Once I made the decision to become a surrogate mother and I was going into my first conference call, I had a list of questions that I wanted to know about my potential intended parents (IPs). I felt that getting to know them during that first contact could be tricky, but I knew that if I was prepared going in, I would feel better in the end. Choosing your IP(s) is a big part of your journey and should be decided only after all of your questions have been answered. I had certain qualifications in my mind for the match to be successful and I hope that by sharing them with you, it will help you in your search for your IP(s).
What type of couple are you wanting to help? Are you looking to help a single parent, or a couple?
Would you prefer a straight couple, or are you open to same sex couples?
Would it matter to you if your IP(s) have children already? Does it depend on what their infertility issues were?
Having some idea about the type of IP(s) you are looking for will make the match somewhat easier. We all have ideas of who we want to help become parents and this will help as you hear the story of what brought your IP(s) to surrogacy. Remember that no one will judge you for your decision on who you are wanting to work with or not. We all have expectations, IP(s) included, and its important to hang onto those.
What reasons do the IP(s) have for finding a surrogate? What are their infertility issues? Is there a condition that did not allow for the mother to carry a child? Is this a single intended father you are talking with? Has the couple been trying for a lengthy time to conceive a baby with no success? Has the couple dealt with multiple miscarriages?Sometimes we, as surrogates, choose couples based on why they cannot have a baby of their own. Whatever the reason for infertility, many times this will affect whether we move forward with the IP(s) or not.
What expectations do you have in regards to contact with your IP(s)? Does the couple want to stay in contact with you during the pregnancy and after the baby is born? Do they want to keep an open relationship or go their separate ways?
Some IP(s) chose to keep the surrogacy quiet, whether it is a decision based on their faith or circumstances. While others intend to tell the child how they came into the world. Consider their choice and decide if you are OK with what their expectations are. Are their thoughts for the future matching up with yours?
What about location? You might be more comfortable looking for IP(s) that are close enough to attend every appointment with you. Some surrogates want 110% involvement with their IP(s), others are looking for a slightly distanced relationship with their IP(s), filling them in on the developing pregnancy through Skype, email, or photos. Again, both sides of the journey have expectations in regards to location and closeness, which relates back to expectations of contact during the journey.
There are some more sensitive topics that you need to consider regarding your journey. You will need to be confident on your views ahead of time. Keeping to your beliefs about these topics is important and you need to feel comfortable discussing them with your IP(s) at the beginning, not as they may come up.
One of these areas are abortion and selective reduction. You already know what you feel, but asking your IP(s) to share their thoughts is a necessity at this point. Are the IP(s) doing genetic testing prior to transferring the embryos? Are they not wanting to have the pregnancy result in multiples? Do they, and you, understand the possible risks of selective reduction? In which situations are you comfortable doing selective reduction, or would you leave that decision completely up to your IP(s)? Though we are the ones carrying the baby, it is our IP(s) right to make these decisions. Knowing where your comfort level is beforehand will make the conversation easier to have.
How many embryos would you be willing to transfer? Would you go with what your IP(s) request of the doctor or do you have a limit for your body. Are you not wanting to carry multiples, or have you in the past and are OK with multiples? Bringing up embryo numbers prior to contract stage is always a good idea.
One last possibly sensitive issue for surrogates is amniocentesis. Some surrogates I talk to, myself included, discuss placing this on the “optional tests” list within the contract. Talking to your IP(s) about their views on this test. Discuss the ‘whys’, and the risks involved that concern you. Allowing their IP(s) to understand their views on amniocentesis beforehand is important to some surrogates.
There are plenty of potential intended parents whom you may wish to match with. However, it is wise to take your time with the matching process and become comfortable in the selection process during your surrogacy journey.