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What classes as a good reason to become a surrogate?

34 replies

scottishgirl98 · 17/08/2020 17:26

I'm 22 with a 2 y/o and a husband. We are planning on having another in the next year and then after that my partner and I have both agreed that that will be enough for us in order to live comfortably from a financial perspective. After that however (obviously a few years down the line) I've been looking into the option of being a surrogate (provided all goes well with our second) so somebody else can experience the joy (and occasional misery) of parenthood for themselves if they want it. My husband says its my body, my choice and he'll support me whatever I decide (he's very supportive in general, his only request was that we have a second child first as he desperately wants another one). I wouldn't be looking for anything in ways of financial payment as I know thats illegal in the UK and we are comfortable anyway (not super wealthy but we always manage to make ends meet, both in secure civil service jobs). When I look at the surrogacy websites it just says you should have "altruistic motivations" which might as well be another foreign language to me. I had a relatively easy pregnancy with my first so maybe I'm going into this not fully understand what a difficult hard pregnancy could potentially be, and my heart goes out to those unable to conceive and I would love to give them a child to call their own but I don't know if that counts as altruistic. I also know some of my family members wouldn't be very supportive but they're not supportive with a lot of things I do so I am used to that. I'm just looking for advice on how people knew that being a surrogate was right for them.

OP posts:
QuarantineDream · 17/08/2020 17:37

As gently as possible, it might be worth reading some of the threads about surrogacy on the Feminism boards. Although it's tempting to just think of the positives, there are so many things that can also go wrong, or even just not go to plan.

What if the baby is disabled and the parents want you to abort?
What if the pregnancy leaves you with severe complications?
What if you find yourself growing attached to the bang you're carrying?
What if the birth parents want to be in the room for delivery?
What if, after you hand over the baby, the parents lost interest in you entirely and you feel used - will you be Ok with that?

These are not easy things to think about but they are important.

QuarantineDream · 17/08/2020 17:37

*baby not 'bang'

QuarantineDream · 17/08/2020 17:38

*Also didn't mean "birth parents"... not firing on all cylinders today

InDeoEstMeaFiducia · 17/08/2020 17:40

You haven't even got pregnant and delivered a healthy second child that you want yet. This is all jumping the gun by quite a bit. Why not just see how it goes with your second child first?

Ylvamoon · 17/08/2020 17:42

Best piece of advice: DON'T DO IT.
There are so many threads and stories on MN as well as the internet.

RunningFromInsanity · 17/08/2020 17:42

Altruistic basically means you want to do something to help others, without gain for yourself.

FannyCann · 17/08/2020 22:51

The media overwhelmingly paint a picture of surrogacy being a wonderful experience, helping childless people to behave a baby.

Unfortunately it mostly isn't a positive experience, outside the UK in commercial situations there is horrific exploitation and abuse. Even within the UK many commissioning parents just want a baby, they see the woman as a baby making machine and show little care for her.

There are so many things that can go wrong.

It's late and I'm tired so I will just leave you with a couple of first hand accounts for starters.

This woman was treated appallingly by her best friends. She has PTSD and was utterly traumatised by the experience.

And this woman did it for her brother. What sort of brother thinks it's OK for his 48 year old sister to be having twins I don't know.

Both these women had difficult pregnancies which they did not expect having previously had problem free pregnancies.

Anon992 · 17/08/2020 23:10

I was an altruistic surrogate for friends last year and found the whole experience deeply rewarding.

I would definitely recommend you follow your plan to complete your own family first. If you are still considering it after then, my advice would be:

  • research, research and research some more. There are so many things to consider and so many “what if” situations you need to think about before deciding if it is something you want to do.
  • if you do want to go ahead/find out more I strongly recommend you consider joining an agency instead of trying to find people to help on the Internet. An agency vets all surrogates and intended parents (DBS, health checks etc) and can support with advice, counselling, support etc. They are usually free to join for surrogates, and there is no pressure or expectation that you must or should go on to carry a surrogate pregnancy - it’s entirely your decision.
  • whether or not you go through an agency please take the right legal advice and receive counselling for you and your partner before you proceed - and spend several months as a bare minimum getting to know the intended parent(s). You should talk through all the what ifs - birth, delivery, screening, diet/lifestyle, if/when you would terminate etc. An agency would support you with mediating and formalising this agreement if you chose to join one - although note that surrogacy agreements are not legally binding in the U.K., making the trusted relationship all the more important.
  • only altruistic surrogacy is legal in the U.K. but surrogates are expected to claim reasonable pregnancy-related expenses. Work up a budget including contingency and agree this with the intended parents up front - cover food, clothes, toiletries, childcare, travel and loss of earnings as well as any counselling, physios, legal costs (including amending your will) - again an agency would support with this if you chose that route.

