It's time to fine tune your dating skills because you're about to enter into the most important courtship you'll encounter. And it all starts with the biggest first date of your life.
And it's with a woman.
This woman is your gestational carrier; the woman who will carry and care for your baby until she delivers this little bundle of joy right into your arms.
Matching with a gestational carrier – or surrogate – is one of the most exciting milestones in your journey to parenthood through surrogacy. However, it can also be the most nerve wracking. Chances are you've seen a profile about your potential surrogate match so you know a little bit about her and her family. But before you commit to this woman, you'll need to meet her first – either in person or via video. And this is one first meeting you've probably never prepared for!
Circle Surrogacy has been matching surrogates and gay dads for almost 25 years. Here are tried and true tips and tricks to getting to know your surrogate...and keeping the relationship alive during pregnancy and after birth!
7 Tips for your First Date with your Surrogate
You'll likely be nervous for this first meeting, which many times occurs as a video call. What should you wear? What should you talk about? The best advice: relax! Chances are, your surrogate is just as nervous as you are. These tips will help you prepare for – and survive! – your first "date" with your surrogate:
- Prepare yourself for an awkward first few minutes. Let's be honest, this is not a normal meeting or first date. You are meeting a woman to see if you 'click' so she could carry a baby for you! Sometimes it's best to acknowledge the awkwardness from the get-go. Starting the conversation by saying, "I'm excited to meet you, but I'm a little nervous!" is a great way to break the ice and get the chit-chat started.
- Prepare a list of talking points. We're not suggesting you read from index cards, however, you may want to have a short list of bulleted topics you'd like to cover on your call. The overwhelming emotions you'll be feeling may cause you to forget questions you'd like to ask; also, having a list of topics will come in handy to fill any awkward moments of silence.
- Be honest. Above all, be open and honest during your conversation. What are you looking for in a surrogate? What do you hope to get out of your surrogacy journey? What type of relationship do you hope for with your surrogate? Be sure to talk about what you truly think and feel, instead of what you think your surrogate might want to hear to agree to match with you.
- Share your story. Tell your surrogate about yourself: when did you know you wanted to be a dad? If you're coupled, how did you meet? What's your life like? This is an opportunity to not only get to know your surrogate, but for her to get to know the real you, too.
- Don't treat the meeting like a job interview. While you may have a million questions for your potential gestational carrier, try to not interrogate her. Treat this meeting like a conversation. Ask open-ended questions that allow her to share stories and her experiences and feelings on topics. And then share your story, too (see #5!). The last thing you want to do is make her feel like she's being questioned; you want her to feel like you're trying to get to know her.
- Keep the conversation light. The first date is probably not the time to discuss heavy or deep topics with your surrogate. Instead, focus on topics such as family, hobbies, vacation spots, and describing what it's like to live where you are. And it's NEVER the time to talk about money.
- Don't put expectations on the length of the call. Like any first date, the end can be a little...stressful. This first meeting does not need to be hours long. Some dads shared with us that they had wonderful conversations lasted around 45 minutes, while other dads had conversations that last over 2 hours! There is no "right" amount of time for this first meeting. Get to know one another enough to determine if she's "the one", whether that's 30 minutes or 3 hours.
5 Tips for Dating Your Surrogate Through Pregnancy
You've made it through the first date with success! You are now matched with a wonderful woman who you will now have a relationship with for the next 12-16 months...and beyond. It's imperative that you nurture this relationship throughout the journey, as you'll be experiencing some amazing milestones together.
Here are some tips on how to "date" your surrogate – and grow your relationship.
- Maintain at least weekly communication. Most intended parents and their surrogates communicate way more than weekly, however you'll find the cadence of communication that works for you both. Communication can be anything from video chats to texts, phone calls to photos.
- Ask for updates. Since surrogates have been through their own pregnancies before, what they are experiencing is not new to them. However, it IS new to YOU. It's ok to ask for updates throughout the pregnancy: how is she feeling? Is she craving any crazy foods? Is the baby kicking like crazy? Your surrogate wants to share all these details with you - so ask away!
- Share your feelings. This one falls under the honesty camp: be open about how you're feeling in your journey. Anxious? Nervous? Excited? Let your surrogate know. She's an experienced mama so she may be able to calm any fears or share some thoughts. Being open with her will also bring you closer.
- Openly discuss D-day (delivery day!). Around week 20 of your pregnancy you'll fill out your birth plan with your surrogate. You'll answer questions about what your expectations are for delivery day, who you'd like in the delivery room, etc. It can be helpful to discuss delivery day early and often, so all parties are as prepared as they can be...and ready for plans B and C should you need them!
- Talk about the future. While discussing the future may be taboo for your first date, it should be a talking point throughout your relationship. Discuss what you imagine your relationship with your surrogate is like after your baby is born. Every journey is different. The level of relationship you have after the baby is born is unique to you and your surrogate. Some parents and their surrogate remain in contact with periodic calls and videos. While others become extended families of one another and visit and vacation together.
First impressions are everything. Prepare for your first date – aka, your first video call or meeting – with your surrogate like you would any other meeting. Be ready to not only ask her questions, but to share information about yourself.
Our best advice: be yourself!