By Mary Ellen McLaughlin

Most surrogates-to-be come to ARR thinking they’ll forge a relationship with the biological parents that will last forever. And for many, they do. (We have one relationship where the surrogate’s entire family has been invited to every birthday party of the child she carried five years ago!)

Other times, however, the relationship ends as soon as the baby is born. And the surrogates find themselves at a loss. They just spent a year, in some cases longer, on this project and now it’s just gone.

When our surrogates go through this, we encourage the gestational surrogate to speak with me and their psychologist as soon as possible. We both are there to lend our support. In some respects, the surrogate is going through the five stages of grief identified by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross – but they are grieving the loss of a profound relationship. Here’s how it typically goes:

  • Denial: “I cannot believe they just stopped talking to me. Something must be wrong.”
  • Anger: They are offended at the abrupt end to the relationship, when they’ve just performed such an enormous and life-changing service.
  • Bargaining: “Maybe if I had called or visited them more often, things might have been different.”
  • Depression: It can be a damper on their mindset to find that they had unrealistic expectations for the relationship.
  • Acceptance: Ultimately, surrogates will come to an understanding about the relationship and will still get pleasure from having helped someone else create a family.

Many prospective parents start this process with an eye to forging a long-term relationship with their surrogate. But the reality is that as soon as the child is born, their lives are turned upside down. They become consumed with their new life and family in front of them and lose contact with their surrogate. (And face it, there may be some discomfort over time with being reminded that someone else gave birth to their child.)

Like all relationships, communication is key. Surrogate and intended parents need to be up front about their expectations for each other, and they need to share this with their agency and attorney. The more honest and open you are, the happier everyone will be when all is said and done.

Mary Ellen McLaughlin is a partner with Alternative Reproductive Resources. She can be reached at maryellen@arr1.com.

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