Best of luck whatever you decide. Mumsnet can be quite anti surrogacy but I personally have found it one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life. Watching my friends become parents was truly beautiful.

Good luck whatever you decide.
Anon992 · 17/08/2020 23:12

Oh and to answer your question - I chose to do it because I could tell what wonderful parents my friends would be, my own pregnancies and births had been easy and enjoyable, my husband and family were all supportive, and I felt so lucky in my own family and wanted to help my friends begin theirs.

scottishgirl98 · 18/08/2020 09:38

It will be a few years down the line if I did go down that route so plenty of years to research (I might even wait till the youngest is in school just to make sure this is definitely what I want) I'm just somebody who is always thinking and planning ahead. I think your point about waiting several months to get to know the couple before conception (or singleton, I don't know if I would be opposed to a single woman wanting a kid) is a solid point to make sure they won't panic etc. The counselling is a really good idea, even though we've had a few long discussions about it, I think a counsellor would give us the structure to have a conversation about things we wouldn't be thinking of both as a couple ourselves and then with the other couple there as well (the abortion question regarding disabilities is definitely something I would want to discuss as while I would only consider it in extreme circumstances and risk to my own life, I'd like to think if they rejected it if I would be able to look after a child with disabilities that wasn't biologically mine providing we went down that surrogacy route but honestly I just don't know as I've never been put in that situation. I think this is definitely something I'd want to get counselling individually on to figure out my thoughts and feelings on as after a year or so of thinking (since a surrogate carried for my cousin) I'm still learning new things that I haven't thought of. An agency sounds like the most experienced option for figuring this all out without feeling under any pressure.

OP posts:
Happyheartlovelife · 18/08/2020 09:43

I desperately wanted to be a surrogate. Oh. It was almost like a dream

Sadly my pregnancies left me with life long disabilities and my dr advised me to not have another child for he thinks it would kill me.

I've been so incredibly sad at the thought of not doing it

I just thought I'd share my story really x

Happyheartlovelife · 18/08/2020 09:48


My gosh. That opened my eyes! Thank you

Lightsonnobodyshome · 19/08/2020 01:40

I read the guardian article both during and after our wonderful surrogate carried our daughter. Each time it seemed like a poorly thought out idea for this individual and bore no relation to the experience of our surrogate and her/our family. We all found it an amazingly positive experience. She has gone on to repeat the experience twice more and our daughter is happiest, most well adjusted child imaginable. Our surrogate wanted for nothing and she blessed us with everything. We're still friends. Of course.

We know several surrogates and IPs. Personally, it's been positive for everyone. Women don't tend to be altruistic surrogates unless they find pregnancy do-able/enjoyable and have had manageable experiences of labour. They have usually been able to have as many children as they wanted and have no desire to bring up a baby belonging to someone other than their partner.

Of course, it can go wrong but often it doesn't and we're so thankful for our experience, our friendship and our daughter.

OhHolyJesus · 19/08/2020 14:08

It sounds as though you would be motivated by altruistic reasons and not for financial benefit OP, but you obviously have a young child now and hopes for another so I would concentrate on your own family, as there are so many unknowns between now and whenever you might embark on this. You may not have an easy pregnancy next time and not want to go through the morning sickness carting for, one hopes, two children, for anyone!

In the meantime you will have lots of time for reading! You may struggle to find more on the down sides of surrogacy as the media perpetuates the idea of it being a wonderful thing (I make no secret of being anti-surrogacy) and agencies and lawyers who benefit financially from surrogacy are of course going to be biased so it will do you well to do your own research.

I am anti-surrogacy, for many reasons, but mainly because the baby cannot consent. With your 2yo was there ever a time your newborn wouldn't settle with anyone but you? Not even your husband? Sometimes a baby just wants it's mother. There aren't many things a newborn knows, how to feed and poo, and who it's mother is. You probably already know about the 4th trimester.

