With the increasing number of children born through surrogacy, experts have wondered if the process will affect them psychologically or developmentally in the short or long-term. Could the circumstances of their birth influence the parents’ thoughts, feelings or behavior negatively, especially if they don’t have a genetic connection? Would it harm the child’s identity and psychological well-being? How do children born through surrogacy compare emotionally to children who are adopted?
Intended parents (IPs) who are hoping to use surrogacy might have questions and concerns about these effects. They may wonder if the children will struggle to cope with the idea that a woman other than their mother carried them and that could make them more likely to display behavioral and emotional problems. IPs also could be troubled that their relationship could be less close because of the absence of a biological link between mother and child and the potential for a less positive mother-child interaction.
However, studies have demonstrated that parents of a child born via either gestational or traditional surrogacy do not exhibit different behaviors or emotions than parents who have children without assistance.
Positive mother-child relationships characterize surrogacy families. Mothers of children born through surrogacy displayed greater warmth and enjoyment of their children at age one compared to mothers who had children through natural conception. Professionals attribute the differences to the longing and hardships intended mothers endured on their surrogacy journey. These parents waited a long time before bringing home a child, resulting in a stronger bond between them.
Another reason that surrogate child families have a more positive parent-child relationship than adoptive families is that surrogate-children know their origins. One study focused on open adoption arrangements where there was contact between the adoptive family and the birth family (which may range from occasional letters to face-to-face contact). It is essential for children to be given developmentally appropriate information about their adoption and to feel free to discuss issues relating to it with their adoptive parents.
Similarly, a study of lesbian and gay adoptive or surrogacy families found no differences in parenting or child adjustment because of parental sexual orientation.
Finally, in a long-term study, researchers found no differences for maternal negativity, maternal positivity or child adjustment. The findings suggest that both surrogacy and egg donation families and adoptive families function well in the early school years.
Every family and child is different, so it is difficult to standardize a behavior by family building method. Many variables affect child development, but a loving and nurturing home is the best environment for every child’s development, regardless of the origin of his or her birth.