interviewing while pregnant — but I’m not the mother

A reader writes:

I’m currently employed, though attempting to change careers. I have a few great job interviews set up for positions I would love to have. My only hiccup in the interview process is that I’m four months pregnant, but the baby isn’t mine. I am a gestational carrier for a lovely family who just needed a little extra help to bring their child into the world.

That being said, I will not be having a baby come home from the hospital with me, nor will I have late night feedings, the need for a room to pump in, nor maternity leave. I’m expecting to just need to take a few days off for the delivery and a small amount of recovery, and then be right back in action.

I know I am in a very unique position. This is my third pregnancy and I’m already showing, and I’m at a loss as to how to broach this topic with a potential employer (or not to at all). I don’t want to turn off a potential employer since I am pregnant, but I also don’t want to not mention it and therefore ruin the groundwork of a trusted employer/employee relationship.

Are you showing to the point that you can’t hide it with business clothes?

If so, I’d mention it. Otherwise, you run the risk of them either consciously or unconsciously letting the pregnancy negatively affect your chances, since they’ll be calculating that you’ll be out for a few months not all that long after you start. At some employers, that’s not an issue at all, whereas for others it could indeed be a deal-breaker, or at least a deal-weakener. (And no, that’s not legal — or at least it’s not legal if they have 15 or more employees and thus are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but it’s pretty common.)

If they’re going to realize you’re pregnant whether you mention it or not, I’d fill them in on the rest of the situation so that you’re not at risk of that kind of bias. You can bring it up by saying something like, “I should mention the elephant in the room,” and then explain the situation.

You don’t want your underlying message here to be “Unlike all those other pregnant women who you might be afraid to hire, I’m going to be right back at work.” That’s bad for other women, and it’s potentially insulting to your interviewer. Rather, the gist of your message should be “I realize a piece of this situation is clearly visible and I want to fill you in on how it will impact my schedule.”

Some people will be a little uncomfortable that you brought it up at all, but I think that’s outweighed by the benefits of raising it.

That said, there’s plenty of room for disagreement on this, and I think a reasonable argument can be made for not raising it at all … so it probably comes down to what you’re most comfortable with.

Also, what an amazing thing you’re doing.

{ 121 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous

    I agree with Alison. Being a gestational carrier is a wonderful thing. And I definitely think you should mention it, even if you weren’t showing. At four months pregnant, you only have so long to go until you’re clearly pregnant (for most women, anyway), and I think employers would consider it a bit disingenuous to not mention it, only to be obviously pregnant two-3 months later.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      I agree that it may look disingenuous not to mention it. It’s not like the OP can claim that the surrogacy was a surprise she didn’t know about.

      1. Joe

        I disagree very strongly. Would you think it disingenuous not to mention if she were an Orthodox Jew, and knew she was going to need to take off (as vacation days) certain holidays? Pregnancy, like religion, is illegal to consider in hiring decisions (as Alison pointed out), so the employer does not have the right to have that information as part of their decision. Since a lot of people (including some commenters below) are going to use that information even though they’re not allowed to, I think it is more than reasonable to avoid disclosing it if possible.

    2. Ruffingit

      Agreed and there does need to be some planning here on the part of the employer. Sure, you may not take 12 weeks of maternity leave, but if you need to have a c-section for example or God forbid something else goes horribly wrong with the delivery and you need to be out for awhile, they are going to need to know that. Pregnancy and childbirth are unpredictable in a lot of ways so not fessing up to the fact that you will be taking at least some time off (few days to a few weeks depending) is fair and necessary in my view.

    3. Elizabeth

      I think it would be disingenuous not to mention it at all, but if the OP wasn’t showing I’d consider it reasonable for her to wait until the offer stage rather than the interview.

      1. Anonymous

        Oh, absolutely. I don’t see anything wrong with not raising it during the interview. I consider this situation to be similar to raising the issue of a pre-planned vacation – you may not need to discuss it during the interview and potentially shoot yourself in the foot, but it would be weirdly evasive to not bring it up in the offer stage.

