Becoming a surrogate is big news. You’re about to embark on a journey that will change your life forever, and you’re excited for the challenges and rewards ahead of you.
When you first researched this decision, you probably learned all about the importance of a strong support system. Surrogacy is not a journey you can take alone; having friends and family who are there for you every step of the way will make a huge difference.
But, where does extended family fit in this support system — especially if they live too far away to be of any practical use during your journey ahead?
Whether or not you include your extended family directly in your support system, you should always consider how they will be involved in your surrogacy experience. And that all starts with deciding whether to tell them of your surrogacy news.
We know this subject can be tricky, which is why we’ve created this guide to talking about surrogacy with your aunts, uncles, grandparents and more. Every family is different, but these steps can help you find the right path for yours.
Step 1: Decide Who You Want to Tell.
First, you need to answer the most important question: Who should know about your surrogacy journey?
When you first become a surrogate, it’s normal to want to share your news with all of your loved ones. However, if your loved ones are unfamiliar with (or disapproving of) the surrogacy process, you may waste a great deal of time, energy and emotions explaining your journey — and trying to convince them that surrogacy is a good thing.
You should only share your surrogacy journey with those who will be supportive of your choice. Off the top of your head, who do you think will best support you and share your excitement about this decision? Usually, they will be the extended family members you have the best relationships with.
So, we suggest starting with them when it comes to sharing your surrogacy news.
Step 2: Think About the Support You’re Looking For.
Once you have identified who you want to tell about your decision, you also need to identify what kind of support you are looking for. Having an idea of what you want from each family member will carve out a unique space for him or her in your support system.
Have a nearby aunt or uncle? You might ask them for practical support, such as watching your children while you attend appointments or making your family dinner when you’re too tired to do so. Have a close cousin who lives a little too far away? Plan to lean on them for additional emotional support; it can be nice to talk to someone who is not directly involved in the everyday surrogacy responsibilities.
Step 3: Prepare for the Conversation.
You’ll also need to prep for this conversation by identifying some of the biggest misconceptions about surrogacy — and have answers ready for those extended family members who are unsure about surrogacy or hold dated views on the process.
These conversations can be tricky, so we advise surrogates to prepare some notes ahead of time. When you know what you will say, you will be better prepared for all kinds of responses from your extended family. In case someone unfortunately responds negatively, you will have the tools ready to not only protect yourself but stand strong with your original decision.
Step 4: Talk to Your Family Member.
Once you have done the prep work, it’s time to finally tell your loved one about your surrogacy decision. Pick a time and place where you can talk for as long as you need without interruption. You’ll want to consider whether it’s easier for you to tell multiple family members at the same time or repeat the conversation several times as a one-on-one talk.
It’s important to develop a conversation style that works for you, but here are our basic suggestions:
- Start by introducing or explaining the surrogacy process.
- Share your plans to be a surrogate.
- Explain why you have chosen this path.
- Reassure with an explanation of the legal and medical protections in place.
- Offer suggestions for their future support.
- Emphasize your excitement for this journey and your hopes that they’ll join you along the way.
Step 5: Respond Appropriately.
This last step often depends on how your loved one reacts to your news. Odds are, if you have a close relationship with them, they’ve known about your interest in surrogacy for a while — and your announcement probably won’t come as a surprise.
On the other hand, your loved one may need some time to process your news and learn a bit more about surrogacy themselves. They may have questions for you, so be prepared for the well-meaning but insensitive or ignorant comments. If their negative response becomes mean or hateful, be mentally strong enough to remove yourself from the conversation.
Remember, when it comes to surrogacy, only you can decide what is best for you. It’s tempting to want the approval of extended family, especially your elders, but you must be confident in your decision. Surrogacy is your dream, after all.
Sometimes, professional guidance can be a great aid as you’re preparing for these conversations with extended family. If you haven’t yet started your surrogacy journey, you can contact a professional for free by filling out this informational form.