What Does a Surrogate Support Person Do?
Behind every gestational surrogate is an amazing Primary Support Person (PSP). We often refer to a surrogate’s support person as the unsung heroes of the surrogate pregnancy! The role of a surrogate mother’s Primary Support Person is to be the emotional, physical and mental support of the surrogate throughout her journey. This role is so important, that having a PSP is a requirement for all gestational carriers who apply to become surrogate mothers with Circle Surrogacy.
What is a Primary Support Person?
A Primary Support Person is someone who agrees to be the person who shares in the surrogacy journey with a gestational carrier. The PSP provides surrogate support at every step of the process. If the surrogate has a spouse or partner, that is usually who the Primary Support Person will be. If the surrogate is single – or if there is another person in her life who she chooses to be the most involved in the journey – the Primary Support Person can be a mother, sister or friend.
Qualities of a Primary Support Person
A Primary Support Person has a very important role in the surrogacy journey. The surrogate whom they are supporting is giving the ultimate gift to intended parents, and as her support person, it is your job to fully support her in any way she needs.
Qualities of a Primary Support Person include:
Openness and honesty
Dedication to the journey
Ability to put others’ needs before your own
What Does the Surrogacy Process Look Like for a PSP?
Here is a look at the surrogacy process for a surrogate’s Primary Support Person.
The Surrogacy Consultation
While supporting a surrogate applicant during the application process, a Primary Support Person can expect to be part of the Surrogacy Consultation. The Surrogacy Consultation is a long-form interview with a Social Worker from Circle. The PSP’s Surrogacy Consultation will last approximately 1-1 1/2 hours over the phone.
During this call you’ll answer questions about yourself, as well as your relationship, and you’ll discuss in detail the commitments involved in a surrogacy. This call is an opportunity to ask all of your questions about surrogacy, what a journey is like for a surrogate, and what you will be expected to do.
Matching With and Meeting Intended Parents
Circle Surrogacy matches surrogates and intended parents on three factors: legal fit, personality fit and expectations surrounding termination and selective reduction.
Once a potential intended parent match has been identified, the surrogate will receive a redacted profile via email to review with her Primary Support Person. At the same time, the surrogate’s profile will be sent to the intended parents. If all parties are comfortable moving ahead with each other, Circle will arrange a video call for everyone to “meet”. During this call, the surrogate and support person have the opportunity to get to know the intended parents to see if they would be a good match. Both the surrogate and her PSP need to feel like the intended parents are the “right match” for the monumental journey ahead.
"The best part about this is the relationships you develop with each of the families." - A Circle Surrogate's Primary Support Person
Contracts and Medical Screening
Once matched, you and the surrogate you’re supporting will be introduced to the team of people at Circle who will help you during the journey. One of those team members will be outside legal counsel who will work with the gestational carrier (and the PSP) on the legal agreement. The carrier’s counsel will ensure the surrogate’s rights are protected as they draft, negotiate and finalize the Carrier Agreement.
While the legal contract is being drafted, the team at Circle will arrange for the surrogate’s medical screening at the intended parents’ IVF clinic. The Primary Support Person has a big role in the medical screening, as the PSP will be the person to accompany the gestational carrier at the appointment. If the PSP is the carrier’s spouse/partner, the PSP may also be required to undergo routine blood testing or have a urine sample collected as well, to test for nicotine, drugs, and STDs. The medical screening is typically an overnight visit, so the PSP should plan to be available for this travel and time away from work, etc.
The Embryo Transfer
About midway through the IVF medications cycle the surrogate will receive a tentative date for when she is to return to the IVF clinic for her embryo transfer. The dates of this trip can change as it is based on how the surrogate’s body is responding to the IVF medications, so it’s important to have flexibility in terms of taking time off or planning to be away from children on short notice. It is strongly recommended the surrogate bring a travel companion for support during the medical process; however, this person does not have to be the PSP, although many surrogates choose to have their PSP present for this big milestone.
The embryo transfer trip will typically be about four or five days, but it could be as many as seven days. If the PSP is the surrogate’s spouse/partner, s/he may sometimes stay home to care for their children, while another friend or family member attends the embryo transfer with the gestational carrier.
Post Transfer and Pregnancy
A surrogate will attend many doctor appointments during the course of the surrogacy journey. Leading up to the embryo transfer – and following the actual transfer – the carrier will attend local monitoring appointments at a clinic local to where she lives. These appointments will monitor how she is responding to the medications; appointments after the transfer will include Beta tests to see if the embryo transfer was successful. The Primary Support Person may attend some of these appointments, but it is not required. This is a very emotional time during the surrogate’s journey, and she will need care and support from her PSP. There is a chance the embryo transfer will not be successful, and the PSP’s role of support will be needed most.
