Episode 18 – Education – What if the relationship dissolves post-birth?
This does happen sometimes because surrogacy is hard. Nobody wants this to happen. How can we try and prevent it?
This page is part of a series of surrogacy education episodes from Anna. On the main podcast page you will find recent episodes and links to other categories: surrogates, gay dads, straight mums and guest / theme.
Join Anna McKie in conversation with surrogates and parents who have navigated Australian altruistic surrogacy. Anna is a gestational surrogate, high school Math teacher and surrogacy educator working with Surrogacy Australia and running SASS (Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service).
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What if the relationship dissolves post-birth? This does happen and it’s really hard for everyone in the team. Why does it happen? Because surrogacy is not easy. No matter where you do surrogacy, in Australia or overseas, it’s complicated. Doing altruistic surrogacy in Australia is not easy and commercial surrogacy overseas is not easy either. But they can be amazing. Altruistic surrogacy in Australia at its heart is about relationships and as we know relationships are complex.
We call it a Surroship, and that word was coined by a surrogate. And it’s more than a friendship that you would usually have in your life, where things are often 50-50, but it’s slightly less than the partnership that you would have with your lifelong partner, although there is some level of intimacy there as a surrogacy team, because you’re making a baby together and you usually only do that with your lifelong partner, not usually with your friends. So understanding the dynamic of a Surroship going into this is really important.
Having a baby the traditional way with two people and a hetero couple, well that brings challenges anyway. Each adult brings their own set of ideas, dreams, emotions, baggage, communication styles, and conflict resolution skills. So then you bring together three or four people to have a baby through surrogacy. It means you have more people with ideas about how the pregnancy and parenting should play out. Dreams of how the journey will unfold, emotions about the pregnancy, fears for the future.
thoughts on what support looks like during pregnancy and post-birth, both ideas about support from the surrogate and the intended parent’s point of view, different communication styles and methods for resolving conflict. When we get it right, surrogacy is amazing. You will have done something as a team which not many people get to experience. I think the highs of surrogacy might be similar to things like a sporting grand final when you’ve worked together as a team through a whole season, doing a musical production with a group,
maybe a long overseas trip with four people. Those types of sporting, musical or overseas events are things that were many months in the planning and you did together and you’ll probably never do it again, once in a lifetime. It was a really unique experience and the memories that you have from that together are so unique and special. Even with those other examples, as with surrogacy, when it’s relatively smooth, it’s still hard, it’s challenging and sometimes it doesn’t all go to plan. Sometimes these relationships are challenged and the humans involve struggle.
And struggle happens in partnerships every day, and so of course it’s going to happen in surrogacy too. Sometimes the surrogacy breaks down post-birth or even during pregnancy, and the team members stop contact. That’s hard for everybody involved because relationships are hard. Nobody goes into surrogacy expecting or wanting the relationship to end or dissolve post-birth. So how can we try and make sure that it doesn’t happen to our team? My advice would be keep communicating, lots of talking, bringing up issues when they are small.
You need to put everything on the table, lean into the discomfort, any small niggling thing that you’re feeling, bring it up with everybody, talk about it. Allow everyone in the team time to digest the issues, the things that are being talked about and then make a time to come back to discuss them together. But have a break, definitely making that time to come back. Have some professional counselling, both individually and as a team. There are psychologists in our surrogacy community now that specialise solely in surrogacy.
They deal with many other teams on a day-to-day basis and they understand this complex dynamic, this Surroship and how it plays out. So lean on them, call on their experience and have sessions booked in regularly. Don’t just leave it until there’s a problem. Have other people to lean on for support too.
Either people that you know who have done surrogacy before or people that you’ve met through the community, both other intended parents, IPs and surrogates. In SASS that I run, Surrogacy Australia’s Support Service, we have a mentor program so we can connect you with a mentor, I have gay dads, straight moms and surrogates and we can also help connect you with that surrogacy community. Mentors are a great opportunity to chat with somebody one-on-one so you can talk to somebody who’s done the same journey that you’re hoping to go on or that you are in the middle of.
Also, being respectful to each other and continue to communicate. And for IPs, under promise and over deliver, both in terms of the type of support that you can manage during a surrogate pregnancy and also what contact looks like post-birth. There’s a few ideas about why it breaks down post-birth and also some suggestions for teams to work on during your journey.
If you are finding these discussions useful, I would love it if you could leave a review wherever you listen to this show and you can find more information at surrogacyaustralia.org. Until next time, welcome to the village.
Looking to find a surrogate in Australia? Consider joining SASS.
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