How To Explain Surrogacy To Family & Friends

For Parents

It’s normal for people to fall in love, decide to spend the rest of their lives together and then, one day when they feel they are mentally and financially prepared, commit to the idea of having children and raising a family. But sometimes, people taking this next step towards a family find that their efforts aren’t going to go the traditional route. In same-sex marriages, for example, the couple may simply not biologically equipped to naturally carry a child from fetus to infant. In some cases, there may be unfortunate medical considerations, like cancer treatments having made it medically inadvisable for a mother to bear children.

In these situations, it’s still possible to have a family with children that inherit the characteristics of their parents. However, the solution here is to go with surrogate motherhood. Surrogate motherhood is a very extensive, complex alternative that requires a lot of time and planning. It may also require a lot of explanation for an intended family that is going this route. So what happens if a couple decides to try surrogate motherhood? How should this hopeful family then go on to explain the situation to the people around them? There are a few key points that people should consider when beginning these conversations.

Prepare For The Basics

One of the key things that intended parents will need to keep in mind when talking to friends and family about this is that while they are learning about the surrogate motherhood process, they will also need to become teachers, not just students. Quite often, family and friends will not know much about this process themselves, and they will need to be educated about the fundamentals of how surrogate motherhood works.

So it’s important for an intended family to be comfortable with the concepts themselves, and then get used to explaining them to others. There are going to be a lot of questions. This can often mean the couple needs to discuss among themselves which questions they want to address, one of the most popular being:

The Question Of Why To Go With Surrogacy

In a lot of cases, one of the first questions a hopeful family may be asked is “Why?” So be prepared to have the answer ready if this is a question you’re willing to engage with. Sometimes the answer may be simple and already known, such as if there are medical problems that make natural childbirth risky or even impossible. But even if people know that a hopeful family may want to have a child, there may still be questions about why the choice is to go with a surrogate mother, rather than adoption.

Once again, the couple will need to discuss this and come to their own decisions about how to answer these questions. It may be as simple as the wish to go with in vitro fertilization and have a child that still shares the genetic characteristics of both parents. Whatever the case, the “why” question is always a big one.


This may be an uncomfortable topic for a couple to discuss, so it’s important to decide ahead of time how to respond—if at all—to this question. It’s important to remember that when people are asking these questions, there’s normally no malice, even if the questions themselves seem rude or intrusive. Children, in particular, may ask these questions with no idea at all of the appropriateness.

So it may come to pass that people will ask questions about the expense. Decide whether this is something you want to address, or, make the perfectly valid choice that not every question needs to be answered. Know where your line is when the inquiry is getting too personal, and you don’t feel a response is necessary.

The Surrogate Mother

Of course, there are bound to also be plenty of questions about the surrogate mother herself. People will want to know “how this works,” what kind of communication you have with the mother, how the mother herself is doing. In some cases, people may even question the legitimacy of your parenthood versus the surrogate mother that actually gives birth to the child.

The level of disclosure you have about the surrogate mother is going to depend a lot on your individual situation. For example, if you’ve actually found a family member that is willing to act as a surrogate mother, this changes the tenor of a conversation immensely for everyone. In some cases, the focus may then be on the surrogate mother herself rather than the intended family. On the other hand, if a couple decides to engage the services of a surrogate motherhood clinic in another country, this is a very different situation.

Just be aware that the uniqueness of the surrogacy situation means that curiosity will bring a lot of questions and conversations your way. Be prepared, and know what you’re willing to discuss.