You’ve probably heard about news headlines like:
“Woman gives birth to her own great-grandchild!” or, “Why I was a surrogate for my mom and gave birth to my baby brother.”
Despite their viral presence, these situations actually account for the smallest fraction of surrogacy situations and are incredibly rare. That’s because while surrogacy is always complex, surrogacy within the family — especially between children and parents — is often more complicated.
The parent-child bond is one of the strongest there is. So, it’s understandable and admirable that you’d want to help your loved one have the baby he or she is longing for. But first, it’s important you understand the challenges and benefits unique to this rare type of surrogacy agreement:
Becoming a Surrogate for a Parent
“Can I be my mom’s surrogate?” “Can I be a surrogate for my mom and stepdad?”
This may be a possibility for you, provided everyone involved meets the necessary requirements. You might consider becoming a surrogate for a parent because:
- Your mother had you at a very young age, and she’s struggling with infertility now.
- Your parent has remarried and would like to have another child with a new partner.
There are a few questions you’ll need to ask yourself at this point:
- Does your mother plan on using her own eggs, or will she use a donor? Using your own eggs (i.e. traditional surrogacy) should not be a consideration, as you would be carrying your own sibling/child in this situation. This is too ethically hazy, not to mention emotionally complex.
- Do you meet the requirements to be a surrogate? Review the requirements in detail with a professional. If your mother is asking you to be her surrogate, you may be too young or your own family may not be complete, which would disqualify you.
- Can you emotionally handle carrying your own sibling? Even though, as a gestational carrier, you wouldn’t be the baby’s mother, are you prepared to eventually talk to your little sibling about the experience of carrying him or her? Are you comfortable giving birth to your sibling? Remember, hiding a child’s surrogacy story is never an option.
If you decide that being a surrogate for your parent isn’t right for you, it may be painful to say “no,” but it’s always better to decline than to feel pressured to carry your sibling.
Becoming a Surrogate for a Child
“Can a mother be a surrogate for a daughter?” “Could I be a surrogate for my son and his spouse?”
As a parent, you’d do anything to help your child. Is becoming his or her surrogate the best way for you to do this? Ask yourself:
- Are you physically able to safely become a surrogate? The requirements for surrogacy aren’t just for your protection; they’re for the safety of your future grandchild. The older a woman is, the riskier pregnancy becomes for both her and the baby.
- Am I young enough for surrogacy? The requirements for each professional will be different, but most won’t work with surrogates over 40 years old, because of the risks that “advanced maternal age” poses, no matter how otherwise healthy you are. If you’ve reached menopause, then you’ll usually already be disqualified because of these changes to your uterus and hormone levels.
- Are you prepared for the relationship shifts of carrying for your child? As the intended parents, your children will have the right to make requests of you and will be in charge of the process. Are you comfortable with them being “the parents” and the boss in this scenario?
If surrogacy isn’t the right fit for you, or isn’t an option, there are always other ways to help your children outside of being a surrogate. “Grandmother” is a role that you make all your own — and, even if you don’t help bring your grandchild into the world as a surrogate, you can still be the best grandparent possible to him or her in the years to come!
Some Important Advice for Multigenerational Surrogacy
If you meet the necessary surrogate requirements and have decided that you’re fully prepared for the unique challenges and benefits of parent-child surrogacy, then take a few pieces of advice before you begin:
- Gestational surrogacy only. Becoming a traditional surrogate for a parent or child has serious ethical implications, because the surrogate would be the biological mother of the child. In family surrogacy, it’s certainly best to stick to gestational surrogacy only.
- Work with a professional. A surrogacy professional’s job is to focus on the physical, legal and emotional safety of everyone involved, especially the future child. Parents and children trust each other more than anyone else, but in such uncharted territory for your family, you should turn to a professional for support and guidance and listen to their advice.
- Take the surrogate requirements very seriously. While there certainly have been parent-child surrogacy situations where everyone meets the requirements easily, it’s common for one person to be too young or too old for surrogacy. This can be frustrating when you want to help your loved one so badly, but the requirements are there for an important reason — the health and safety of future babies. If you don’t meet the requirements, remember that there is a surrogate out there who does and who is willing to help.
Becoming a surrogate for anyone is an amazing gift of love. Doing this for your parent or child is an additionally meaningful act. If you’d like to ask more questions about multigenerational surrogacy, or if you’re ready to begin the process, contact a surrogacy professional.