        1. hamster

          I did ask for a pre planned wedding honeymoon at interview stage :) . I figured i sure as hell not postponing my wedding for a job! I felt a bit awkward , but it was no big deal

  2. Wilton Businessman

    Hmm…

    When I give you the offer I would expect you to say, “Oh, BTW I will need two weeks off for a pre-planned vacation” just as I would expect you to say “Oh, BTW I will need two weeks off to recover from a pregnancy. I am a carrying a baby for another couple and my commitment ends when the watermelon is served.”

    But you’re in a little different situation considering you’re showing. Whether we like to believe it or not, that may have an affect on you getting hired. If so, it’s probably best to get it out in the open.

    1. A Bug!

      Agreed. It’s good to recognize that there are some people who would illegally factor a pregnancy into their hiring decision. It’s not a good thing that it happens, and some people might say you don’t want to work for an employer who does that, but the reality is that you need a job, and hurting your chances on principle would be, well, silly.

      They’re going to need to know your availability regardless of whether they’d illegally discriminate. You might as well mention your circumstances, because if you’re showing, assumptions will be made, and they will be wrong.

      1. Lisa

        My teacher friends (female only) were told to not were any rings to job interviews when they graduated, because schools do not like hiring women that could be pregnant in a few years. Not sure if that is legal since you are not pregnant, but then its a gender thing tho a gender / specific age range that are being discriminated against.

          1. some1

            I would argue that the wedding ring doesn’t even matter, given that it’s way more socially acceptable for single women to choose to have babies nowadays.

        1. Joey

          Told by whom? If the source is teacher friends or school counselors that might well be speculation. If its from a company representative highly problematic.

        2. Sarah

          This is very true in academia. I had a friend interviewing for PhD programs, and an interview was going very well until she moved and her wedding band showed. The interviewer totally changed, and she could feel that it was directly related to the realization that she is married (meaning there is a possibility of a planned or unplanned pregnancy). PhD programs are a long commitment and many professors can see how a marriage and/or pregnancy can derail it. But usually the PhD program derails marriages (just look at the divorce rates)!

          1. Jen M

            It’s kind of funny to hear someone say that- I wouldn’t be at all surprised that this happens, but I’m in a PhD program working for a professor who had her first baby within the first two years of her graduate degree, and it didn’t derail her at all. On the other hand, many people drop out of the program just due to the realization that a PhD isn’t what they thought it would be. Just goes to show how silly this kind of discrimination can be :)

  3. PoohBear McGriddles

    If you’re starting to show, it will probably lighten the mood of the interview to go ahead and bring it up. It would certainly be the elephant in the room, since no one wants to ask about a pregnancy only to be told “I’m not pregnant”.
    Maybe you could say something like “I was honored to be asked to be a surrogate by my friends. They’ll make such great parents,” then turn the focus back to the job.

  4. Joey

    Hmm makes me wonder if people will have a problem with your choice if they know details or if they’ll think you’re clueless if you just speak to time off needed.

      1. Ruffingit

        Had this thought as well. Shouldn’t be, but some people do look down on this thinking the woman is basically hiring our her body for cash. That is not at all the case, but there is a lot of misunderstanding around surrogacy.

      2. fposte

        I think that’s possible, but I’m not sure what the alternative would be short of some really horrible lying. And this really may be a situation where the OP is better off knowing in advance if people are going to hold something like this against her.

        My guess is that the OP will be pretty experienced with unsolicited feedback about her plan, and that by her third pregnancy she’s probably pretty inured to unsolicited feedback in general :-).

        1. Joey

          That could be said for any pregnancy. If she wants to know up front then why consider hiding it in the first place?

          Is it really necessary or even a good idea to tell them they should believe her because its her third pregnancy?

          If I were interviewing her Id think a long story about when, why and providing context would be weird and tmi. On the other hand I know there are certainly advantages to talking about it that Alison noted. I think this will be in the end a decision she has to make in the moment based on her reading of her interviewer. For me the dilemma isn’t whether she says anything at all its how many details to share.

