Involving your children in the surrogacy process is important to a successful journey, and should be navigated with care.
During a surrogacy pregnancy, your children will naturally have questions about your growing belly and the new people you’ve introduced into your life (the intended parents). Your older children and teens may also be fielding questions from other children at school, or perhaps even from other family members or neighbors. Even if others are not attempting to be rude or invasive, the sensitivity of the topic may cause some awkward encounters and your children may not know how to respond.
Generally, over time, the intended parent-surrogate relationship remains positive. Involving your children in this life-changing event will help to strengthen the bonds of your family and provide a wholly unique educational experience.
Make sure the information is age-appropriate.
For younger children, you may simply want to explain that families come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes people need help carrying their babies. Some surrogates have explained it in terms of “mommy has a working belly that can help grow babies, so we are helping others who don’t have a working belly to grow babies.” A popular book that All Families Surrogacy sends to all new surrogates is The Kangaroo Pouch. It is a sweet story that is suited for younger children, to help them understand that basic premise of surrogacy.
For older children, you may wish to provide a more detailed explanation, depending on their age and level of understanding. For example, you might explain the IVF process and how the child will not be biologically related to you or your family members. It is also recommended that children get to know the intended parents, so they are familiar with the baby’s parents and the home the baby will be raised in.
Maintain a positive and excited attitude.
An open-minded younger child will be receptive to the moods and reactions of others, and most of all, your own. Creating a positive environment and presenting your surrogacy as an exciting story will help your child to be more open-minded about the idea, too.
You may also wish to explain that the child will have an important role in the process. Consider engaging a young child in “taking care” of the baby, such as reading it stories or telling the baby about how wonderful their parents are and how excited their parents are to meet them.
When it comes to younger children, a healthy imagination can give way to some troubling thoughts. A young child might wonder if they will be given away to another family, too; or if the baby being given away is their sibling.
In addition, the time needed to complete your surrogacy may have an impact upon the time you normally spend with your child. Appointments, meetings, and other obligations and activities related to the intended parents will take up more hours in the day. Younger children may experience jealousy as a result. By reassuring your child that these time-consuming activities are temporary and that they are helping a great thing to happen, you will be able to help them to understand what is really happening, as well as develop more excitement about the process.
Keep the conversation going.
It’s important to keep an ongoing conversation about the process as your surrogacy progresses and allow your child to ask as many questions as they need. As pregnancy progresses, it is likely that children will have different and new questions as time goes on.
As other children ask questions and express curiosity about what is going on in your family, tell your child that they are welcome to help others to learn, too. Your child may take pride in their role of helping to educate other children about the importance of surrogacy.
In the beginning, if your child(ren) is(are) younger, they may initially ask if they are getting a new brother or sister. Of course, you’ll have to clarify that they are not, but you can also explain that the baby’s parents will be receiving a new baby and convey how exciting that is that your family could help make that happen.
There are many books aimed at younger children that can help to explain the surrogacy process and why their parent(s) have made that decision. You can pave the path to more complex, educational, and meaningful conversations by introducing stories that tackle difficult topics in an accessible way.
If needed, your agency may also be able to arrange surrogacy specific counseling, to help you and your child adjust to the many questions and changes that can happen during a surrogacy. As you travel along your surrogacy journey, All Families Surrogacy can help to ease this process of educating your children and help your family to make the surrogacy an enriching and empowering experience for everyone.