Am I Being Unreasonable?
A Gestational Surrogacy arrangement takes a monumental amount of trust from all parties involved. For many people, just the idea of leaving their child with a babysitter is difficult because of the feeling that no one can take care of your child as well as you can. Now imagine that feeling amplified by the fact that you can’t carry a baby and are trusting someone to be pregnant for you! This can leave surrogates with a lot of fear of unreasonable requests (and also can lead to actual unreasonable requests!). The biggest issue, of course, is that one person’s reasonable is another person’s ridiculous and unreasonable.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Before entering into a surrogacy arrangement all parties need to take some time for self-reflection on issues big and small. Your feelings on abortion, contact during pregnancy, contact after pregnancy, caffeine intake, diet restrictions, medical testing and interventions during pregnancy, vaccines and travel, only to name a few are major considerations. If a category stands out as highly important you it bears bringing up (and even if it doesn’t seem important, it’s also probably worth talking about!)
Defining Reasonable and Unreasonable
After reflection you should have an idea of what is important to you and what isn’t. Most of the time it boils down to perspective and compromise. Hopefully you have gone through a reputable agency that has matched you on the big issues such as termination and number of embryos to transfer, so those issues are out of the way quickly. Even if you are matched independently, it is vitally important that you swallow any discomfort about having those conversations and dive right in.
Some items can seem innocuous to one side but not the other. Asking a gestational carrier to receive all doctor recommended vaccines may seem perfectly reasonable to many intended parents, but if the gestational carrier is against all vaccines, then forcing her to receive a flu vaccine is going to seem entirely unreasonable to her. Conversely, the Intended Parents may not believe in vaccinating and ask the gestational carrier to refrain from receiving typical vaccines during pregnancy; the issue doesn’t only cut in one direction!
I have seen instances where Intended Parents asked the Gestational Carrier to not travel more than 50 miles from her home during the entire pregnancy. For some, especially those that live very close to family, that might not be a hardship, but imagine a situation where a gestational carrier’s parents live 90 miles from her home. In situations like that it’s important to be able to compromise and find out the root of the request. If the Intended Parents are simply concerned that the Gestational Carrier is near to an adequate hospital at all times it could be in that situation that they would be reassured to know that the carrier’s family is close to a hospital they trust and be willing to compromise.
When in Doubt, Talk it Out
Most items that can seem unreasonable at first can usually be solved by talking it out, as long as the big belief systems match. If a relationship seems like it is about to fracture, there’s nothing wrong with bringing in a neutral third party to help talk through and negotiate. Many social workers or psychologists are experts in dealing with infertility issues and could be great resources in helping each side understand the other when something seems unreasonable. Sometimes help seeing the perspective of the other side is all it takes to help bring about greater understanding and patience!