          1. fposte

            The problem is that if she’s unequivocally showing the cat is already out of the bag (to add to the metaphors here). I agree that she doesn’t want to launch into a long story about her decision and her best friend from college’s pregnancy issues and her general love of being pregnant (except for the cheese, she really misses the cheese), etc., etc. But I’m not sure you can read an interviewer well enough to know whether you’d be more at risk if they assumed pregnancy meant you’d be seeking a four-month leave or if they knew you were a surrogate. One possibility is for her to say simply that this is her third pregnancy and she expects a recovery that will put her back at work in three weeks–that would make it clear that she wasn’t underguessing because she hadn’t done it before.

            But this is also different from the usual pregnancy dilemma, because most employers who are concerned about hiring a pregnant employee are worried about the time out, not about the ideology of the pregnancy; once the woman’s past her leave her having been pregnant is no longer an issue. But if the OP is working for people for whom her surrogacy is an issue, that’s not going to stop when she delivers, and since her workplace is going to know about the surrogacy once she’s hired there’s something to be said for finding out in advance if it would make her a pariah.

            1. Joey

              Why would they have to know she’s a surrogate? I’ve seen people go on maternity leave, come back, and I have no idea if they kept the baby unless the baby is added to benefits. But plenty don’t add.

              Personally I think its better to not mention the surrogacy at all.

              1. Cat

                Well, first of all, I don’t know how you could not mention this eventually to anyone you’re going to be working closely with. HR, fine. But your actual co-workers? They’re going to be asking for updates and pictures; commiserating about the lack of sleep; and possibly getting you cards and gifts. You can’t just pretend you have a phantom third child at home who will, coincidentally, never come to the company picnic for your entire tenure. And the longer it goes on, the more awkward it’s going to get.

                In the interview situation (or offer stage), the reason to mention it is this: if you say “I’m pregnant, but I plan to come back to work after a few days off to physically recover,” there is a high likelihood that the person is going to do one of two things. First, they might think to themselves “yeah, right, I’ll believe that when I see it;” it’s outside the ordinary enough to create a veneer of weirdness to add to the whole thing. Second, they might – and if they’re decent people, will – say “Good lord, you’re not required to do that; we can work out leave without pay/prorated maternity leave for the time you’ve been here/something.” Then you’re back to the first situation.

                You might be judged for explaining the surrogacy thing but the chances of that honestly seem lower to me than the weirdness you’re likely to inject into the interview if you don’t.

                1. Ethyl

                  Yeah my immediate thought was that she will want to tell them about the surrogacy to avoid a potentially incredibly awkward office baby shower!

                2. Cat

                  But be that as it may, it’s still better than pretending you have a baby you don’t have. You can’t eliminate every risk in life that people will judge you.

                3. Joey

                  By the way I think the appropriate time to mentio. The surrogacy is after an offer is received. At that point its much easier to prove its being held against you.

                4. KLH

                  If they have a problem with it, it’s a sign to the LW that her values might not match up with her office mates’ and she should take that into consideration.

                5. fposte

                  That’s my thought. And it’s going to be even more marked since she’s a new employee and people won’t know much more about her than “she’s the one who’s having the baby!” There’s a real risk that people will assume something tragic happened if there’s no followup, which is a problematic misconception, especially if somebody finds out later it is a misconception.

                6. fposte

                  Sorry, the above was to Cat. And Joey, I agree that there are some bosses who might have a problem with surrogacy, but that was my point about it being different than pregnancy–she will still have been a surrogate when she’s hired, and that kind of boss is still going to hold it against her unless she’s really duplicitous about what happened. Which doesn’t seem ethical or the OP’s style.

    1. Jess

      If she’s showing enough that the pregnancy has to be mentioned at the interview stage, providing the context is probably the best path to take. There’s certainly still risk involved in bringing up the surrogacy, but you really can’t say you only need a few days of a maternity leave [if you want anyone to believe you] if you don’t let them know why that truly would be the case. And I think there’s a much bigger risk in letting them think that you’d be on maternity leave immediately after starting.

      Plus, I think the biggest risk of bringing up the surrogacy is probably just the interviewer’s initial surprise due to its out-of-the-ordinariness, not the few people out there who might have an issue w/ it on principle.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.

