Reaching Out; Tips on Planting a Great Relationship with your Surrogate

The relationship between a surrogate and her intended parents is one that has the potential to be incredibly special. With that said, almost all relationships between the surrogate and intended parent will start with some awkwardness. Working with a person previously unknown to you to accomplish something so intimate is generally unfamiliar. Embracing this reality is your first step forward in planting and growing a great relationship with the woman who will help create and grow your family.

First of all, understand that women who choose to become surrogates are motivated chiefly by altruism. This is a woman who is seeking out the opportunity to help someone else in a big way. Her goal is to give you the ultimate gift — a family. Surrogates are not adoptive mothers and will not feel a maternal attachment to the child she carries for you. While your initial emotional reaction may be to safeguard yourself through distance, understanding her motives can help you relax and trust her as you start to develop your relationship.

The best advice we can give you when it comes to reaching out, especially for the first time, is to just do it! There is no magic moment or time that the initial contact becomes carefree or “easier.” This relationship, like many others, is one that demands attention and interaction. By this, we mean that the more contact you have in that early, awkward stage, the easier and more natural communication will become as the journey progresses.

So, start small. Simply sending your surrogate a short text message or Email to check in or say hello will truly excite her. In many cases, surrogates will wait for you to initiate contact out of fear that they may come across invasive if they reach out to you first. Initiating contact will show her that you’re open to a relationship. It also allows you to lead by example as far as laying boundaries for how close of a relationship you want to have.

You can grow trust and appreciation by replying to your surrogate in a timely manner. This doesn’t mean that you need to drop everything you’re doing to respond every time she reaches out or replies to you. However, we would encourage you to reply promptly. A simple reply may seem inconsequential to you, but imagine the emotional toll for her if she receives no response. A short reply is better than a non-reply any day.

Try asking open-ended questions. Asking things that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” will help advance the conversation naturally. You may be surprised to find common interests organically when you invite more conversation through this method. Additionally, and especially as your journey progresses, it can be very helpful to ask appropriate questions that are not strictly related to the pregnancy. Asking a surrogate about her kids, hobbies, or favorite TV shows will show her that you have an interest in who she is as a person, as opposed to only having an interest in what she’s doing for you through surrogacy. This means that, within your comfort zone, you can consider sharing things about your life with her, too. The absolute key to success is honesty and transparency.

Finally, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. You’re going to have awkward moments as this relationship forms. Approaching them with a good spirit will help you conquer them. And, if all else fails, don’t be afraid to reach out to your case specialist. She can give you direction and pointers that will help smooth out any wrinkles along the road and help you build a great relationship with your surrogate.

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 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 book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.