It’s important during this phase of your process to establish the foundation of your relationship with your surrogate. Here’s what I hear from surrogates about what they are looking for.
Surrogates are not looking for a new best friend. Their goal is to help you create your family and the pay-off for them is seeing you gazing at your newborn for the first time. During the process, however there are things that can help make your relationship smooth and pleasant. I always tell surrogates and intended parents that there are four things that make a surrogacy relationship work. They are trust, communication, appropriate boundaries and flexibility.
The most important ingredient in any surrogacy relationship is trust. Trust is the foundation of surrogacy and should be at the core of your relationship with your surrogate. This is not total, unconditional, blind trust, but trust as a mutual gift that you give one another. Surrogates want to feel that you trust them and that you know that your baby is in good hands. They don’t want or need to be managed by you (although of course it’s understandable that you want lots of details). If you have a solid foundation of trust in your surrogate and she in you, you will be able to relax and enjoy your surrogacy journey.
The next important ingredient in your surrogacy relationship is communication. While you and your surrogate will have a team of professionals that you can talk to throughout your journey being able to communicate with each other about your relationship and about the pregnancy will help you feel that you are really participating and it will help your surrogate feel that you really care. At the core of good communication is having clear and articulated expectations. It is totally appropriate to ask your surrogate how much and what kind of communication she wants. It is also important for you to be clear about how much communication you want. The best way to keep open lines of communication with your surrogate is to be interested in her and her life, but you can keep it light and let the relationship develop naturally.
Boundaries are an essential part of any relationship and the surrogacy relationship is no different. You can always open a boundary as the process progresses, but once you open a boundary up it is very hard to close it again. Be careful not to make promises that you can’t keep–remember your surrogacy relationship exists for one goal: to help you create your family. Intended parents sometimes make the mistake of “falling in love at first sight” with their surrogate when they meet her and realize that she is the woman who will help them fulfill their dream of parenthood. In that honeymoon phase they may reveal things or promise things that they later regret. The rule of thumb is: take it slow, be warm and authentic and have good boundaries.
The final ingredient in the surrogacy relationship is flexibility. Surrogacy is not a linear process and there are many points in the journey where flexibility will be essential. Remember that your surrogate probably has a very full life outside of the surrogacy and although your journey to parenthood may be first and foremost on your mind, she also has to think about her kids, her partner, and her job, and the surrogacy may not always be first in line for her attention. So, be flexible in your expectations of her. She doesn’t need to return your call instantly to be taking good care of her body and your baby!
Overall, your surrogate’s primary goal is to succeed at having your baby–the relationship that you have along the way is the backdrop for that unfolding story and the beginning chapter in your child’s life. When you trust each other, have good, open communication, live inside of appropriate and fluid boundaries and bring flexibility to all of your expectations you set the stage for a wonderful journey together!