        I agree. The vast majority of even very conservative people I know would have no problems with a surrogacy. So it makes more sense to say “I wouldn’t want to work for those people anyway” in that case than it does to say “I don’t want to work for anyone that would consciously or unconsciously discriminate against me for being pregnant” because the latter number will be much, much higher.

        1. fposte

          Google around and you’ll find some discussion, not simply religious, either.

          Here’s a link to an older piece that identifies some of the concerns in the days when surrogacy was first getting established: http://moses.creighton.edu/kripke/news/S92-1.html. While I think people are more accustomed to surrogacy now than then, a lot of the same concerns still exist, and a lot of people formed their opinion of surrogacy in the time that these concerns were foregrounded.

        2. Anony

          I have a major problem with surrogacy because it doesn’t take into account the child/eventual adult’s well-being whatsoever. Babies are literally bonded to their mothers (or whoever’s uterus they were in) from before birth. They know her heartbeat, smell, voice, and babies expect and need to have it post-birth. They use her to regulate their own body temperature and heartrate, and it is a trauma to be taken away from your mother. Being separated from mother is a serious physiological trauma for babies. And, no, substitutes are not just the same. Sometimes substitutes are necessary, obviously, but something like this should never be intentionally brought about.

          It’s also disturbing to split a person’s mother into two separate people like that, DNA from one and carrying/birth (and also a little dna, too, since maternal and fetal cells cross the placental barrier), which is why many other countries have banned gestational surrogacy. At the very least, though, the birth certificate should list everyone involved in the child/eventual adult being born and it doesn’t.

          The kicker is that no one sees it as a trauma; you’re just expected to get over it and be grateful for being a wonderful “gift”.

          1. Anon with a name

            From the child’s POV, what’s the difference between being carried by a surrogate and then living with their parents instead of her, and being carried by their birth mother and then given up for adoption and living with that family? They’re still not around the person who carried them, but I hope you’re not saying you’re against adoption, are you?

          2. ellex42

            More people need to adopt, because there are so many children out there that desperately need caring and loving parents. But adoption can be a real crapshoot, both for the child and for the adoptive parents. The great thing about surrogacy is that the adoptive parents can also sometimes be the biological parents, and have more information regarding the health and well-being of the surrogate.

            I really can’t see the difference between straight-up adoption and surrogacy. Like “anon with a name”, I hope you’re not saying you’re against adoption, because I’ve seen first-hand what happens when children are left with biological parents who can’t or won’t care for them. That’s a much bigger guarantee of a life-long lack of well-being for the child than speculation about the “trauma” of separating a child from their birth mother. Plenty of adopted children grow up happy, healthy and well-adjusted.

          3. OP

            The state I live in (and will be delivering in) is considered pro-surrogacy. I have to have their baby in this state and as soon as I do, the baby automatically has their name and has nothing to do with me. There is no adoption process because legally I have no rights to this child. It’s actually really interesting how much of this whole process has been written into the laws of the state and how great it is. Now, if I happen to travel out of state and had to deliver, the child would have my last name and the IPs would have to adopt him from me.

            I guess a lot of it is theoretical about the ramifications to the child, but I do know this — I would not have entered into this agreement unless I knew that the IPs were a wonderful, loving couple who will provide a warm, loving, and safe home for this child. If that was ever in doubt, we would not have moved on from square one.

            And also for further clarification — I am not any sort of donor in this situation. Just the “holder”. This is a husband and wife’s genetic child in every respect.

          4. aebhel

            That argument kind of implies that adoption is an unrecoverable trauma as well, which is something that no few of the adoptees I know would take issue with.

            There are any number of ways that a planned birth can potentially go wrong, including things that birth parents know about in advance. My husband is a twin, for example. He’s a twin because his mother was on fertility medication to become pregnant, which frequently results in multiple pregnancies. Multiple pregnancies are by definition high-risk, and indeed he and his sister were born two months prematurely. If you asked him whether he resents his parents for their decision to use fertility treatment, though, I suspect he’d look at you like you’d grown a second head.

            Also, ‘disturbing’ is your personal opinion, and is not a sufficient basis for policy decisions.

            That being said, I believe most of the people who object to surrogacy do so on religious grounds.

