As a surrogate, carrying a baby for someone else is a wonderful and exciting journey. But what if the intended parents live in another country? And what if they speak a different language?
Today, international surrogacy is becoming more and more popular, especially in the United States. Here, the surrogacy process is carefully regulated, which makes it very appealing for international parents. Surrogacy is also open to everyone, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, or relationship status.
Family Source Consultants has been matching surrogates and intended parents for more than 14 years. We love seeing the relationships develop between families, no matter how far apart they may be in the world. And we’re always on hand to help make the journey smoother.
Communicating across language barriers and time zones
One of the questions many surrogates-to-be have is in regards to communication. Since FSC is a global surrogacy agency, we have many intended parents who speak another language and may have limited English, which can cause potential surrogates to question how they would understand one another throughout the journey. Fortunately, this is rarely an issue! Surrogates who’ve matched with international intended parents say that technology has made communication a breeze, despite any differences in language!
Here are some ways surrogates and intended parents can communicate:
Written communication is by far the easiest way to keep in touch. It’s especially helpful when you live in a different time zone from your IPs. Email allows you to express yourself in your own words and at your own pace. It also means you can read and respond when it’s convenient for you. You can both share information, photos (like sonograms!), and other documents with a single click.
WhatsApp and WeChat
WhatsApp is a free, multi-platform messaging app used all over the world. In fact, it’s available in 180 countries! It’s even more popular than Facebook Messenger and WeChat.
WhatsApp allows you to send text messages, make voice calls and video calls, and share photos or clips. There are no fees or subscriptions because it uses your own wifi connection.
WhatsApp is perfect for people who are chatting across different time zones because it allows free worldwide messaging. The app can be used on both your phone and on your computer or laptop. Best of all, it’s available in over 40 languages on iPhone and up to 60 on Android!
Similar to WhatsApp, WeChat is a multi-purpose messaging and social media app. It’s one of the world’s largest mobile apps and the most popular messaging platform in China. WeChat offers text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast messaging, video conferencing, photo and video sharing. It’s is also available in the US and can be a useful way to keep in touch with your IPs if they reside in China.
Quick tip: At FSC, we usually recommend WhatsApp as the best way for everyone to keep in touch. It’s quick and easy, and almost everyone around the world can access it. It also means you can respond to one another’s messages at a time that suits you.
We often encourage our IPs and surrogates to schedule regular video calls throughout the journey. It helps to foster a strong relationship with one another, no matter how far apart you are.
Video calling, like Facetime, Skype, or Zoom, has many advantages over standard phone calls. For a start, video calling is much more engaging than audio calls because each of you can see one another. Facial expressions are a powerful thing. Research has shown that we process visual information more quickly and accurately than audio, so you’ll connect with one another more effectively. It’s the next best thing to meeting your IPs in person. You can even video chat during your clinic appointments so that your IPs can feel like they’re in the room.
And don’t forget that your IPs will be thrilled to see your ever-growing baby bump!
In some cases, surrogates choose to work with international IPs who speak only limited English or even no English at all. With the help of an online translation app, you can still communicate effectively! And while online translators are no match for ‘real life’ human translators, they’re much easier to access when you need them. Online translators are also perfect for deciphering a short text message or email instantly.
- Google Translate is a free online service that allows you to translate text in over 100 other languages instantly. You can type a message in English and the receiver will get a translated version on their side. Translations can also be read to you in audio. Google Translate is available as an app on mobile or desktop.
- Deepl is a newer translation service that offers both free and paid options. The free option provides a similar service to Google Translate, while the paid plan allows unlimited text per translation, plus customization.
Family Source Consultants will provide you with a professional human translator for your initial match meeting if requested. Some intended parents would like a translator available for other items and may retain the services of a professional translator throughout the journey. When it comes time for delivery, most hospitals provide professional translation services at no cost.
Schedule time to talk
When you meet your IPs, one of the first things to figure out is how you’ll keep in touch. While it may seem a little awkward at first, there’s every reason for you and your international IPs to form a strong bond. It’s just a matter of establishing which forms of communication work best for everyone involved.
Scheduling a weekly or bi-weekly call from the start can make life a lot easier. Be sure to figure out how your IP’s time zone matches up with yours, then you can both decide what days and times are best to make contact.
Lastly, it’s important to note that it takes time to bond with one another – especially across different cultures and languages. Be patient and allow yourselves to get to know each other. The surrogacy process can feel like a strange time for everyone when you’re first starting out!
The good news is that many of our surrogates and IPs develop lifelong friendships, no matter how different their lives may be. And remember, your FSC case manager will be there to guide you through every step of the way!