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Surrogacy for a family member - a moral dilemma

(120 Posts)
WelliesandBrollies Thu 06-Aug-20 12:31:03

I’m considering offering to be a surrogate for my brother and his wife. I’d really like some input from my fellow feminists as I’m a regular poster on this board and and generally very critical of surrogacy.

My brother and his wife have been trying to have a baby for around 10 years now. They have had at least 10 rounds of IVF (I’m not too sure of the details, we used to talk about it a lot as I too went through IVF but my rounds were successful and I now have 2 children, that must have been heartbreaking for them). They can’t adopt as they currently live abroad for my brother’s work, so moving back would mean removing their adopted child from their country of birth and distancing the baby from their birth family. They have therefore decided to go down the surrogacy route.

I have tried to keep my opinions on exploiting a woman for her uterus to myself. I’ve spoken to my mum about it at length but while usually in agreement with me on these issues, she is blinded by her desire for her son to be happy. The solution I’ve come up with to volunteer myself. I’d be doing something incredible for my brother who I love really deeply, and no vulnerable women would be exploited. My husband has pointed out that I would be exploited, though, for my kindness and my morality.

I want to make it clear that nobody has actually even vaguely suggested that I be the surrogate, I’ve mentioned it to my mum and she said “absolutely not” And we haven’t talked about it since. I just can’t bear the thought of a poor foreign woman being exploited so my brother can have a family. But I can see the sadness in his eyes every time we speak at not being a father.

Any friends I’ve mentioned it too say I’m so brave and stunning but I just feel like it’s so much more complex than that. I don’t feel like I’m being 100% altruistic in my offer, I’m just as concerned about the potential surrogate they would use if it weren’t for me as I am about their happiness.

I don’t really know what I want from this thread. Advice/guidance/opinions?

Thank you all in advance

OP’s posts: |
SonEtLumiere Thu 06-Aug-20 12:33:58

Ver difficult situation. I sympathise but cannot add anything more to your thinking.

CumannNamBan Thu 06-Aug-20 12:38:35

How is them hiring a surrogate better than adopting?

This is an account of an altrustic surrogacy gone wrong

Winesalot Thu 06-Aug-20 12:38:42

It is hard and it really is up to you.

I am surprised that your mother's reaction. Does she think surrogacy is fine if it is other's or just concerned for you?

Snog Thu 06-Aug-20 12:40:13

I don't think you should do this if your main motivation is to prevent the suffering of another potential surrogate mother. It doesn't seem enough reason. And there are no guarantees that if a woman wanted to become a surrogate for financial gain she wouldn't just find a different couple to do this for.

AnotherEmma Thu 06-Aug-20 12:40:32

Please don't do it.
It seems to me that your main reason for doing it (apart from wanting to help them have a child of course) would be to prevent them from exploiting another woman.
But if it's wrong for another woman to do it, it's wrong for you to do it, too.
I think you know this deep down but your compassion and love for them is clouding the issue.

NiceGerbil Thu 06-Aug-20 12:43:51

How many children do you have?

How were the pregnancies and births?

Have you thought about the impact on your children? Your husband? I assume you have some. If not then the answer has to be no to surrogacy.

I assume there will be no genetic link as it's your brother! Where are the eggs coming from, SIL?

lots to think about

LoeliaPonsonby Thu 06-Aug-20 12:43:53

You’re not responsible for your brother or his wife. If he is prepared to exploit a women to have a child, he doesn’t get off the hook because another women who is in a somewhat better position gets to be exploited instead.

I wouldn’t do it. It’s not about him getting to be a father, it’s about what’s best for a child. And nobody, nobody has a right to a child.

LoeliaPonsonby Thu 06-Aug-20 12:45:25

I suspect your mother is not thrilled with the idea of surrogacy, but by using a woman from another country, it’s out of sight, out of mind.

