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Where’s The Baby?…casual encounters of a surrogate.

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My neighbor comes out and takes her kids to school at the same time I do almost every morning (they go to a different school otherwise we’d totally car pool). We’re not close, but we’re civil: “Hi,” “Good Morning,” “Going to be cold isn’t it?” that kind of thing.  She saw how I was pregnant throughout the year but we never really talked about it. She smiled at the bump and asked if it was a girl or a boy? I just said “girl” and smiled back.  We’re in that morning rush and I wasn’t going to pull her aside to tell her I’m a surrogate, explain the whole deal to her, and make our kids late to school and most likely freak her out in the process. It just wasn’t convenient.

Well, after I had delivered and was up on my feet again taking the girls to school, she sees me. Clearly not pregnant anymore and… no baby anywhere… no car seat… no nothing. I said “Good morning”, smiled and pulled away. I could tell she was thoroughly confused. Her eyes were processing. Should she be apologetic, sympathetic? Had something terrible happened? But I was happy, not grieving? What had I done with the child! The next few times we saw each other, I could tell she was clearly baffled but she never brought it up and since then she doesn’t really speak to me at all. I can tell I unsettle her but I don’t feel like I need to explain my life to an almost stranger. I’m friendly and open so maybe someday she’ll ask. Especially now that I’m going to do it again 🙂

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I’ve had many similar situations with the people I see on a daily basis. The ones you’re not close to but are friendly enough to say hello to. The crossing guard at my daughter’s school, my bank teller, the lady who always seems to get in the elevator at the same time I do, the dad picking up his son in my daughter’s class, every one of these people has made casual remarks about me being pregnant. I’ll vaguely answer “It’s a girl,” “due in September,” or “I don’t know the name yet.”  And if I have the time or I feel comfortable enough around them I’ll tell them what’s what and that: “it’s not mine”, or “I’m a surrogate.” I never, ever know how they’ll react. I had the check-out lady at Target come around the register, give me a big hug, a kiss on the cheek, and with tears in her eyes tell me what a wonderful thing I was doing; since her daughter couldn’t conceive and she knew how I was changing someone’s life. That was totally unexpected and made me cry (also I was hormonal from being pregnant at the time). I had a man look at me in disgust and snidely remark to his wife that he could never allow her to “sell a baby”. My husband had to pull me away at that point (again, hormonal and would most likely have ripped him a new one).

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There was that one time I was out with my 5 year old and a woman made a comment to her about getting a little brother or sister and my daughter looked up at her and quipped “It’s not even ours.”  I’ve never seen a woman walk away so quickly without trying to look like it. Awkward! But I have to admit I laughed after she left.

My kids have been great with this. They absolutely loved everything about me being a surrogate for another couple. They don’t want any more sibling competition and are happy that Mommy is helping others to become parents too. They get it. I think it clicked more easily for them than it did with my friends. I have found that my 8 year old had been telling her teacher and all her school friends about me before I had a chance to myself. Her teacher then bragged to other teachers about what I was doing so that when I went in to tell her, everyone knew already and it was no big deal.

People will always amaze you. For better or worse. I have found it’s usually for the better. And what’s more amazing is that surrogacy is becoming “The New Normal.” People tend to just be curious these days instead of ignorant or closed minded. There is a part of me who wants to get a pamphlet printed out entitled: So the Woman you’re Speaking to is a Surrogate: 10 most FAQ’s. That way I can just be like “here you go… talk to me if you have any questions, my number is on the back.” Because that has happened! I’ve had not one but two friends of friends who have heard what I have done, asked for my phone number and have picked my brain about the whole thing. It’s amazing. When I signed up to become a surrogate I didn’t even think about these situations occurring in my life; but I’m sure glad they have. It’s a whole new world out there.

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Building that bond….how Intended Parents act with surrogates

Speaking with IP’s (Intended Parents) and surrogates alike–as well as taking from my own personal experiences–there are two types of relationships that IPs tend to cultivate with their surrogates: familial and business.

The familial is how it sounds. The IPs welcome the surrogate into their lives with open arms, believing that this woman is giving them the greatest gift of all. The hope is for a continued relationship with her after the child is born. Often, this is displayed as going out to dinner together, bringing her and her family gifts and showing other signs of their appreciation. After delivery, they tend to send pictures and email updates to their surrogate mother. Throughout the years they may even visit, forming a continuous bond made for life.

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In the second situation, the IPs believe they are reimbursing the surrogate for services rendered concluding with the birth of their child. The road to becoming parents has been so difficult for them that they do not wish to have anything possibly hinder them in their endeavor. The surrogate is a necessity, but not necessarily an extended part of their family or someone they wish to stay in contact with. Some may not even wish to tell their children how they were conceived, due to personal reasons.

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Both of these views are completely understandable and should be acceptable to anyone choosing to become a surrogate. However, both types of IP’s have been known to switch sides during or right after their journey. For most, the journey is uncharted territory and it is very difficult to know what your emotions will be like during each stage. Incredibly supportive IP’s have cut ties abruptly with surrogates once the baby is born and somewhat apprehensive ones have opened up and taken to their surrogate more than they expected.

What is really needed for the whole process to work is a calm understanding.  A surrogate needs to understand that the IPs have gone through more than they could imagine to get to this point; it’s only natural for them to be scared when they perceive that they are so close and yet still so far from their dreams. The IPs need to understand that the surrogate has chosen her role to help a family in need, knowing full well that the child is not hers.  She will go through many changes she’s experienced before, but this time there is a mix of altruism and the unknown that are present. Both sides need to be able to trust one another.

No company knows this better than Surrogate Alternatives.  Not only is this their trade, this is their passion. Filled with past and present surrogates and egg donors they understand the entire process from both sides. Their goal is to tailor each surrogacy to each person’s expectations. They know how to match IP’s with the right kind of surrogate so that trust and understanding can thrive.  No matter the family dynamic, they strive to give 100% of their time, effort and experience into each arrangement so that a healthy, happy baby (or two) may be born into a loving family. Every one of them fits a heart shape.

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