Thinking about the genetic donor and surrogate

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Getting pregnant as a gay man isn’t simple. It takes planning and effort, usually over a long period of time. Also, let’s face it, getting pregnant requires the help of a woman. Actually, sometimes it involves the help of two. An egg might be sourced from one woman, known as the genetic donor. While a second woman, known as the surrogate, might carry and give birth to the child. Due to importance of their involvement, thinking about the genetic donor and or surrogate mother is important. In this post, Pink Families explores some of the thoughts that we may have when thinking about the genetic donor and surrogate mother.

Who will be the genetic donor?

Qualitative research has shown that gay and bisexual men sometimes evaluate the genetic donor before making the decision about whether or not to approach them for an egg.

This includes assessing some of their characteristics, including their age, race, physical appearance and physical abilities. Their medical history might also be assessed. Plus, consciously or unconsciously, their intelligence, attractiveness and their ability to be creative might be evaluated. Thinking about these aspects is natural.

It is also natural to make comparisons between the genetic donor’s qualities and yours and, if you have one, their qualities and the qualities of your partner.

You will be spending the rest of your life with your child and this child will have some of the characteristics of their biological father(s) and genetic donor. It makes sense to consider these factors. It is important and natural to think about this.

How do you choose the surrogate mother?

There is no easy answer to this question. Many clinics recommend that you attend appointments with the surrogate throughout the pregnancy. This recommendation might mean that you consider practical factors such as where the surrogate lives and how long it will take for you to visit them.

If you do spend time with the surrogate throughout the pregnancy then you will also most probably develop some sort of relationship with them.

With this in mind, it is useful to consider how much involvement you would like to have with the surrogate throughout the pregnancy. Thinking about the qualities you would like them to have might make the pregnancy an easier and enjoyable process. This means that you will probably consider their emotional, cognitive and psychological characteristics alongside practical factors.

In addition to forming your own opinions about what’s important, research is beginning to investigate the psychological qualities of surrogate mothers.

Research findings

For example, one study compared the psychological profiles of 43 surrogate mothers with 40 women who were not surrogates. They found that potential surrogates were tough-minded people, they were also sensitive and resilient enough to manage the role of surrogacy. They found that the surrogate mother also needed to be aware of the importance of emotional boundary-setting during pregnancy.

More than just the sum of their parts

While it is all well and good to evaluate the characteristics of surrogates from data compared in a research laboratory, it’s also important to remember that sometimes the genetic donor and or surrogate become much more than someone who just donates an egg, and or carries your child and gives birth to them. They sometimes, but not always, become involved with your family in some way. In this respect, the consideration of who will be the genetic donor and surrogate mother is very important.

References

Armour KL. An overview of surrogacy around the world: trends, questions and ethical issues. Nursing for Women’s Health 2012 Jun-Jul;16(3):231-6.

Berkowitz D, Marsiglio W. Gay men: negotiating procreative, father, and family identities. Journal of Marriage and Family 2007;69:366-381.

Pizitz TD, McCullaugh J, Rabin A. Do women who choose to become surrogate mothers have different psychological profiles compared to a normative female sample? Women and Birth : Journal of the Australian College of Midwives 2013 Mar;26(1):e15-20.

An interview with a surrogate from Australia is featured in the video below.

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