I've read about donor conceived children and their distress and of Jessica Kerns who was told she had colic as a baby, when she believed she was missing her mother. Her story is a tragic one, I would suggest looking it up her speech to Congress for more. I also recommend Renate Klein's book and Unexpected Mother by Susan A Ring.

Many stories I read about surrogate mothers and surrogacy focus on the commissioning parents desires (or 'needs' and 'rights') and not the mother, and the baby is often the prize at the end. Sometime there are scarce details of miscarriage or health issues. You now have time to read all about the process, the drugs, the implantation and the further drugs you have to take so as not to reject a donor egg (I assume you wouldn't use your own as the child would be related to your own child/ren), about foetal reduction (fatal injection to the heart in the womb) and about the extra risks related to a surrogacy pregnancy, parental orders and the legal process.

I also wonder how, if the relationship with the family you helped create breaks down if there wouldn't be depression and loss, or would it be perhaps worse if you knew them and saw the family break up or if the child was raised stricter than you envisaged, how would you feel?

There are many threads to read through and some more material I could provide if you're interested please DM me. MN can be thought of as anti-surrogacy but there is good reason for that and I imagine you will want all information made available to you so you can make an informed decision.

Lightsonnobodyshome · 19/08/2020 15:13

I would also add that you should always have counselling from someone experienced in surrogacy beforehand. They should also see the IPs and you can agree together on how every aspect of the journey would look. Don't leave any decisions for later. The contract you'll draw up together is not legally binding but provides clarity for everyone concerned. And don't do it unless you're absolutely sure you really want to and have thought carefully about what could happen.

OhHolyJesus · 19/08/2020 19:07

I always wonder what the point of a contract is Lightson when not legally binding.

Is it so you can't sue or because you can't legally/morally force a woman to have an abortion/give birth?

I imagine, when disagreements arise, there is a lot of "but we agreed" and "well we've changed our minds" type of conversations.

I also imagine they are used to coerce rather than protect, as a contract which isn't legally binding just sets out what you agree but no one can force you to adhere to it, and if you could sue it would be unethical, so really it's a MOU not a contract and it just lays out the terms of the agreement, which involves lawyers which charge a fee, for something that cannot be legally enforced.

It's just odd to me. I guess the lawyers always win!

Lightsonnobodyshome · 19/08/2020 20:50

It's very useful because it highlights where there could be problems and stops a surrogacy arrangement going forward if you can't agree very easily on the terms. It obliges you to have difficult conversations and not get carried away. It gives the surrogate the chance to say exactly what she wants to happen and not happen. We would never have gone ahead with someone who didn't want exactly the same agreement. If she changes her mind, she's free to do so and the court makes very sure that no coercion is taking place. The IPs can't take the baby home from the hospital and they can't keep the baby if the surrogate doesn't satisfy the guardian that she's still happy with the arrangements (although it might be different if this is only coming to light after many months and the child is thriving in a stable home). Ultimately the legal process protects the surrogate's wishes in every way except (and this is a source of smaller l anxiety for every surrogate I know) it can't force the IPs to assume responsibility for the baby if they no longer want to.

FannyCann · 19/08/2020 21:45

except (and this is a source of smaller l anxiety for every surrogate I know) it can't force the IPs to assume responsibility for the baby if they no longer want to.

The law could never force the IPs to assume responsibility for a baby they don't want. All legal decisions are made with the child's best interests so it would hardly force a child on unwilling parents. If the IPs reject the child, and the surrogate mother doesn't want it, social services will take over and arrange fostering/adoption just the same as if regular parents reject a child at birth. I have known this happen a couple of times. One woman got off the delivery bed after a forceps delivery and said "I'll have to think about this" and went home leaving the baby in hospital. In another case the child had Down's syndrome, the father refused to take it and made an ultimatum to the mother - me or the baby. They left the baby in the hospital, where it was cared for by the midwives until a foster parent was arranged pending adoption.

The Law Commission are being disingenuous, pretending that new arrangements will relieve the surrogate mother of responsibility. Deep in the consultation paper they acknowledge that if the IPs reject the baby then arrangements will be made in the same way as normal.

I suppose the surrogate mother might feel relieved of the legal responsibility of signing the papers, or feel that the IPs should take that responsibility but I imagine it would be petty devastating to go through pregnancy and childbirth for another couple only for them to turn around and say "Thanks but no thanks, we've changed our mind".

Nothing can stop people doing that. It's a mere technicality who signs the final papers.