    2. Anonymous

      I wouldn’t mention the surrogacy if the place of business had any religious affiliations, especially catholic. There have been a few cases that hit the news of Catholic run schools firing women who have used any kind of fertility treatments (but they don’t fire the male partners of those same women) and I haven’t heard of a successful case against those places.

    1. Leigh

      This made me laugh too–I think most pregnant women feel like elephants at least once during their pregnancy! I know I did…

  5. Cruella Da Boss

    I hate to break it to you, but have you filled in your doctor with the “just taking a few days off for the delivery” plan? Whether you keep the baby or not, you’ve still given birth to one.

    There is a reason that most maternity leave is at least six weeks. It has nothing to do with the baby. That is the time the medical community has decided is sufficient enough to have recovered from this event.

    Something to think about.

    1. fposte

      As we’ve discussed before, a lot of people come back to work much earlier than six weeks, and since the OP has already had babies, she should know what her recovery is likely to be.

      1. Anonymous

        And this is someone who has had two other pregnancies, so she probably knows how she will handle the birth.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      It’s her third pregnancy. Sure, each is different, but she should has a general idea of how long her recovery will probably be, based on the first two. I’m pretty sure this is something she’s already thought about, and thought about before taking this on.

    3. Ruffingit

      True and I do think she needs to be considering that she may be out for awhile as I posted above. However, this is also her third pregnancy so she probably has a good idea at this point what her personal recovery time has been.

    4. JoAnna

      Mother of five here. The six week period has a lot to do with bonding with the baby — it takes at least that long to establish a successful breastfeeding relationship, and most daycares won’t accept children younger than six weeks (and some not until eight weeks or until the baby has had his or her vaccinations).

      So, those things factor into the six-week leave – it’s not all due to physical recovery.

      A C-section is a different matter altogether – women are not allowed to drive or lift over a certain amount of weight for at least six weeks, so if OP has a C-section she may indeed be out for that period of time, and any potential employers should be aware of that.

      1. Jamie

        Absolutely. A lot of that six weeks is due to bonding and getting nursing started successfully, etc. – not about medical recovery.

        I’ve had 3 kids (no c-sections) and there would have been no reason for me to be home 6 weeks if I wasn’t raising the baby and had a job to get back to.

        Everyone is different, of course, and some need a longer recovery than others…but the 6 weeks recommended for maternity leave covers much more than physical recovery.

        I can see an uncomplicated delivery being off less than a week, if she has a desk job with no heavy lifting.

        1. tesyaa

          Six weeks is covered by disability. If you are truly not disabled before six weeks are up, you should not be drawing disability. It would actually be insurance fraud to do so. That said, by custom a woman is considered disabled for 6 weeks and all doctors will give evidence to that effect, so it’s basically moot.

          I have heard that women who came in and did work before the six weeks is up have had their disability terminated. Some people are even careful not to send work email or the like during their disability.

            1. tesyaa

              In some jobs, for the first six weeks after the baby is born the mother receives disability payments. It would be fraudulent to claim to be disabled if she weren’t actually disabled. But by convention doctors and insurers have decided that a mother is physically disabled during the first 6 postpartum weeks. As a mother I am OK with that. While many women may feel “fine”, the body is still recovering.

                1. Joey

                  I think you guys are confusing disability benefits which aren’t required by law and fmla. Most companies run them concurrently when possible so its easy to confuse the two

                2. ExceptionToTheRule

                  Joey – no, she’s right. Many companies pay maternity leave out as short-term disability.

              1. fposte

                At least in the U.S., disability isn’t standard–it’s an insurance policy that’s dependent on what you’re buying via your particular employer or state. California, for instance, provides for a total of ten weeks disability pay. My state provides nothing, and my employer has no standard amount because your leave involves your term of service.

                1. Jamie

                  Yes – it’s so variable here it’s totally a case by case thing.

                  Ours is self-funded and the criteria and policy for use is outlined in the handbook.

          1. Jamie

            Not every company has short term disability. And some that do offer it self fund – it depends on the terms of the policy (or company policy on STD if self funded) whether or not it’s fraud to collect if you’re physically ready to go back after a baby.

