It’s selfless expression of love when a woman asks, “Can I be a surrogate mother for my sister?” or, “Can a sister be a surrogate for her brother?” It’s wonderful that you want to help your brother or sister in such a life-changing way! However, there are some important things you should know first.
Below, find eight of the most common questions about being a surrogate for a sibling. The answers may help you decide if being a surrogate for your sister or brother is right for you and your family:
1. Can I be a surrogate for my sister? Can I be a surrogate for my brother?
The requirements can vary somewhat depending on the state(s) you both live in and the surrogacy professional you work with. But typically, in order to become a surrogate for your brother or sister, you must:
- Have had at least one successful pregnancy and birth with no complications
- Be raising a child in your own home
- Have no unresolved mental health illnesses or addictions
- Have a healthy BMI
- Be between the ages of 21 and 40
- And more
So, can siblings do surrogacy? Surrogacy laws vary by state, but as long as you’re certain that you’re ready for surrogacy, you meet the requirements and you’re completing a gestational surrogacy, being a surrogate for your sibling is often possible.
2. How do I become a surrogate for my sister or brother? What’s the process like?
In most respects, the surrogacy process will be unchanged for you. The primary differences will be that you won’t need to search for a surrogacy partner and that your relationship will be different than it would be for most intended parent-surrogate matches.
So with that knowledge, there are a few steps you should take before you begin the process:
- Educate yourself about the surrogacy process in detail. Be sure that you’re ready to take on an approximately year-long commitment that requires so much of your physical and emotional energy, your time and the support of your immediate family.
- Start the screening process with your surrogacy professional. This step can be time-consuming, and it’s important to make sure that you’re physically and emotionally ready for the journey ahead.
- Undergo pre-surrogacy counseling with your surrogacy professional. You and your sibling should work with someone who is experienced in maintaining intended parent-surrogate relationships throughout the process. Surrogacy is an emotional journey that can strain even the closest relationships, and a professional will help guide you through that while making sure your sibling bond comes out stronger than ever. Your relationship with your sibling will change because of surrogacy, and counseling will help you both to prepare for this.
One more note: It’s just as important for siblings to have a legal contract as it is for any intended parent-surrogate match. This is for everyone’s protection, but it also serves as a roadmap in the event of unforeseen circumstances and more. A contract is never a corner you can cut!
3. What’s the difference between being a gestational vs. traditional surrogate for my sister or brother?
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate uses her own egg to create the embryo, making her the biological mother of the baby. In gestational surrogacy, an egg from a donor or intended mother is used, so the surrogate is not the biological mother of the baby. You can learn more about the differences here.
As you can imagine, traditional surrogacy involves far more legal and emotional complications than gestational surrogacy. If you were to be a traditional surrogate for your sibling, you would be the mother of your brother or sister’s child. You can see where that’d be complicated for a lot of different reasons.
Gestational surrogacy is the recommended course for all situations — but particularly in sibling surrogacy journeys.
4. Is it weird for sisters to be surrogates? Is it weird to be a surrogate for your brother?
This is a deeply personal question that only you can answer.
Remember that in gestational surrogacy, you would not be the biological mother of your sibling’s child. Surrogates also become pregnant through embryo transfers, so fears of incest are a non-issue. All told, it’s a very clinical process.
However, you’ll have to be the one to decide if this is too awkward of a situation for your relationship with your sibling. With siblings, there are emotional considerations that you have to think about that you wouldn’t in other surrogacy situations, such as:
- Jealousies. Not being able to carry one’s own child is often a very painful experience for intended parents, which is often compounded by the grief of infertility. Your sibling may have always envied your family and may envy your ability to carry his or her child. Old sibling rivalries often emerge, especially between sisters.
- Financial awkwardness. Because you’re considering being a surrogate for a sibling, you’ve likely considered altruistic surrogacy, which means you wouldn’t be compensated outside of reimbursement for pregnancy- and surrogacy-related expenses. This would seem to make sense, but it’s actually not recommended, even for siblings. Without some amount of compensation, surrogates can wind up paying for some of the out-of-pocket costs. Discussing finances is often awkward and can breed resentment, so it’s best if you have a professional on board when you establish all of this within your contract together.
- Personal boundaries. You might be close with your sibling, or you might not be. Regardless, surrogacy will change your relationship forever. Sisters and brothers will need to be comfortable being in the obstetrician’s appointments and delivery room together, for example.
- Family dynamics. This journey will affect your entire family. Even in gestational surrogacy, you’ll share a unique bond with the niece or nephew you carried. Your children, your other nieces and nephews, your parents and other family members all need to be prepared for the process ahead.
5. My sister wants me to be her surrogate, but I’m not sure I’m on board with it — how do I say no?
Many of the women who find themselves asking, “Should I be a surrogate for my sister?” or “Should I be a surrogate for my brother?” do so because they feel pressured to help their sibling.
It’s hard to watch your brother or sister struggle to have the family they’ve dreamed of. And it’s hard to know that you might be able to help, but for whatever reason, becoming a surrogate isn’t an option for you right now.
- Thank your brother or sister for putting so much trust in you.
- Gently but firmly explain why you need to decline.
- Let them know how you plan to help them in their journey to become a parent.
Maybe being a surrogate for your sibling isn’t right for you. That’s OK. There are plenty of women out there who are ready for this journey. Perhaps you can help your sibling fundraise to continue the surrogacy journey, work with an attorney to search for the right surrogate, and more.
You can still be an amazing aunt without being a surrogate.
6. I’m considering being a surrogate for my sister — but will my kids be confused?
“Is becoming a surrogate mother for my sister going to confuse or upset my kids?” “If I’m a surrogate for my brother, will my kids understand that the baby is their cousin and not their sibling?”
These are common fears, but you’d be amazed at how much kids actually understand.
Children are open-hearted, they roll with the punches, and they’re smarter than we give them credit for. Once you explain surrogacy to your kids, they’ll likely just be excited to have a new cousin and that you’ll all be helping their aunt or uncle, as a family.
7. What are the pros and cons of being a surrogate for my sister/being a surrogate for my brother?
This is a tough question to answer, because it’s fairly personal to each individual. What one woman might see as a benefit, another might see as a drawback. However, for most, the pros and cons of surrogacy with a sibling include:
- Saving the intended parents for the cost of matching fees to find a surrogate
- Having a close relationship with the intended parents and the child — before, during and after the process
- Potentially becoming closer through an intimate, year-long process
- Potential for emotional issues or resentments, which could cause a rift in your relationship
- Financial awkwardness about who handles what costs
- Potential for long-term changes in family dynamics, such as sibling or cousin jealousies
- Feeling more pressured during the process to agree to things because the intended parent is your sibling
Being a surrogate for a sibling has benefits and challenges that are unique to this type of surrogacy, and you should always consider them carefully before you make your decision.
8. Where can I learn more about how to become a surrogate for my sister or brother? How do I start?
Your first step should be to contact a surrogacy professional. They’ll be able to answer any additional questions you might have about how to become a surrogate for your sibling and can help you begin the process whenever you’re both ready.