Lightsonnobodyshome · 20/08/2020 00:09

The law could never force the IPs to assume responsibility for a baby they don't want.

I realise that. But many surrogates would like relinquishing a child to adoption (if that is the choice) to be the IPs responsibility. It also would allow them to leave the hospital whenever they want without being challenged (although IPs usually stay as well now so caring for the baby is not the difficult issue it used to be).

It may be a technicality to you. It's not to them. They would like the mental load lifted. Whether that should happen is above my paygrade. But it's interesting to read the general public concerns about surrogacy (women being forced to give up babies they want to keep) when the the overridingly common concern of most surrogates is so polarised. To the point that I've been asked to sign multiple petitions (by surrogates, not IPs!).

Completely agree that it would be utterly devastating for all concerned. But handing that over decision making to the people who planned this child and agreed to take responsibility from the moment of birth is key from the perspective of many surrogates and their partners. One should really feel confident enough in the people involved that it shouldn't be an overwhelming concern, though.

FannyCann · 20/08/2020 05:06

But handing that over decision making to the people who planned this child and agreed to take responsibility from the moment of birth is key from the perspective of many surrogates and their partners.

I doubt it would happen after the birth very often despite the situations I described (things like downs are screened for nowadays). I have seen it said, and I believe it albeit I haven't been able to track down statistics, that it is more common for a breakdown in the "deal" to occur due to the IPs backing out than for the surrogate mother to change her mind, despite many IPs worrying about the surrogate mother reneging on the deal. Relationship breakdown and the baby being less than perfect are the common reasons. Especially with international arrangements. How easy to just cancel the order like cancelling that new car you planned but no longer want. Just don't turn up to collect.

So if the IPs cancel before the birth or don't turn up, then the surrogate mother will have to deal with it.

Whereas most surrogate mothers are highly motivated to give up the baby, they already have children and they want the final payment, they don't want to be landed with a baby that isn't biologically theirs.

Anon992 · 20/08/2020 07:17

I always wonder what the point of a contract is Lightson when not legally binding.

It’s not a contract - it’s an agreement.

It’s not intended to confer any contractual rights.

The point is that as you complete it is forces you to discuss and agree on a whole range of matters you might not otherwise have considered. How many attempts at getting pregnant do you expect to try before you review the situation? Will you transfer one embryo or more? Will you have the combined screening at 12 weeks? Will you take multi vitamins and if so for how long? Will the surrogate express any breast milk or colostrum? Who will attend antenatal classes and where? Who will register the birth? Would you consider an amino? Would you ever terminate and if so on what grounds and up to what stage in pregnancy? Have both parties amended their wills? Who will attend antenatal appointments? Who will announce the pregnancy? What will be shared on social media? Will you find out the gender? Who will be present at the birth and who will cut the cord? When will you develop a birth plan and are the IPs comfortable with the type of birth experience the surrogate wants? (Many surros favour home births for example.) If the worst were to happen and there were to be a stillborth or neonatal death, who would organise and attend the baby’s funeral? So very many things to consider, this is just a few off the top of my head - and unless you have gone through them all, discussed and reached an agreement then you should not proceed. That is the point of the agreement. Ours was about 30 pages and very detailed. It allowed us to check we were all on the same page and prompted us to consider things we wouldn’t even have thought of.

OhHolyJesus · 20/08/2020 08:51

Did you have a discussion about abortion Anon - whether it involved disabilities or abnormality of the foetus? I realise you were a surrogate mother for your friend and might be unlikely to change your mind, given your friendship and commitment, but some surrogate mothers do simply change their minds. Some experience sever morning sickness and want it to be over, some find their commissioning parents becoming jealous or possessive.

What happens if the woman simply no longer wants all their eggs in her basket?

Lightsonnobodyshome · 20/08/2020 09:19

Yes, we had a discussion about abortion. It would be naive not to. But we were aware that our surrogate might choose to terminate the pregnancy if something in her own life drastically changed.

OhHolyJesus · 20/08/2020 09:37

Would your friendship survive do you think if your friend decided to abort Lights?

OhHolyJesus · 20/08/2020 09:40

Or indeed if you wanted her to and she didn't? What would happen to the child, would she keep it or have the child adopted? I'm just interested and wonder why it's called a contract if essentially is a MOU. Of course no one can force an abortion or stop a woman from having one, but it could be coerced action on either side. There is an element of ownership isn't there?

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