            Now it’s true that if the policy stipulates there is to be no work while on disability and you work it can terminate your disability. But there is no blanket rule for this.

          2. JoAnna

            Regardless of feeding method (breastfeeding or bottlefeeding), a mother is getting up every two hours (sometimes more often) to feed/soothe the baby at night, causing chronic sleep deprivation. I would argue that would constitute disability. My youngest son was born October 7 and I’m back to work now (I had 8 weeks of leave, 6 of which was STD and two weeks of which was vacation time) but I still feel disabled due to the sleep deprivation! (I’m up at 4:30 to get to work by 7, what with feeding/changing/soothing the baby before I go and my commute.)

      2. Judy

        Even without a c-section, both times I was given written orders for 2 weeks of no driving and no lifting anything heavier than the baby. (As in can’t lift the baby + carrier.) Luckily, my husband stayed home the first week both times and my mother came for the second week.

        1. fposte

          Sure, but that’s standard boilerplate. It really isn’t a carefully scrutinized research result (there was a great surgeon’s post about how random and unfounded the post-surgical 10-pound lifting limit is in general), and just as some people will need more, some people are okay with less.

          1. Lynn Whitehat

            Yup, after you have your second child, when they mention the lifting limit, ask them what you’re supposed to do with your toddler. Suddenly the “limit” just evaporates.

        2. JoAnna

          That’s odd. I’ve had five vaginal births (three different care providers in two different states, altogether) and I’ve never had a weight or driving restriction (other than, “get as much rest as possible and don’t overdo”).

          1. Anonymous

            I’m with you, JoAnna. All three of my vaginal births have resulted in no restrictions in terms of weight lifting or driving.

    5. Kerry

      It has nothing to do with the baby? Really, nothing? If you didn’t have a baby around to feed and for whom to care, you’d get a lot more sleep and have far less stress, etc. It has something to do with the baby.

      1. Judy

        My husband had a hernia surgery 3 years ago. 2″ incision. He was on disability for 8 weeks and couldn’t drive for 4 of them. I’m not sure it has that much to do with the baby.

        1. fposte

          But this is somebody who’s done this twice and has a pretty good idea of how much physical challenge recovery offers, so presumably she’s making a pretty informed decision.

            1. fposte

              Of course, but the unpredictable can’t be predicted–that’s why it’s called that. It doesn’t make sense to ask for a ton of time off just in case things go very, very wrong; you ask for the time off that’s the likeliest you’ll need based on reasonable information, and then if something goes wrong you extend it. That’s how leave for just about any health condition works.

        2. Laufey

          There’s also a difference between actually, physically cutting holes in someone (regardless of the size), and going trough a process involving natural holes that has been part of human evolution for, literally, thousands of years.

      2. Cruella Da Boss

        LOL…. Sorry, I’m on cold medication. That sounded like a chapter from “Needy Baby, Greedy Baby.”

        I should have clarified that the OP still needs the recovery time regardless of what she is doing with the baby.

        BTW I have four children. One pregnancy was a set of twins. Horrible c-section. May have included lobotomy

  6. fposte

    Adding to what Alison says about not drawing a deep gulf between you and other pregnant women–I think the relevant leave could still be considered maternity leave, because that doesn’t just mean “taking care of a kid” leave. I would therefore find it confusing if you tried to differentiate by saying it wasn’t. I think just being clear on the time you’re likely to be out is enough to clarify the expectation.

  7. Josh S

    Medical science is simply amazing, and the generosity of some folks to use their bodies for such a purpose is astounding.

    Major kudos to you and the medical team, OP.

      1. badger_doc

        Agreed!! +1 for science! I have looked into being a surrogate but I cannot because I do not have kids of my own. I do not want kids and my partner has had a vasectomey, but I would love to have a child for a couple who cannot. Good for you, OP for such a selfless act!

          1. Nichole

            Strictly a guess, but I would think it’s about being more of a known quantity as far as safety. I have had serious complications as a result of pregnancies, and doubt I would be approved as a surrogate because of them. However, the type of issue I had (blood clots) has only occurred when I was pregnant/postpartum, so without having had a child before, I would never know precautions were needed for my and baby’s safety.

