Study question: What impact does surrogacy have on the surrogates' own children?
Summary answer: The children of surrogate mothers do not experience any negative consequences as a result of their mother's decision to be a surrogate, irrespective of whether or not the surrogate uses her own egg.
Study design, size and duration: Participants were recruited as part of a study of the long-term effects of surrogacy for surrogates and their family members. Data were collected from 36 children of surrogates at a single time point.
Participants/materials, setting, methods: Participants whose mother had been a surrogate 5-15 years prior to interview and who were aged over 12 years were eligible to take part. Thirty-six participants (14 male and 22 female) aged 12-25 years were interviewed (response rate = 52%). Questionnaires assessing psychological health and family functioning were administered.
Main results and the role of chance: Forty-four per cent (15) of participants' mothers had undergone gestational surrogacy, 39% (14) had used their own egg (genetic surrogacy) and 19% (7) had completed both types of surrogacy. Most surrogates' children (86%, 31) had a positive view of their mother's surrogacy. Forty-seven per cent (17) of children were in contact with the surrogacy child and all reported good relationships with him/her. Forty per cent (14) of children referred to the child as a sibling or half-sibling and this did not differ between genetic and gestational surrogacy. Most children (89%, 32), reported a positive view of family life, with all enjoying spending time with their mother. Mean scores on the questionnaire assessments of psychological health and self-esteem were within the normal range and did not differ by surrogacy type.
Limitations, reasons for caution: The sample size for this study was relatively small and not all children chose to take part, therefore their views cannot be known. Nevertheless, this is the first study to assess the experiences of surrogacy from the perspective of the surrogates' own children. There may be some bias from the inclusion of siblings from the same family.
Wider implications of the findings: Findings of this study show that family relationships within the surrogate's own family are good and that the children are not negatively affected as a result of their mother's decision to be a surrogate. These results are of importance to counsellors and support groups offering advice to surrogates and intended parents.
Study funding, competing interests: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/I009221/1). None of the authors has any conflict of interest to declare.
Keywords: children; surrogacy; surrogate mothers; surrogates' family.