How to Ask Someone Close to You to Be Your Surrogate
Asking a loved one to aid in childbearing is the ultimate compliment and the ultimate favor. As the initiator, examine the big picture as well as the here and now. The challenges of infertility can cloud judgment with desperation, and bad communication leads to hurt feelings. It's the grown-up version of the Golden Rule and it's true of every relationship, whether that's personal or professional, romantic or platonic. Recruiting a friend or family member in conception is no different.
Presumably, your intended surrogate is someone whose character and values match up with your own. We're also assuming they meet the physical requirements for surrogacy. Ideally, this is a loved one with whom you share a bond that has faced and overcome difficulty before with open, assertive communication. A loved one who's been open in the past about very personal issues, such as their sex life and own health (maybe even too open), is also more likely to be transparent about lifestyle choices during pregnancy. A friend close enough to be blunt with you and know the relationship will survive may feel more intimidating to ask, but an honest answer is worth it.
The final consideration is if surrogacy would be in their best interest, physically and emotionally. If they're in a couple, is the relationship strained? Would this choice isolate their partner or could their family be supportive? Is this something they want to do?
Gestational Carrier or Surrogate?
Before the discussion, make sure you know what you're asking of them. Are you asking your loved one to be a surrogate, or to donate their egg to the embryo? If you are asking them to be a gestational carrier, then the embryo has no biological tie to them besides growing in their womb. Some women are comfortable with carrying the child but not being related to them. If you have an egg donor in mind, lead with that. If not, communicate effectively to negotiate what is comfortable for both parties.
Popping the Question
At least for the preliminary pitch, plan with your partner whether one of you should be present or both. Enthusiasm for parenthood is a convincing reason to go all out and pop the question in a way befitting the occasion. But look at the situation from the other perspective. Is this friend someone with a closer bond to either you or your partner? Would they feel intimidated by having both of you present?
You may feel compelled to handle nerves by providing food and alcohol for the conversation, but consider if you want your friend's judgment compromised by drinking. An agreement under duress isn't really an agreement at all, and making a "no" difficult in the present can lead to a much more awkward and upsetting "no" in the future.
In the interest of fairness, plan to make your appeal using logic guided by information. If your loved one is already familiar with your difficulties with infertility, it's unnecessary to regale them with the whole saga. An emotional pitch meant to invoke pity has the appeal of potential immediate success, but it's not fair to your would-be carrier.
This is not the time for coyness. Prepare to talk through what role both of you want them to have in your potential child's future. Consider financial matters clearly and very specifically. Some topics you may want to cover include:
- Will you cover the transportation to their OB-GYN appointments?
- Will you also attend the appointments?
- Would you cover prenatal classes and would you attend or would their partner?
- Are you financially comfortable with medical plans deviating (such as an unexpected hospital stay or additional medical care)?
It's worth compiling a list of the most minute topics, but only if you can balance your own readiness with giving them space. Information and details are reassuring once they've agreed, but the same spiel is overwhelming to someone on the fence.
It's as awkward as any prenup, but you may even want to look into having a legally binding contract drawn up. If you have any doubts about your own communication skills, do some research beforehand and prepare for the talk with aid from a professional counselor.
Approach the situation not just hopefully as a future parent, but as your potential surrogate's trusted loved one.