  8. tesyaa

    If it were me, I would delay a career change until after the surrogacy was complete, the same way I would if I were pregnant and planning to keep the baby. No, I’m not trying to hold women back from following their professional dreams. However, there is too much room for unwelcome surprises, related to the birth itself but also including ingrained personal and religious attitudes that could color how people perceive you.

    If you were not employed and really needed the income, I’d say that you have no choice but to interview. But since you’re currently employed, there is good reason to wait.

  9. Colorado

    I can’t believe the comments about the employer having a problem with being a surrogate mother. It’s a good way to widdle out who you don’t want to work for I guess. Good for you!! You are doing an amazing thing for these people! Trust me.

  10. Anonymous

    I think you should be matter-of-fact about how the pregnancy will impact your schedule with your future employer.

    I do NOT think you should elaborate that you are carrying someone else’s baby. That opens you up to judgements with no real benefit. I realize a lot of people are giving you positive feedback here about what you are doing. I personally think it is a generous thing to do. However, not everyone feels that way about gestational carriers. And some people will assume you’re lying to cover up something else less unusual and more stigmatized – an abortion, miscarriage, or adoption.

    If they have further questions, or doubt that you will return to work, just tell them that you have made arrangements that you expect will allow you to return to work immediately. If you want to talk at the office about being a gestational carrier, do so after you’re hired.

  11. Brett

    Speaking of potentially illegal discrimination, just remember that several religions are strongly opposed to surrogacy (LDS and Catholic in particular, but probably others besides those). Of course, if a workplace is strongly religious enough in one of those denominations that they would refuse to hire you over being a gestational carrier, you probably don’t want to work there anyway.

    1. Ellie H.

      This is a genuine question for the group because I’m not sure.
      Is having issues with the practice of surrogacy acceptable as a point of view that reasonable people may have? By “having issues with” I mean not approving of it; thinking that it is wrong for people to ask or pay a woman to be a surrogate, and thinking that women should not be surrogates either out of love and generosity, or in exchange for money. Or would someone who has this viewpoint be generally understood to be narrow-minded and prejudiced?

      1. fposte

        I don’t think that’s ultimately answerable. However, I think refusing to hire someone as a result of her participation in surrogacy would be narrow-minded and prejudiced, and I would ask anyone who wanted to make such a refusal if they would similarly refuse to hire the baby’s father or mother.

        1. Judy

          There was an article I read in the last year or two that a Catholic school fired a non-Catholic teacher because it became known that her child was conceived by IVF.

          1. Jamie

            I don’t know the facts of that case, but generally speaking it’s different when you’re working for a religious institution in that they can factor in compatibility of employees with the tenets of their faith.

            But this is absolutely something that should be on the table during hiring.

        2. Jamie

          I agree that making any kind of hiring decision based judging others with different beliefs (irrelevant to the position) is narrow minded and prejudiced.

          But any personal conviction or belief can be seen as narrow minded and prejudiced to those to believe differently.

          I personally believe in these matters we should all live our own lives based on our personal convictions and allow others the freedom to do the same.

          Just like when it comes to religion, I know what is right for me – what gives me comfort…but I’d never presume that what works for me would work for anyone else – nor would I assume I’m right about the unknowable.

          If people are not putting others in harms way I think we should all live and let live – I can’t even imagine how exhausting it would be to go through life passing judgement on everyone who isn’t in lockstep with you. How do those people get anything done?

          1. Joey

            Shouldn’t it be okay to voice opinions (even strongly) when someone thinks it might impact the community or society?

            For example if there were a group that opposed all trade agreements with other nations is that narrow minded in and of itself

          2. fposte

            I think the problem is that many convictions about wrong and right aren’t limited to what one personally does. I wouldn’t say that I personally believe stealing is wrong, but I wouldn’t judge an employee for stealing because that’s a personal decision. Similarly, on many discrimination issues, it’s genuinely impossible for some people to live both according to their beliefs and legally. That’s why I think Ellie’s question about predominant thought is relevant, interesting, and way beyond the scope of the blog :-).

            1. Joey

              See I would and if challenged Id back it up because I believe that almost without question.

