If you are like most surrogates, you completed your own family before beginning the surrogacy process, and you are currently raising your children in your home — which means that, sooner or later, you will need to talk with them about your surrogacy plans.
Surrogacy is a complicated topic, even for many adults to understand, and it can be difficult to know when and how to talk to your children about surrogacy. In this article, find suggestions for beginning the discussion and promoting a positive view of surrogacy among your children.
Involving Your Children in the Surrogacy Process
Surrogacy is a family event. As the surrogate, you do the majority of the work — but the process will have an impact on your entire family, including your children. For example, your pregnancy and appointments may make you less available to your children, and your children may experience a wide range of emotions, from jealousy and longing for a sibling to the excitement and eagerness to help another family.
It is almost always beneficial to involve your children in the surrogacy experience. Your children’s level of involvement may vary based on their age, maturity, and feelings toward the surrogacy, and will likely begin with a gentle introduction to the topic of surrogacy, followed by a more concrete explanation once a pregnancy is confirmed.
Here are some ideas for introducing surrogacy to your children and involving them in the surrogacy process:
- Start by reading children’s books about surrogacy and other family-building methods. These books help normalize surrogacy and gently introduce the idea. Mention that you might want to help another family have a baby someday, and ask your children what they would think of that.
- Once you’ve found a match with the intended parents, tell your children about the intended family and show them pictures. Tell their story, and explain that you’re going to try to help them have a baby.
- Ask your children to help you take pictures to send to the intended parents as well. Tell them that these pictures will be included in a special storybook for the baby so that your family will always be remembered.
- Let your children write letters or draw pictures for the intended parents and the baby.
- If possible, have your children visit the intended parents’ home so they can see where the baby is going to live.
- Let your children pick out a special toy for the baby that they can take to the nursery.
- Go out to dinner as a family with the intended parents so your children can get to know them.
- Teach your children how to talk to others about the pregnancy and the surrogacy. Give them responses that they can use if they receive questions or comments from their peers, friends and strangers.
These steps will give your children a solid understanding of what surrogacy is, how it works, why you are doing it and where the baby belongs. Involving your children in the surrogacy process will encourage them to see surrogacy as a positive and special gift and will help prepare them for the baby to be born and go home with the intended parents.
Guidelines for Talking to Your Children about Surrogacy
Surrogates should continue to talk with their children openly and honestly about surrogacy throughout the process — this should not be a one-time conversation, but an ongoing dialogue. Every conversation you have with your children about surrogacy should be:
- Age-appropriate: it is important to honestly explain the surrogacy process, but you don’t want to overwhelm your children with surrogacy information. Instead, use simple language that is easy for your children to understand. For very young children, it might be best to explain that babies need a safe place to grow before they are born, and that some women can’t grow their babies on their own. Explain that surrogates are special women who help these families, and that you are thinking of helping another family have a baby.
- Positive and excited: Children are very open-minded and tend to model their parents’ attitudes and behaviors. If you explain surrogacy as something positive and special, they will likely see it that way, too, and it will be something they can be proud of.
- Mutual: Allow two-way communication during your surrogacy conversations. Encourage your children to ask questions, and listen to their thoughts and feelings on the subject. Surrogacy may be a difficult concept for them to process, so give your children plenty of opportunities to ask questions and express their feelings throughout the process.
- Reassuring: Some children may struggle to understand that the baby you are having is not your baby to keep, and they may worry that they too will have to go live with another family. Assure your children that you love them and will continue to take care of them, while this baby will go home to his or her parents and be just as loved and cared for there.
Using these guidelines, it may be helpful to write out some of your thoughts before sharing them with your children. If you are raising your children with a partner, speak with them on this subject so both parents are on the same page when it comes to discussing surrogacy with your children.
Children’s Books about Surrogacy
Books can be a great way to help introduce surrogacy to your children. While it may be difficult to find a story that perfectly reflects your situation, these children’s books may be a good place to start:
- The Kangaroo Pouch: A Story about Surrogacy for Young Children by Sarah Phillips Pellet
- Sophia’s Broken Crayons: A Story of Surrogacy from a Young Child’s Perspective by Crystal A. Falk
- Sacha, the Little Bright Shooting Star: The Story of Surrogacy by Sofia Prezani
- The Very Kind Koala: A Surrogacy Story for Children by Kimberly Kluger-Bell
- Hope & Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Surrogacy by Irene Celcer
As you go through the surrogacy process, it is important to keep communication open. Continue to share information about your surrogacy journey with your children, and invite them to ask questions. It may help make surrogacy a normal part of everyday life and conversation, and may make your children more open-minded and accepting of families of all backgrounds.
If you need additional ideas for how to bring up the topic of surrogacy in conversation, talk with your surrogacy specialist, counselor, or other surrogacy professional for help developing a plan.
Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy or starting the process? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information now.