Will the Baby Look Like the Surrogate?

Surrogates are often peppered with strange questions. While some may feel insensitive or invasive, others may come off as silly to you. Surrogacy is still an emerging science that much of the population remains unfamiliar with and, as such, they may ask questions that have what seem to be obvious answers. “Will the baby look like you?” is one such question.

To you the answer probably seems obvious: no, the child will not look like you. If there is some perceived resemblance it is purely coincidental. But to many others this truth may not be so apparent, especially to those just starting to process the idea of gestational surrogacy. When the question of physical likeness is asked, it is almost always from a place of genuine curiosity as the other person begins to reconcile how gestational surrogacy works.

For many, the idea that a woman is able to carry a child with whom she shares no biological or genetic link is an idea only conceivable in science fiction novels. No matter how many times you remind them that the surrogate child bears no relation to you, many will be unable to mentally comprehend the fact that you can give birth to a child that is in no way your offspring.

You can kindly introduce the topic with a redirect, perhaps saying, “We’re actually hoping the child inherits her mother’s eyes or her father’s silly grin.” This gently reminds them that the child in your womb is the result of another woman’s egg, and the sperm of a man who is not your partner. As this child will not share your genetics, there is no chance of him/her inheriting physical traits unique to you or your children.

If you are lucky enough to receive continued photos of the child as the she/she grows, do not be surprised if these same people continue to insist that the child bears a resemblance to you or to your children at a similar age. In these cases, or after repeated reminders that the child does not bear your genetics, it may be best to just accept their insistence and move on. Or, if you feel comfortable, remind them that the child is not your own, but that you’re proud to be linked to such a cute kid.

Answering this and other seemingly silly questions with poise and respect will help further the greater awareness of surrogacy as well as the impressions of the women who become surrogates. While you never have to answer questions that make you uncomfortable, accepting the opportunity to educate others puts you in a very special position as the science behind surrogacy continues to become more commonplace.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 22 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for the last two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the American Fertility Association, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 28 years and their two teenage daughters.