For some parents, they must create their families through IVF, adoption, and, yes, surrogacy. Though surrogacy is becoming more accepted and well-known, there’s still a lot of negative connotations and lack of education within the community at large at what surrogacy entails and the beauty of this family-making process.
So for those parents who have children via surrogacy, the question remains, “how and when do I talk to my children about their surrogacy story?”
Let’s start with the “when,” part of the question. Research has shown that it’s okay to tell your children about their surrogacy birth origins — in fact, some studies have suggested that waiting until age 7 is too late and that children told earlier are much more adjusted, especially if their parents don’t show distress concerning the surrogacy journey.
Now what’s the best way for parents to discuss their children’s surrogate story? Well, for some families, they maintain communication and some form of a relationship with their surrogate, and therefore, the discussion starts early and is integrated in the child’s life early on. For other parents, they don’t have contact with their surrogate, but that isn’t to say that you can’t introduce your children’s surrogacy story to them easily and comfortably.
Surrogate.com suggests that you begin early with infants. Gather a baby book with pictures or a USB with video. This makes it easy for children to “see” their beautiful story and elevates their story to something special (as it, of course, is).
If it helps, write out their surrogacy story. The more you practice expressing their surrogacy story, the easier it will be for you to share their surrogacy story with them. This may be in letter form, or perhaps it’s in paragraph form in their baby book, but it can be an educational and therapeutic way to get your thoughts out on page.
As children get older, they may notice a pregnant friend or family member and may begin asking questions about babies, how they’re born, and who carried them.
Take this chance to sit down as a family in a comfortable spot in the house and share their surrogacy story. Keep the language simple but honest, and if this comes up more than once as the child grows older, adjust your language to fit their educational understanding. Consider bringing in photos or video of your child’s birth into the conversation. And then lastly, express how it was a beautiful process that brought your lovely child to you!
Children’s books are other great ways to help explain your child’s surrogacy story. Gal and Noa’s Daddies and The Twin Kangaroo Treasure Hunt, a Gay Parenting Story, are two wonderful children’s books that feature the LGBT experience with surrogacy. The Very Kind Koala: a Surrogacy Story for Children and Sophia’s Broken Crayons are other great surrogacy stories too. By integrating children’s books with surrogacy story lines into your children’s lives, it helps to normalize the process for them and gives you a reference when discussing their surrogacy story.
Sharing your children’s surrogacy journey will not only be helpful for you and your family, but it removes the stress of other family members and friends from keeping your child’s surrogacy story a secret. Better yet, it is a reminder that your family’s surrogacy journey was a beautiful process and isn’t something to be held back — but celebrated in every way.