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Frequently Asked Questions about the Emotional Aspects of Surrogacy

By: Dr. Carrie Eichberg PhD.

How difficult will this be emotionally on me and my spouse/partner?

Surrogacy is typically somewhat emotionally challenging for most people, especially women. It’s important for women to grieve the loss of not carrying her baby and what that means to her. Instead of focusing on not having the ability to carry a baby, think about the positive aspects of not being pregnant such as avoiding weight gain, not feeling uncomfortable, sleeping more soundly, and not having morning sickness. The reality is pregnancy is not a state of bliss for most women. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional mental health provider specializing in reproductive psychology. This can be a challenging process for anyone. Will I be able to trust my carrier?

It’s important to realize that gestational surrogacy is asking an intended parent to trust another person (a stranger if you are using an agency) to take care of something that is the most important thing in the world to them. This takes a huge leap of faith. However, if intended parents aren’t able to trust their carrier and are constantly micromanaging her, the arrangement is doomed to be problematic. The emotional task of intended parents is to let go of the control of the pregnancy, yet stay closely involved and allow the carrier to do the best job she can.

What should my relationship be with my surrogate before, during and after surrogacy?

Well, that depends. Just like any other relationship in your life, a gestational carrier-intended parent relationship develops over time. Most important, be open to seeing where the relationship goes. It is critical that the relationship grow to be trusting, respectful and positive fairly quickly and remain that way throughout the surrogacy. It may be that you and your carrier have a pleasant business like relationship; perhaps you will be soul mates. One is not better than the other, just different, and hard to predict in one match meeting. Just like everyone else, gestational carriers like to be appreciated and thanked for their efforts. You may end up best friends or perhaps you send holiday cards annually. Just keep it positive and respectful at all times. If you are really struggling with feelings of negativity towards your carrier, seek guidance from a mental health provider.

How do I know if my surrogate has the emotional maturity to handle this arrangement?

All surrogates are evaluated by a mental health professional to determine if they are psychological fit or unfit to be a gestational carrier. This evaluation typically includes an interview with the potential carrier and her husband, as well as administration of a standardized psychological test. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine has set guidelines for the psychological evaluation of gestational carriers and criteria they must meet.

What if I am upset by something my surrogate is doing?

The best thing to do when there is a disagreement is to talk to your surrogate in an honest, respectful, and non-reactive way. Speak to her as soon as there is an issue. It’s easy to let small problems get blown out of proportion. If this makes you anxious, utilize your resources to help guide you with the conversation, such as your agency or nursing staff, or mental health provider.

What kind of relationship should I have with my gestational carrier’s children?

Help your carrier’s young children understand the process and where the baby will be going. It’s much easier for a child to understand that their mom is going to be giving the baby to real people that they have met, versus trying to understand why their mom went to the hospital and came home without a baby. Help your carrier’s children by letting them see the baby when it is born and say goodbye.

Will my surrogate become emotionally attached and not want to give our baby to us?

Most gestational carriers who are from reputable agencies do not become so attached to the baby that they fight for the right to be the parent. Surrogates are growing and babysitting your child for nine months and have a very good understanding of that concept. However, just as a long term babysitter might be sad to say goodbye to a child they cared for, your carrier might be a bit sad to see the baby go home with you. This is completely normal. They will also be filled with pride and joy for how they were able to help. There is a huge difference between shedding a few tears when saying goodbye to the baby versus wanting to keep the child for her own. Most gestational carriers say that the hardest part of their job is not leaving the baby, but saying goodbye to the intended parents. After the birth, when parents are busy with a newborn, they don’t contact the carrier as much as they did before delivery. Carriers miss talking with their intended parents on a regular basis and having that close relationship.

Dr. Carrie Eichberg is a graduate of Tufts University and California School of Professional Psychology. She is a licensed psychologist in private practice specializing in reproductive psychology. Dr. Eichberg counsels patients regarding a variety of reproductive issues including infertility, third party reproduction, including donor conception and gestational surrogacy, miscarriage, and grief and loss issues. She conducts psychological evaluations for reproductive centers, donor agencies, and surrogacy agencies. Recently she organized a national conference on contemporary ethical dilemmas in reproductive medicine. She is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the Idaho Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association. She is a National Health Service Provider in Psychology and holds the Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology. Dr. Eichberg can be contacted by email at carrie@dreichberg.com or www.dr.eichberg.com.


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