergo therapy in order to have closure so she can move on with her life. Left untreated postpartum depression can last years.
Do you have questions that you’d like answered? Contact us at Joy of Life® Surrogacy. One of our team members is always available to chat with you.