This letter is from Dear Prudence at Slate magazine. I thought it was an interesting question to answer.  You can find the letter here at Slate magazine.  It’s similar to a question I’ve answered before.

My brother-in-law got married last year. Now he and his husband want a baby and want my wife to be the mother! My wife and I have two kids, which is enough for me, but my wife always wanted more. We both agree that any more would not be doable on a single income, but she is very gung-ho about being a surrogate for her brother. They want a child related to them and offered to pay expenses and basically fund my kids’ college tuition.


It seems like a win-win, except I hate the idea. The idea of my wife being pregnant with someone else’s child just bothers me. What should I do?

Dear LW,

It should bother you.  That’s a normal response for a spouse in that situation. If my imaginary husband wanted to have a child with another woman, I’d be pissed.  Divorce would be in our future.  That’s how pissed I would be.  Your wife has other ideas though.  I question whether your wife would actually give her child to her brother to raise because she wants more kids of her own.  That’s not going to work.  The two of you have agreed to not have any more children due to financial issues.

To be honest, there is nothing wrong with your wife wanting to be a surrogate mother, but how would that affect the family dynamic.  This is a weird situation.  Your wife will give birth to a child fathered by her brother’s husband.  Will your kids call this child a brother/sister or will the child be a cousin?  How will your children react to this new child?  Besides surrogate, what other roles will your wife assume for this child?  Will she help raise this child as a mother figure?

Which leads me to my next question…. What if her brother and his husband decide they don’t want the child after all?  Your wife will be tickled pink because she wanted an extra addition to the family, but this new baby will bring financial and emotional stress to your family.  Not to mention resentment because you hated the idea in the first place. What if your brother-in-law and his husband divorce? Who would have custody of the child?  There are so many questions running through my head.  Your brother may want to raise a child who is related to him, but sometimes we just don’t get what we want.  They just have to accept that. That’s life.

Now… I would suggest marriage counseling with you and your wife.  Bring up all of your concerns about this situation and the agreement the two of you made to not have any more kids.  Tell her how this makes you feel as her husband.  Let her know that this may be a deal-breaker for you.  I would hate for that to happen for your family.  You can’t control her behavior though. She may decide to go along with it.   Then you’d have to make a big decision.  You can either stand by her and muddle through this complicated situation or divorce her, which will tear your family apart.

I hope everything works out for the sake of your family.

~Jana Leigh

Readers, what do you think about this situation?  It’s very complicated.

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