International Surrogacy

chinese-familyBuilding and maintaining an open relationship with your surrogate is often listed as an item of key importance to most intended parents. When there is an ocean (or many miles) between your surrogate and yourself it can feel overwhelming even coming up with a way to start conversations, much less grow a strong relationship.

First things first, international travel is pricey. We understand that it may not be possible for you to travel to the US for multiple visits over the course of your journey. That’s why International intended parents are only required to make the long journey two times; one large visit for medical screening, genetic deposits (sperm and eggs if needed), in person meeting of the surrogate and document signing, and then again at the birth.  While some international parents will also choose to travel abroad for events like the match meeting, embryo transfer, and 20 week anatomy scan, we understand that this is not the reality for most people.

The probable lack of face-to-face interaction leaves parents almost entirely dependent on alternative means of communication to build a relationship. Technology makes long distance communication entirely possible through video chat, Skype phone calls, Emails, blogs, and, if it’s within your comfort zone, social media. When used effectively, these tools can absolutely lead to a well-developed and respectful relationship. Many international IPs develop deep friendships with their surrogates with no more than these two required visits, because of internet communication.

Language barriers can seem as impossible as the miles between you. Rest assured that Growing Generations has language services in place to help bridge that gap as well. A good relationship is attainable with a language barrier, the trick is that you’ll just need to be more deliberate in your communications.

Sending regular Emails is a great way to begin communicating and getting to know one another. Replying to Emails in a timely manner is also a good habit to get into. As you’re likely from different cultures, it will be important to consider social norms and any language barriers that may exist. Have fun with differences in slang! Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, and ask questions about something you may not have understood.

International matches often live in time zones that separate them by many hours. This can make video and phone calling difficult. The best plan of action is scheduling these calls in advance. Pick a time that works well for all parties and put the time and date on your calendar. While this takes spontaneity out of the communication, it does allow you to set aside time where you’re less likely to have distractions. For those real time communications, consider Skype messaging or something similar. It allows you to send messages when you want, and the other party can reply when the sun comes up on their side of the world.

Choosing to work with an international carrier gives you the unique opportunity to learn about a different culture first hand. Look at these upcoming months as an exciting opportunity to learn about new cultures as opposed to an obstacle to overcome and you may be surprised at just how easily you can communicate across the globe.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over 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 for Reproductive Medicine, 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 Emeritus 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’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.