When I was a gestational carrier, I had one initial screening criteria for intended parents before I asked any other questions: I wanted to know how close they lived to me. For me, the closer the better.
I carried babies for six different couples in three different states, and since giving birth, many of them have moved away. However, when I was actually pregnant with their children, all of the couples were local to me. The closest one was 20 minutes away, and the farthest one was just over an hour away. This was entirely by design on my part.
In addition to really enjoying pregnancy and childbirth, what I wanted most out of surrogacy was to bond with my intended parents and enjoy sharing the pregnancy with them. I wanted them to come to all of my doctor’s appointments, I wanted them to see with their own eyes how my belly grew, and I wanted them to be able to feel with their own hands when their baby kicked, rolled, and hiccupped.
So by only working with couples who lived near me, did I get all this? Mostly, but not entirely. But I did get enough of it to be satisfied by the experience.
Given that I live in a big metropolitan area with a highly educated population and high cost of living, it wasn’t hard for me to match with intended parents that lived near me (gestational surrogacy is much more common in these areas and there is a higher concentration of fertility centers). But being able to work with someone locally is by far the exception rather than the rule – and I knew I was lucky in that respect.
Had I lived in a more rural area, chances are I would have had to compromise on something – either the suitability of my match (which is never a good idea to compromise on) or my location requirements. In retrospect it’s easy for me to see that while living away from my intended parents might have been disappointing, distance is a far easier hurdle to overcome than a bad match.
Not to mention that technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected. As it turned out, I grew closer to my intended parents through our phone conversations, emails and texts than I did during the times we actually spent together. Sure, it was nice to be able to see them in person each month, but it wasn’t really the hustle and bustle of our doctor’s appointments that helped us grow close. Instead, it was all the seemingly mundane, day-to-day contact by phone, text or email throughout the pregnancies that allowed our relationships to really grow and develop.
If you’re mulling over the issue of physical distance in your surrogacy arrangement, here are some things to consider. There are no right or wrong answers to any of the questions, merely preferences to take into consideration:
- Would you prefer to be able to see your gestational carrier frequently, or are you a very private person who might do better with less frequent in-person visits?
- Are you eager to attend each doctor’s appointment with your gestational carrier, or are you satisfied getting a summary after the fact?
- How much free time do you have to devote to getting together with your gestational carrier during the pregnancy, outside of doctors’ visits?
- How comfortable are you with technology beyond emailing and texting? Are you open to using video conferencing programs like Skype or Facetime?
- What is your budget for travel? If you choose a surrogate who lives far from you, how often will you be able to visit, if at all, prior to the birth?
- Given the area that you live, how likely is it that you’ll find a gestational carrier near you?
- If given the choice between working with someone near you but waiting longer for the match, or working with a carrier many hours away but matching and starting a cycle sooner, which would you choose?
By thinking through these questions and discussing them with your partner, you can hone in on what’s most important to you in your surrogacy experience and plan accordingly. But by having a clear picture of what you’re hoping to get out of the experience, your efforts will be much more efficient and successful. Even if it takes a little more time than you hoped, the right match is almost always worth the wait!