What Movies Get Wrong About Being a Surrogate…

Have you ever googled: ‘movies about surrogacy’? Some of the first movies to come up include:

  • Surrogates
  • Together Together
  • A Deadly Adoption
  • When The Bough Breaks
  • I AM
  • Secretly and Stealthily
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Baby Mama
  • The Surrogate (2020)
  • The Surrogate (2013) 
  • A Surrogate’s Nightmare

Most of these movies look like they belong under the ‘horror’ category on Netflix or Hulu. So, what do these movies get wrong about being a surrogate? Let’s start off with: 

Misconception #1: Surrogacy is more often than not … a horror story. WRONG!

While there are risks involved in the surrogacy journey, movies made about the risks of surrogacy are often so far-fetched and disconnected from reality that they can’t be taken seriously. 

Horrific stories portrayed in movies like A Deadly Adoption, When the Bough Breaks, Secretly and Stealthily, A Surrogate’s Nightmare, and The Handmaid’s Tale do not depict the reality of what it’s like to be a surrogate. The purpose of these films is NOT to educate the audience on what it’s like to be a surrogate mother. The point of these movies and T.V. shows are to entertain or maybe criticize society (in The Handmaid’s case). More often than not, people are afraid of what they don’t know or understand. And, clearly, more often than not people have no idea what a day in the life of a surrogate mom or spouse is truly like.

To learn about what it is really like to be a surrogate, check out the links below to listen to real-life surrogacy journeys put together for you by Surrogacy Is:

  • Ask the intended parents of a surrogate:

Misconception #2: Surrogate mothers are liars, criminals and irresponsible. WRONG!

Have you seen Baby Mama? It’s not a horror, but a comedy. SNL’s Tina Fey plays the intended mother and Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler plays the surrogate mom. Tina Fey’s character is portrayed as responsible and has her life together. The opening scene is a narration of how she (the intended mother) ended up needing a surrogate in the first place; basically, she chose a promotion over parenting. Although her reason for needing a surrogate is realistic, how she chooses a surrogate and her relationship between her and the surrogate mom is very unrealistic, most likely to make the movie funny—it’s not. It instead paints surrogacy as risky and ridiculous. 

Amy Poehler plays the gestational surrogate mother. Her personality and way of living is shown as deceitful, reckless, and irresponsible. The entire movie is about how she fakes being a surrogate, so she and her boyfriend can run away after receiving the compensation.  She even pretends to go through IVF and the embryo transfer process with the intended mother, and then eats tons of junk food to appear pregnant. At one point, she has to move in with the intended parent because she leaves her boyfriend and has no place to go. All the while, Fey’s character is doing everything she can to take care of this woman whom she believes is carrying her baby. This tall-tale of the surrogacy journey mocks the sacrifice and true commitment of a surrogate mother. It paints her as a liar and a thief. It also puts fear into those couples and partners hoping to make their own family with the help of a surrogate. 

Although Poehler’s character is pretending to be pregnant, she depicts surrogate mothers as irresponsible. At one point, she and the intended mother-to-be end up in a nightclub together. Here, she has to be forced to stop putting the unborn child in danger from smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Her behavior is clearly outlandish for humor and shock value in the movie, but the fact that the intended parent is believing that her surrogate is willing to drink and smoke without freaking out about it proves just how little the movie is meant to be taken seriously when it comes to showing what it’s really like to be a surrogate. 

Most traditional or gestational surrogate mothers are incredible, hard working, and strong women. They are not in desperate situations, criminals, or liars. In fact, in almost all cases, if someone wants to become a surrogate, they need to prove they are fit mentally, emotionally, and physically to go through the process. 

Not only that, surrogates take so much pride in being able to give the gift of carrying a child to another family. It is not a joke to them. They have honor and integrity in carrying a baby for someone else. Surrogates have a deep understanding of what it means to be a parent and loving a child because they are already parents themselves. There is so much trust, compassion, and joy in the life of those who have actually gone through the surrogacy journey. 

Misconception #3: Being a surrogate means I could end up stuck with a new baby. WRONG!

A more recent movie about surrogacy released in 2020 is called The Surrogate. It presents a rare example of what happens when a surrogate is carrying a child for intended parents, but the fetus tests positive for having down syndrome. Ultimately, the gay couple hoping to add to their family through surrogacy decides they no longer want to go through with the pregnancy and ask the surrogate mother to have an abortion. The surrogate mom struggles with their decision and considers having the baby and raising her herself. However, she has no support from her own family nor the intended parents. 

This is an extreme case of what could happen while being surrogate. In most cases, there are precautions put in place, like a pre-birth order in the legal contract with at least two next of kin lined up, to ensure there is someone to take care of the baby if the parents were to (for example) die in a plane crash on the way to birth. Even in utero, the intended parents are still the parents. The surrogate mother has no rights or responsibilities to the child. However, she does have autonomy over her own body. When surrogacy is done right, the intended parents and the surrogate discuss ‘what if’ scenarios in-depth prior to the matching and contract stages. Each party’s view on things, like termination for various medical reasons, needs to be in sync. When a surrogate and the intended parents are not on the same page, especially about termination decisions, they cannot move forward, preventing situations like the one shown in The Surrogate

Advocates and professionals at Surrogacy Is help put surrogates and their partners at ease about the concerns of surrogacy by ensuring they are prepared and going through the process with an agency that takes great care in protecting the rights of surrogates. 

What makes their situation in the movie more difficult and less realistic is how they go about the process. Although the story starts off portraying surrogacy as a wonderful experience between three best friends (two men hoping to be dads through surrogacy and their surrogate mom), they make their journey significantly tougher by using a “gentlemen’s agreement” that outlines the expectations of the surrogacy rather than a legal contract. Even though they each also use their own lawyers, their choice of an agreement over a legal contract creates complications for all parties involved when there are complications with the pregnancy and disagreement on how to proceed with the surrogacy. 

video on surrogacy and termination
Sunshine helps you get the right information when movies about surrogacy get it wrong.

If anything, this movie is a good example of why it is important to connect with surrogacy professionals before beginning your own surrogate plans. Surrogacy Is connects you with agencies and resources that will keep the surrogate safe and supported. 

Misconception #4: Being compensated for surrogacy in New York is Illegal. WRONG!

Another way the movie The Surrogate (2020) proves that it is outdated is the fact that the surrogate mom is doing this without compensation. In the film, it says that in the state of New York, it is illegal to accept compensation for being a surrogate. This is now wrong. As of February 2021, being compensated for surrogacy is legal (Circle Surrogacy). 

No matter where you are, we can help! There are different laws and requirements for being a surrogate in every state. However, Surrogacy Is is an organization that supports surrogates from coast-to-coast with everything they need to know for their state. Click here to complete our short quiz to see if you qualify for surrogacy, today. 

 

For movies and books that do get surrogacy right, click here to see suggestions from AmericanSurrogacy.com.

 

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"However motherhood comes to you, it's a miracle."

-Valerie Harper