              But I also understand that a different decision might be right for someone who is stealing food so their children don’t starve. To me if that’s the only option they may know of I might understand, but would disagree that it’s okay.

              1. fposte

                Sorry, I think I phrased it weirdly and that we actually agree–what I meant is that stealing is an issue where I don’t think “My personal conviction is to avoid it but I don’t judge” works for most of us, because most of us do feel it’s true for other people. Heck, I wouldn’t even say that about cutting in line–I judge.

            2. Jamie

              I wasn’t clear. I was referring to personal convictions along the lines of these type of reproductive issues, or other inherently personal beliefs which don’t impact others or the work.

              I don’t feel it’s right to sit in judgement of people who make different personal choices than I would make for myself – because I don’t know what’s right for them.

              That’s different to me than sitting in judgement of people who exhibit behavior which would be detrimental to society or in the case of our discussion, the workplace.

              For example I couldn’t care less if another person has religious beliefs and if so, what they are. Doesn’t impact me or the work. I care very much if someone is dangerous or a liability and I feel free to base judgements on that.

      2. Judy

        I think it is less about surrogacy than it is about the opposition to IVF, which is how a surrogate pregnancy happens.

      3. Joey

        I think being narrow minded is not having any proof that your way is better for the community or society and not being open to listening.

          1. Ellie H.

            I like your definition, Joey. I think being open-minded and receptive to other people’s points of view and the potential that you may change your mind is a great virtue.

  12. not the mother

    Thank you all so much for the great insights into both sides of this issue, and some sides that I hadn’t even thought about (i.e. potential employers being “against” the concept of surrogacy). I just completed one of the interviews I had asked Alison about. I did not look pregnant, we did not discuss it, and I feel it went extremely well. If we get to the stage where I am a candidate who may receive an offer, I will follow the advice outlined above by many folks and let them know exactly what is going on.

    I did want clarify a few things. For my previous two deliveries everything went swimmingly. This information was also important to why I wanted to become a gestational carrier (aside from a deep desire to help someone with something I’m very passionate about and the fact that they actually took me up on it) and was relevant as I went through thorough testing with the IVF clinic for the IPs (intended parents). In fact after my second child I could have gone back to work in a few days as I felt that good, but my newborn son was the one who required all the care and recovery, not me.

    Granted every delivery is different and unforeseen things can always happen. I could also be hit by a bus on my way to work tomorrow. Personally I try not to dwell on that.

    And technically I would have the option to pursue a career change after the surrogacy is complete, but I have a feeling that things at my current place of employment are not good. I feel that I can see the writing on the wall and am attempting to be proactive in a potentially icky situation. I’d rather be searching for a position right now, while pregnant, than when I may be potentially out of work, though without child.

    Thanks again for all the great advice. You guys are a plethora of information and especially useful on a topic that I haven’t found any discussions on anywhere else. And I, too, love the watermelon comment!

  13. Just me

    Legal or not, a pregnancy would definitely sway a hiring decision especially if there’s another candidate equally qualified. If I was in need of filling a position, I probably wouldn’t want to risk hiring someone who may or may not be committed long term, who may very well also have attendance issues. And I say that as a mom of three whose kids and pregnancies have not affected my work ethic or attendance. But it is what it is, and people are still afraid of moms in the workforce. With that said, I did have a number of interviews while visibly pregnant. Needless to say I did not receive any call backs. I found out I was pregnant right before I found out my worksite was going to shit down and I’d be laid off. Major Bummer! The silver lining was that I could not be laid off while on maternity leave and the timing was perfect for me to take my disability leave and with severance pay was able to enjoy my 5 months of unemployment home with baby.

    If I had to do It again, I would definitely broach the subject and let the potential employer know my post pregnancy plans and my work history so I could alleviate any fear or apprehensions they may have, rather than let them guess and worry.

  14. Ann Furthermore

    I just want to say that I think you’re doing an incredibly wonderful and generous thing. Bless you.

  15. VictoriaHR

    Thank you for being so selfless and giving a childless couple a beautiful baby!

    I would be a gestational carrier for someone, but they said I’m not a good choice because I’m over 35 and overweight. Pft.

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