Most of the time when I write these blog entries, I know what I want to say. An update, a little bit of humour thrown in, some surrogacy “info” thrown into the mix.
To be honest, I don’t know where this will end up! *random typing diarrhoea ensues*
I have no official role in the surrogacy community. I am not affiliated with anyone or any group, any brand etc. However, I do consider myself a very active member of the community. I field questions online, via private messages, emails and phone calls. I give my time generously to those who ask for it and I do what I can to instill in the community a sense of camaraderie and support. I am not alone in this venture. Many other men and women who are going through surrogacy, are at the start of their journey, have been through the process or who are surrogates themselves (past, present and future) all dedicate their time and energy to the same cause. I have made the most amazing friendships with people in this community that I never would have otherwise made. I get the warm and fuzzies when people I have so much affection for find a surrogate or commit to being one. I love the role that I contribute to this.
However, I find myself continually frustrated by those who appear to lack a sense of common courtesy when it comes to surrogacy in this country. Surrogacy is not a game. Nor is it a competition sport. Surrogates are not uteruses for the taking or for the purchase. Intended Parents are not tools to be used and abused or to bargain with. If this is the way in which we conduct ourselves, the losers will be the CHILDREN! Not just the children born of surrogacy but a surrogates children as well. No child should be born of a hostile relationship- surrogacy or otherwise.
I presented at a seminar last year about finding a surrogate. I want to draw on some of the topics I discussed at that seminar.
Sending bulk messages in any way shape or form to intended parents or surrogates who you have no existing relationship with is not acceptable. Surrogates do talk and sending the same message to 15 other women gets noticed- and not in a good way.
Be honest. If you are talking to more than one surrogate or intended parent, make sure the other party/ies know. They would be devastated seeing that an arrangement has been made when they thought they were still in with a chance.
READ HISTORIES!! This is so important! There is nothing worse than finding out that a surrogate who is struggling with another failed transfer has received a message from a random “someone” asking her to carry their child. Look through blog threads, search names on Facebook in groups and respect when they say they are not looking or have found someone.
Don’t be pushy. Be patient. Don’t expect a response to a post or message within 5 minutes. Respect that surrogates and IP’s don’t spend 24/7 trawling through social media and forum sites looking for each other and making connections.
Read through past posts and threads. They are a treasure trove of information and can answer lots of questions that you might have.
These are those niggly feelings that you get that could indicate that a potential arrangement is NOT going to work. Listen to your gut.
-Differences in personalities and values. Sure, relationships between vegans and fast food lovers do exist and can be lovely, but will they work for a surrogacy arrangement?
-Little or no support. If a surrogate’s partner wont support her during a pregnancy (and everything that comes before it), do not proceed! Also, both IP’s need to be on board in the acknowledgement that they require a surrogate and the progression down that path. No surrogacy is worth the breakdown of a relationship.
-No financial stability- on both sides. Surrogates need to know that Intended Parents have a financial contingency plan. Intended Parents need to know whether a surrogate can afford to be out of pocket until her expenses are reimbursed.
-Desperation/forcing the relationship. This basically means don’t make promises you can’t keep. For a surrogate, don’t say you will send weekly bump photos if you have no intention of doing so. Don’t say you will eat organic food only when you plan to indulge your cravings of Big Macs. IP’s, don’t promise your surrogate babysitting once a fortnight or 2 frozen meals a week if you can’t commit to this. Don’t agree to an ongoing relationship post birth if you have no intention of following through with this. Don’t agree because you think you have to. Don’t BS now because it will come to a head later. A relationship should be based on mutual respect and support.
-IP’s, if a surrogate asks for payment or a gift, politely decline and run for the hills! It is NOT LEGAL in Australia. Don’t think you have to pay up because you might not get another surrogate. This could be a very slippery slope with major implications down the line. Where does it stop?
-Parties wanting to rush. Take. Your. Time. There is so much invested in surrogacy by all parties. Get to know one another, be realistic about time frames and expectations.
I feel somewhat disillusioned with this community at the moment. We have put together a great unified stance for change to legislation yet behind the scenes, the lack of respect is rife. I personally have been asked to be someones surrogate in a 1 line message from someone who I have never communicated with before. It is well known I am on another journey and reading my blog, signature or history will tell you exactly that- it’s no secret! I have been hurt by friends that have disappeared upon the commencement of my new journey, indicating that what I believed to be a friendship wasn’t. I have been asked if my commitment to my IP’s is “final”. When I expressed interest in going again, I received repeated messages asking if I had made up my mind yet, have I “chosen” someone and can it be them?! These parties weren’t even close to being a consideration to carry for because of this one slip in judgement. Now, I am a pretty strong and confident woman not to take these things to heart but some surrogates aren’t like this. They naively come into communities with a specific sense of purpose and they are quickly beaten down by constant messaging, requests to assist, assumptions made and we have LOST potential surrogates because of this. Everybody loses out because a handful of people are disrespectful. On the flipside, surrogates playing IP’s- getting their hopes up, making promises and then disappearing without a trace, no explanation is also disgusting behaviour. Threatening to keep children if their needs are not met. Uteruses, people and children are not bargaining tools!
So what can we do?
We can start by treating one another with common courtesy. Welcome people into the community without an undertone of desperation or frustration that there is more “competition” now. If someone says no, they mean it. Don’t push for explanations if they don’t want to give them.
Realise that there are more IP’s looking for surrogates than there are surrogates and RESPECT this. Surrogacy is not a game, nor a competition. It is a harsh reality but there is no excuse to be rude. Think about whether you have truly canvassed your circle of family or friends. One recent IM wrote a letter to all of her friends, family, contacts and colleagues. She was open and honest about her situation, history and desire to become a mumma. She received SO much support and people cheering her on in her endeavours. She also has 2 women who have come forward to have a more serious chat with her about becoming her surrogate. 2 women who may have been considering surrogacy but didn’t think they knew anyone who needed one. Your surrogate can’t find you if she can’t see you!
If you want to initiate contact- ask. And upon initiating contact, take things slowly! Asking someone to carry a child for you, or offering to carry a child in initial conversations should be recognised as a red flag.
This isn’t me “bashing” surrogates and IP’s. It is me venting that surrogacy is MORE of a reason for the foundations of kindness and respect to be upheld. If you are not sure about something- ask. Don’t let something silly affect a relationship that has the potential to be something special.
So with all that being said, I am stepping back from the community for a little while. Just for a week or 2. I need to get out of my current mindset and back into one where I can support others with the positive attitude I am known for. Where the advice I give comes from an optimistic perspective, not a pessimistic one which I feel I am falling into the trap of. I also need to keep focusing on my journey- which by the way is going AMAZINGLY well. I will be back soon to update you with all that is counselling, legals, 300+ question personality tests and clinics!
Be kind. Be respectful. Be honest. Ask questions. Be yourself. xo