ScrapThatThen Thu 06-Aug-20 12:48:45

I think you need to stay out of this. It’s not your choice or responsibility to solve. You shouldn’t put yourself in harms way.

MadamBatty Thu 06-Aug-20 12:51:29

If you had IVF to conceive you’ll have to have it for the surrogacy? What’s the chances of it working? why didn’t it work for your bro & sil, poor embryo quality for example? Are you just going to put yourself & bro & sil through more pointless medical procedures. When would you stop? After 10 rounds too?

Thehollyandtheirony Thu 06-Aug-20 12:55:11

It’s not your job as a woman to smooth out the mess created by your male relatives. Why would you volunteer to be exploited instead of another woman? Think about why surrogacy is exploitation. If your only concern is a poor woman being financially exploited then can you help your DB and SIL to pay over market rates? If your concerns are more complicated- rights of the baby, risks to the surrogate, toll on her existing family, etc then none of that is solved by volunteering your own body.
I don’t agree with surrogacy and I would never be a part of it.

Cascade220 Thu 06-Aug-20 12:55:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StillNotAGirl Thu 06-Aug-20 12:56:18

Your husband is right, you don't have a responsibility to stop them exploiting someone else. If they wanted to adopt desperately enough they would move and settle in an appropriate country and he would sort work that fitted. Mothers compromise their careers all the time for their children.

We all have things that cause us sadness, you are not responsible for stopping your brother from being sad.

Sorry if this is a bit blunt and I mean only kindness to you

RedRumTheHorse Thu 06-Aug-20 12:57:00

As you have had IVF yourself to get pregnant I wouldn't think you were suitable for medical reasons. (Obviously, no-one on here knows why you needed IVF and it isn't any of our business. )

Also the fact your mum said definitely not would indicate she's probably thought about it and knows deep down this could cause family issues. After all while you are doing this for your brother, your SIL may not be the person you know on the surface.

Personally I think they should adopt and this is with knowing the trauma of adult friends and acquaintances who had inter-racial adoptions.

wellbehavedwomen Thu 06-Aug-20 13:01:28

What if you give birth and can't bear to part with the baby? What will it feel like, watching a child you carried and delivered being brought up by other people? What if you hate how they parent - and how people intend to, and how they actually do, can vary enormously. If the child doesn't gel with parents - and we all know it can happen - how will you cope with that? And what if the child turns around and says, "you're my mother, not her..." at some point. What will your response be?

I'm really torn on donor eggs and sperm (known donor, especially), because the baby is created within the mother who will carry, nuture and love the child. There is no psychic wound to the baby, knowing their mother gave them away at birth. I'm not torn on surrogacy. It creates a basic and fundamental faultline for a child, because they know the woman who carried them gave them up. Adoption, and that's unavoidable. Surrogacy, and that is created. Even leaving aside the exploitation issue, which to my mind should make commercial surrogacy absolutely unacceptable, there's a child welfare argument. And I can't get past that bit.

I struggled with infertility, too. I know how agonising it is. But at some point, adult wants have to come second to child needs, and to me, a child being given away at birth when created for that reason is over that line. In the past, we had adoption at birth, and while horrendous for mother and baby it was the best option available at a time when birth control was limited, and abortion illegal. I absolutely recognise the pain and sorrow of an infertile couple... but a baby is not a commodity, and nor is another woman's body.

I'd think long and hard on this one, too, in terms of your own family relationships. It would be nice to think your bro and his wife would be endlessly grateful. But human nature might equally mean that every time they see you, or even have a reminder of you, they are reminded that their child came from your body. And that might lead to simmering resentment strengthened, not weakened, by the knowledge that you did something nobly unselfish for them. You know how people who leave after an affair are often so cruel, because they resent feeling guilty so turn it on the person triggering that guilt? Well, resenting the woman who carried your baby for you would certainly lead to a lot of guilt, and in all probability a reluctance to see that woman, or even to like her. It may not happen. But it could.

