Every family’s journey is different. Some intended parents choose surrogacy for only one child, while others move through the process multiple times to grow their families to the size that feels right. If you had a child before your fertility issues arose, or if you have children from previous surrogacy arrangements, you’ll need to explain surrogacy to them before the next little one arrives. Otherwise, they may be confused and unprepared for the appearance of the new baby. Here are some tips for letting your child know about surrogacy.
Openness and transparency is the best policy for this topic, as it is with many other topics you’ll have to explain throughout your son’s or daughter’s childhood. Children can often tell when things are being kept from them, and if they suspect anything less than honesty on your part, they may view the whole event with suspicion and anxiety.
Start at the Beginning
If your current children were born via surrogacy, you may have already told them the story of their birth. If not, now is the time to explain it. You might say something like this: “Before you were born, we wanted a baby so much. But no matter what we did, we could not have a baby. Then one day, a kind woman said, ‘I will carry your baby in my tummy for you so that it can be healthy and grow until it is ready to be born.’ And so the nice lady carried you in her tummy, and when you were big enough, you came into the world. The wonderful lady put you into our arms, and we were so happy to finally have you, the baby that we wanted so much!”
Then you can explain, “We think it’s time to add another little baby to our family. So another kind lady (or the same kind lady) is carrying our baby in her tummy. It is already our baby, but she is helping it grow. When it is ready to come into the world, it will join our family. Then you’ll have a baby brother or sister!”
Probably you have some photos of your other kids’ births around the house, in albums, or on the computer. Show your kids the pictures of the momentous occasion when they were first placed in your arms. If possible, show them photos of the surrogate who is carrying the new baby so that they can put a face with the concept. You can also show them ultrasound images and point out the baby’s limbs and features.
Get the Kids Involved
Once you explain about the baby being in another mommy’s tummy for a while, get your kids involved in preparing for the baby in any way that you can. They won’t have the opportunity to watch your belly expand over the nine months or to feel the baby kicking inside, but they can begin building a connection to their new sibling in other ways. They can help you pick out clothes and toys, prepare the nursery, and perhaps even make cards to thank the surrogate for her help in giving them their baby brother or sister. Explain the role of various individuals and groups involved in the process, such as your assisted reproduction attorney and the surrogacy agency.
As you explain surrogacy to your children and wait expectantly for your new little one, check out some helpful books that teach kids about surrogacy. A Tiny Itsy Bitsy Gift of Life by Carmen Martinez Jovel is about an egg donor, while Why I’m So Special by Carla Lewis-Long explains the topic of Surrogacy. There is also Sacha, the Little Bright Shooting Star by Sofia Prezani. If you use these resources, remember that your own open-hearted, honest words are still the best way to help your kids understand and embrace the idea of surrogacy.
About Attorney Nicole K. White
As a mother by gestational surrogacy and as a surrogacy lawyer, my goal is to help you experience the joy and fulfillment of starting or growing a family of your own through third party reproduction. Because I am a mother by gestational surrogacy, I know firsthand what you will need – answers to your questions, support and guidance – and, I know what you will go through when starting your family. My experience as a surrogacy lawyer helps me guide you through the financial, emotional and legal aspects of surrogacy and third party reproduction. I can say with confidence that few (if any) attorneys deliver the unique insight I can bring to your surrogacy journey.