Acting as a surrogate does not negatively affect the psychological well being of the surrogate’s own children, according to a new study from the Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge. In one of the first investigations of its kind, researchers explored the experiences and psychological health of children whose mothers had acted as a surrogate for another couple.
Sixteen children took part in the study – seven boys and nine girls aged between 12 and 22 years old. Researchers visited the children at home and assessed their well being by conducting interviews and asking the children to complete questionnaires. ‘There have been concerns raised in the past about the effect of surrogacy on a surrogate’s own children’, said Susan Imrie, one of the researchers on the project. ‘Surrogacy is a relatively rare procedure and there are very few scientific studies on the long-term effects of this, particularly on the surrogate and her family’. ‘So far, all children interviewed have a positive view of surrogacy and their mother’s involvement’, she added.
Ten children told the researchers they were in contact with the surrogate child, and felt that they had a good relationship with them. Twelve openly discussed surrogacy with their friends and reported receiving generally positive reactions. Psychological health questionnaires indicated that most of the children were within the normal range for self-esteem.
The data was presented at the British Fertility Society’s annual meeting. The research included children of both genetic surrogates, where the surrogate is also the biological mother of the child and donates an egg (which is usually fertilised by artificial insemination), and gestational surrogates, where an embryo created using gametes taken from the intended parents is implanted into the surrogate. There were no differences between the findings of the psychological health questionnaires completed by children of genetic or gestational surrogates.
‘The results we present here are only preliminary findings and form part of a larger ongoing study into the experiences and psychological health of surrogate mothers and their families’, said Imrie. ‘Our initial results indicate that the children of mothers who have carried a surrogate baby for another couple do not face negative consequences as a result of this’.