This might be great for your brother and sister in law. I can see nothing but harm for you, and grave potential harm for any baby.

Disfordarkchocolate Thu 06-Aug-20 13:02:25

From what you have said your motivation is all wrong. For that reason you shouldn't do it. I'd don't believe in it either but that doesn't mean I should do it so that someone else isn't exploited. You can't fix this for your brother and its not your job too.

ivfdreaming Thu 06-Aug-20 13:07:51

If you had IVF to conceive you’ll have to have it for the surrogacy?

Errrr that's pretty obvious - she's not going to make a baby the "traditional" way with her BROTHER

I think it's a great thing you are potentially going to offer but do it because you want to for your brother and his wife not because of some misplaced hero complex to "save" a woman from a poor country. They could just as well decide to choose a surrogate in America where surrogacy is VERY well paid and appears less exploitative

Anon992 Thu 06-Aug-20 13:08:07

I have been a surrogate and I found the whole experience very affirming and empowering. However - it was something I wanted to do, and something my husband supported, otherwise I think it would have been an incredibly different and difficult experience. It doesn’t sound like something you (or your husband) want to do, and - whilst it might feel like a noble offer in order to potentially protect a vulnerable woman elsewhere - it could lead to huge problems further down the line in your family and perhaps even your own marriage.

Personally I would focus on gently educating my brother on the realities of commercial surrogacy.

SickOfThisVirus Thu 06-Aug-20 13:10:32

I just couldn't get involved in surrogacy myself in any way shape or form. It wasn't until having a child I found out that newborns believe that they are a single entity with their mother. I think that purposely creating a situation where the newborn will be taken away from its mother (ie the woman who carried and gave birth to it) is unspeakably cruel.

bishopgiggles Thu 06-Aug-20 13:12:32


Please don't do it.
It seems to me that your main reason for doing it (apart from wanting to help them have a child of course) would be to prevent them from exploiting another woman.
But if it's wrong for another woman to do it, it's wrong for you to do it, too.
I think you know this deep down but your compassion and love for them is clouding the issue.

I agree with this.
There is no way I would be able to do this for someone no matter how much I loved them.
Lots of my family (including me) have struggled with fertility issues. I know how awful it is. But, in my opinion, there comes a time to make peace with it rather than make such demands on anyone (I know they are not asking you).

FemaleAndLearning Thu 06-Aug-20 13:14:35

I would say no. It sounds like you are potentially offering out of guilt. You are not responsible for their situation or their decision to use a surrogate. Stick by your principles and let go of the guilt. You don't need to kind just because he is your brother.
All the risk, medically and emotionally is on you.

MadamBatty Thu 06-Aug-20 13:15:55

ivfdreaming there’s also the turkey baster doh

OvaHere Thu 06-Aug-20 13:19:29

I wouldn't do this for reasons already outlined by other posters.

Have you suggested to your brother that he is making work more of a barrier to adoption than it needs to be? People move jobs and countries all the time to suit their circumstances. Might that just be an excuse because he's become fixed on the idea of a biological child?

I can understand why you feel this is a solution but offering yourself as a sacrifice for another woman I doubt will work out well. You're not responsible for the choices your brother and his wife make even when it's something you believe to be completely unethical.

You probably feel like this reflects somehow on you - I think I would feel the same but really it doesn't, they're both adults and their decisions are theirs alone.

TirisfalPumpkin Thu 06-Aug-20 13:20:51

Echoing previous comments. I think it shows your kindness and selflessness that you’d consider it, but I can’t see it ending well. There would be an enormous, unrepayable debt between you, and that’s before considering the physical and emotional risk to you.

It is sad and unfair that some people can’t have children, particularly those who deeply want to, but that is maybe something we (society, not you or your family specifically) should address. We should be more accepting of childless adults and not treat them as a tragedy or failure, and we should be more okay with not always getting what we want out of life.

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