Methods: 7 surrogates and 13 children between the ages of 7–17 participated in this study. Surrogate mothers filled out questionnaires that assessed their perception of their children’s experiences. Children filled out several measures of psychological well-being including the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Piers–Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, Second Edition (Piers–Harris 2). Children also filled out questionnaires including open-ended survey questions about their thoughts and feelings about having a mother who served as a surrogate.
Results: Scores on the SDQ revealed profiles that were within normal limits with all the children falling into the low-risk category for developing emotional disorders, behavioral disorders, or hyperactivity/concentration problems. Total scores on the Piers–Harris 2 fell within the Average (64%) range while the remaining 38% approached or exceeded the very high range of scores indicating positive self-appraisal across multiple domains. According to the surrogates, the majority of children (61%) had a positive response to their mother’s surrogate pregnancy with only 1 child being identified as having had a negative response. Mothers identified the majority of children (75%) as having been positively impacted by their mother’s surrogacy experience. However, 38% of the children reported experiencing negative emotion with regards to their mother’s surrogacy and 23% of the children reported negative feelings about the relinquishment of the child to another couple.
Conclusion: The findings of this study show that while psychological well-being as assessed by standardized measures appears intact, there may be a subset of children who experience negative emotion about their mother serving as a surrogate. It is important to understand more about the children of surrogates and the impact that their mother’s surrogate pregnancy has on them. Understanding factors that might impact which children are more vulnerable to experiencing negative emotion to their mother’s surrogate pregnancy is critical to help guide mental health professionals who screen and counsel surrogates.