The use of social media today – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, among many other different platforms – has become so ubiquitous that oftentimes we don’t give more than a passing thought to how we share information and the impact of what we share. And there’s no doubt that social media has helped facilitate quicker communication and cultivate a more global community, which in most cases, is a welcome development for the gestational surrogacy community.
The surrogacy community is a small one, particularly within the United States, and surrogate mothers often spend a good deal of time online. It’s understandable, for sure – while it’s unlikely that a gestational surrogate knows more than few other surrogate mothers in real life (if even that, depending on where she lives), she can easily connect with many others online – others who have gone through or are going through the same series of events that she is. By and large, the surrogacy community is a warm, welcoming, and supportive one.
As an intended parent, you too may be connected to one or more online groups or surrogacy-related accounts yourself, so you probably recognize how valuable they can be. You and your surrogate mother may have even found each other through a matching website or through social media. The surrogacy community’s online presence has opened up the process in ways we could have never predicted years ago, and most of these developments are for the better.
But given the personal nature of pregnancy, birth, and surrogacy in general, as well as given the inherently public nature of social media, it’s not a bad idea to take a few minutes to think through your own feelings about online information sharing – both your own posts and any posting or sharing your gestational surrogate may do.
Naturally, your gestational carrier will acknowledge and perhaps share details about her pregnancy experience – this is to be expected, since people can plainly see her growing belly in photos as well as in real life. To anyone except the casual passer-by, she’s likely to have shared that she’s a gestational surrogate and carrying the baby for someone else – this too is natural information sharing that’s to be expected. But over the course of the whole experience – pre-transfer preparations and the actual transfer, the pregnancy, the birth and beyond – how much privacy or publicity are you comfortable with?
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Am I comfortable with my name being used in social media? First name or first initial? Last name or last initial?
- Am I comfortable with my photo being shared on social media?
- Am I comfortable being “tagged” or “mentioned” on social media so others can find me, perhaps others whom I haven’t shared the news with?
- What health or medical updates am I comfortable sharing, or being shared by my surrogate mother?
- Once my child is born, what level of photo sharing am I comfortable with?
You may be at ease with sharing nearly every aspect of your surrogacy experience – many people are. They find comfort, support, encouragement and celebration to be one of the chief benefits of using social media, while they also enjoy educating the public about the loving miracle that surrogacy most often is. If you’re at ease with sharing, be sure to discuss that with your gestational carrier – not only to let her know she has the green light to share her experience as she sees fit, but also in case she has her own reservations or doesn’t share your same level of openness.
And the converse may be true as well – your surrogate might enjoy sharing updates and photos from the pregnancy, while you crave a bit more privacy. While you probably don’t want her to feel like you’re censoring her communication (and it’s likely that she’s receiving a lot of support from her online connections, which is valuable), it is important that you feel respected as well.
Having a talk early in the surrogacy matching process about online communication and information sharing is the best way to start your experience on the same page and avoid hurt feelings. Also, as things come up throughout the process (such as sharing the news of a pregnancy or a negative beta, or a medical complication), it’s wise to touch base on what’s okay to share and what you or your surrogate would prefer to remain private.
A good rule of thumb is that if you wonder to yourself if you should share something, it’s always better to ask first.
Everyone is working toward the same goal – walking the road to parenthood together and having a healthy, gratifying experience along the way, and everyone has different social needs to help them feel happy and fulfilled. Social media can be a great way to give and receive support, share information, and educate a large group of people, as long as all parties are comfortable with the level of sharing. And the only way to find out where that comfortable level exists is to ask – it’s a simple and ongoing conversation that will help everyone have the best experience possible.
About Susan Fuller
Susan Fuller is a mother to three and a surrogate mother to nine. Approximately 10 minutes after delivering her first child, Susan turned to her husband and said “Wow, I can’t wait to get pregnant and do that again!”
After completing her family three years later, Susan pursued her goal of becoming a gestational surrogate mother. Her first surrogacy resulted in carrying a set of twin girls and delivering them at 39 weeks. Her second surrogacy was another set of twins, this time both boys, who had a combined weight of more than 15lbs at birth. Her third, fourth, fifth and sixth surrogacies all resulted in single baby girls and her last surrogacy journey resulted in a baby boy. Although once in a while she still yearns to feel little kicking feet inside her belly, she’s put her childbearing years behind her with a feeling of accomplishment and a very, very full heart.
Susan lives in Virginia, outside of Washington DC with her husband, children, and menagerie of pets.