Talking To Your Child Born Via Surrogacy
Sometimes parents agonize over telling children how they came to be in the world, whether it was through sex and resulting conception/pregnancy/delivery, or adoption, or IVF, or egg/sperm donor, or surrogacy. It can seem like too much information for your little one, and we love the kids just the same regardless, so why do we have to tell them right away anyway? But it turns out that being open with kids when it comes to their origin story (just like superheroes!) can make a huge difference in understanding themselves and feeling confident in who they are. Here are 6 tips on talking to your child about her or his birth via surrogate:
1. Keep a baby book during the pregnancy and birth.
Not only is it fun for you as parents to keep all the details about this exciting time, it will also be endlessly interesting to your child. Pictures of you and your carrier at appointments, ultrasound pictures, appointment dates, birth pictures, handprints and footprints, hospital bands – all of these things will help you remember everything you went through to have your baby, and will be eye-opening for your little one to look through (and to cherish).
2. Start talking to your baby about his or her conception and birth early, and keep the conversation going.
It may seem strange to talk to a little baby about his or her birth story, but it’s really a great way to get a “dialogue” started and to start normalizing his or her birth. Saying things like “Jane was so generous and helped us have you! You were in her belly, but you were always our baby. We couldn’t have you on our own, so we asked for help, and here you are!” can start to let your child know what role your carrier played, and how that doesn’t change his or her parentage. It just makes it even more special.
If you talk about your child’s birth from the beginning of their lives, it never comes across as strange or as a shock. It is just how it always was. If a child only starts to learn about his or her origins as an older child, there can be some stress around why their story is different from their peers’ stories. Thankfully young children are very open and can easily accept the narrative about their birth via surrogate.
3. Be confident in your own story around your baby’s birth
Your story of facing infertility or deciding that you were going to grow your family by surrogacy is the most important one to your family. Be confident and proud in that choice you made, and your child will follow your lead. It’s one thing to talk about being sad about infertility, but to talk in hushed voices about infertility or about artificial reproductive technologies (ART) can give children the feeling that it’s shameful, which it most certainly is not. It’s just one more beautiful way that babies are born into the world. Embrace that!
4. Read books specifically written for children born via surrogate.
There are a number of books written for children born via surrogate. One of my favorites is Why I’m So Special: A Book About Surrogacy written by Carla Lewis-Long. Grown in Another Garden by Crystal Falk is another wonderful book aimed at younger kids to talk about being born by surrogacy. A very widely read book about surrogacy for little ones is the adorable The Kangaroo Pouch: A Story About Surrogacy for Young Children by Sarah Phillips and Laura Faust. And, of course, you can always print pictures from your own journey and laminate them with text to make your own book about your own family. Children love to see books about themselves!
5. Encourage your family and friends to be open about your child’s birth story.
Sometimes the family and friends of intended parents aren’t sure how to approach your surrogacy, and may be concerned about bringing it up in front of your child/ren. Letting family and friends know that you are open with your children about their conception story, and encouraging them to be open as well can help normalize the story for kids.
6. Connect with other families who have used a surrogate to have a baby.
Connecting with other families who have also been on a surrogacy journey can really help you and your child bond around the special way your child was born. These other families really understand the process, of course, and can give tips or moral support as you navigate parenthood via surrogacy. If you used an agency, see if there is a support group for intended parents available, or some kind of get-together of agency intended parents. If you were self-matched, a simple search of MeetUp.com or of surrogacy boards might bring you some good contacts. Your surrogate and her family may also be a great resource for you – they understand the surrogacy process and can help provide support around discussions with kids.
Welcoming any child into the world is a joyous and love-filled time, and for children born via surrogate that is certainly no different (and maybe even more poignant because of the amount of time the parents have been working towards parenthood). Telling your children about your surrogacy journey, and about how happy you are to have them here as a result, can give them comfort and pride in their birth story, and can help us all appreciate the wonder and beauty of bringing children into the world, no matter the birth story!