A study by the Family and Child Psychology Research Centre at City University London in 2002 concluded that surrogate mothers rarely had difficulty relinquishing rights to a surrogate child and that the intended mothers showed greater warmth to the child than mothers conceiving naturally.
Anthropological studies of surrogates have shown that surrogates engage in various distancing techniques throughout the surrogate pregnancy so as to ensure that they do not become emotionally attached to the baby. Many surrogates intentionally try to foster the development of emotional attachment between the intended mother and the surrogate child.
Surrogates who work with an agency are generally counseled by the agency to become emotionally detached from the fetus prior to giving birth.
Most surrogates describe feeling empowered by the experience.
Although surrogate mothers generally report being satisfied with their experience as surrogates, there are cases in which they are not. Unmet expectations are associated with dissatisfaction. Some women did not feel a certain level of closeness with the couple and others did not feel respected by the couple.
Some women experience emotional distress as a surrogate mother. There may be a lack of access to therapy and emotional support through the surrogate process.
Some surrogate mothers have reactions that include depression when surrendering the child, grief, and even refusal to release the child.
A 2011 study from the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge found that surrogacy does not have a negative impact on the surrogate’s own children.
Child and parents
A study has followed a cohort of 32 surrogacy, 32 egg donation, and 54 natural conception families through to age seven, reporting the impact of surrogacy on the families and children at ages one, two, and seven. At age one, parents through surrogacy showed greater psychological well-being and adaptation to parenthood than those who conceived naturally; there were no differences in infant temperament. At age two, parents through surrogacy showed more positive mother–child relationships and less parenting stress on the part of fathers than their natural conception counterparts; there were no differences in child development between these two groups. At age seven, the surrogacy and egg donation families showed less positive mother–child interaction than the natural conception families, but there were no differences in maternal positive or negative attitudes or child adjustment. The researchers concluded that the surrogacy families continued to function well.