If you're considering surrogacy, chances are you've started your research: reviewing agencies, understanding costs, and even speaking to friends who have become parents through the surrogacy process.
No matter how much research you do, you will still encounter surprise moments along your journey. To help prepare yourself as much as possible for what's to come (as best you can!) Circle Surrogacy spoke with parents through their surrogacy program and asked them: "What do you wish someone had told you about surrogacy?"
Here are 7 (very honest) things parents through surrogacy wished someone told them about the process:
#1. Put yourself out there emotionally.
As an intended parent, you determine your comfort level with the depth of relationship you have with your surrogate and egg donor. Martin shared with us, "I wish someone had told me the importance and positivity of having an open process, open donor and open surrogate relationships. These meetings are so beautiful and important to the kids." New dad Byron seconds that, "An open relationship with your egg donor and surrogate is extremely rewarding and amazing in times of celebration." However, he also adds, "But it can be tough in times of struggle managing and understanding 4 sets of emotions rather than just 2." Still, putting yourself out there is emotionally rewarding, and deepens your relationship with the women with whom you work.
#2. Focus on one thing at a time.
The old saying, "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon" should be turned on its head for surrogacy. Because while the surrogacy process is a marathon, thinking about it that way can feel very daunting. It helps to focus on the individual sprints and milestones, while keeping your eye on the finish line – your baby! Having smaller milestones to achieve and celebrate will help you stay in the moment and keep perspective. "Surrogacy seemed so unattainable at first," parent Siobhan told us, "but it is manageable by taking everything one step at a time."
#3. You Won't Feel Happy/Overjoyed/Excited Every Minute of Your Journey.
It's okay to have a range of emotions during your surrogacy journey. Of course you'll feel joy and excitement (you're having a baby!) However, the chances that you'll also feel frustrated, disappointed or anxious at certain times are pretty high. And guess what? That's okay. (Not only is it okay, it's NORMAL.) "Talk, talk and talk some more to your partner, good friend or agency support person," Siobhan shared with us. "Don't bottle up your emotions!" If you're feeling it, SHARE IT. Even if everyone might not like what you have to say. Remember: you're not alone on your journey!
#4. You may experience financial stress.
It's no secret that you've investing quite a bit financially on a surrogacy journey. "While we were told about financials, it took some time for us to fully understand how you as intended parents bear the ultimate financial responsibility for whatever happens during your process," Johan, a parent from Norway shares. "And if financial uncertainties stress you, you should prepare yourself for this. Some things might not go as you hoped or planned for…this could mean that your costs could be higher than those estimated." It's wise to build in a cushion into your costs for anything unexpected that might come your way.
#5. There is SO MUCH paperwork.
"I wish someone had told us about the crazy amount of paperwork and notarizations!" parent Stefan says. Surrogacy does require quite a bit of paperwork, however all of this paperwork is in place to protect you as intended parents, and establish the guidelines of your relationship and contract with your surrogate and egg donor, as well as ensure a smooth return home with your baby. Getting the paperwork in place upfront allows for a smooth journey and for you to be fully engaged emotionally at every step. Also? Your agency may reference this paperwork throughout your journey – be sure to keep it in a safe, handy place!
#6. Your journey will not be perfect.
Just like very few traditional pregnancies are perfect, surrogacy journeys are the same way. Your vision of how the journey will go may not happen the way you intended: Delayed egg retrievals. Flight cancellations. Additional transfers. For me, our journey was 5 years long, with 2 surrogates, and many disappointments along the way. Not exactly how I pictured us building our family. But we endured, and we had tremendous agency support from Circle. In the end, we have an amazing little boy, who made the five years leading up until that point literally disappear. Don't expect perfection, be flexible, and accept that you have very little control.
#7. Navigating the emotional waters of surrogacy is much easier with an experienced agency.
Larger agencies, such as Circle Surrogacy, have social work support and lawyers in-house who will support parents at each milestone. Plus, their team is made up of former surrogates, egg donors and intended parents – people who have been through the surrogacy process – who are happy to share their experiences and answer any questions.
Our advice: expect the unexpected and hold on tight for the best ride of your life! You WILL get there.