Throughout the pregnancy the PSP will provide ongoing emotional, physical and mental support to the gestational carrier. That can include attending doctor appointments, caring for children, providing meals, or giving a hug or a listening ear when she needs it.
Labor and Delivery
When it’s time for the big day, the surrogate will likely be able to have a support person with her in the delivery room; this is usually the Primary Support Person. Oftentimes, intended parents wish to be part of the labor and delivery if possible. The number of people present at the delivery can also depend on hospital policies.
"Do not let anyone take away the good you are doing for others.The intended parents are so grateful for you and what you are doing for them. It is truly a blessing." - A Circle Surrogate's Primary Support Person
Surrogates and intended parents can develop a very strong bond during the surrogacy journey. In many cases, Primary Support Persons can also become very close with intended parents, as they are sharing in this very intimate experience together.
Surrogate Support Person’s Role and Responsibilities
Throughout the journey, there will be lots of things both expected and unexpected that a surrogate and her PSP will have to participate in. At the end of the day, we want all primary support persons to be a supportive presence for the surrogates in our program, but we know that this means something different to every support person. Whether the PSP is there for every appointment or joins calls with intended parents once a month and plays more of a backseat role, your support is invaluable to the process and deeply appreciated by both Circle Surrogacy and intended parents.
A Primary Support Person should expect the below responsibilities in their role:
Communication. The PSP is encouraged to speak with intended parents as often as they like.
Traveling. Most clinics require PSPs to attend the medical screening (if it’s the surrogate’s partner) for testing.
Condoms and Abstinence for PSPs who are spouses/partners. Surrogates and PSPs are expected to engage in condom use at times in the journey, and will be asked to commit to at least two weeks of abstinence before and after an embryo transfer. More guidelines may be given by clinics.
Pregnancy. A PSP should be there for the gestational surrogate during her pregnancy to help in any way possible: making meals, childcare, or even a foot rub!
Delivery. Most PSPs are present in the delivery room during the surrogate delivery.
We are able to plan for many things in a surrogacy journey, however there may be things that pop up unexpectedly for a Primary Support Person.
Childcare. There may be times in the journey when a surrogate will be unable to partake in her typical responsibilities and expectations. This may require additional involvement on behalf of the PSP, and can be in the form of organizing childcare for children.
Medications and Injections. A gestational surrogate can expect to participate in injections and medications within the IVF cycle for up to 15 weeks. Often her support person will be the go-to to help her with the injections. It can be challenging to see your partner sore or uncomfortable from these medications. Please know, the discomfort is short-term and has no impact on her long-term health!
Time Commitment. While a surrogacy journey can initially sound like another 9-month pregnancy, the length of time to commit to this journey can last between one and two years.
FAQs from Primary Support
Q. Will I be paid lost wages when I’m traveling with the surrogate for her screening and embryo transfer?
A: Yes! Both the surrogate and her primary support person will be paid lost wages for time missed at work.
Q. Will the surrogate have insurance throughout the journey?
A: Yes! Circle Surrogacy ensures that each surrogate has proper health insurance in place to cover the surrogate pregnancy, as well as having a Life Insurance policy in place.
Q. How much time off from work will I need to take?
A: For PSPs attending the medical screening and the embryo transfer, the time off from work will vary, however, you will know ahead of time how much time you’ll need. The medical screening travel is relatively short (24-48 hours), while the embryo transfer can require 4-7 days total.
Q. Is it safe for my partner to be a surrogate?
A: In order for any gestational surrogate to be accepted into our program, she must first be medically pre-approved by an IVF doctor, who reviews her medical and pregnancy records. She will also need to provide a letter of clearance from her OB. Please know, that a surrogate’s health is our #1 priority.
Q. Can I speak with some at Circle before my partner applies?
A: Absolutely! We have experienced Primary Support Persons who are ready to share their amazing experiences of supporting their partners on surrogacy journeys.
Being a Primary Support Person to a gestational carrier is an exciting and important role. She will be relying on you for emotional and mental support throughout her journey. Primary Support Persons also have the opportunity to develop strong bonds with the intended parents whom the surrogate is helping.
If you or someone you know who is interested in learning more about becoming a surrogate at Circle Surrogacy, you can learn more about our program and the benefits on our Surrogates page. If you’ve already done your research and you’re feeling ready to apply, you can fill out an application today!