Surrogacy can be a complicated topic, and trying to explain this process to your children can be nerve-wracking, as you want to paint a positive picture while educating them on the topic. As surrogacy is becoming widely adopted, the need for guidance and tips on talking to your children has never been greater.
You want your children to understand but also be excited about the miracle that is happening, so finding ways to involve them does help. Finding the right words isn’t always easy; hopefully, this guide will help you find the right words and inspire some successful conversations with your little ones.
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Surrogacy should involve the whole family; if you are the surrogate, you’re doing most of the work and it will affect your day-to-day life and your family, especially your children. There is no hiding the fact that you’re the surrogate and as we all know, children love to ask questions and are full of curiosity.
For example, as you get further along, heading to your due date, you will be making appointments, having checkups, and checking in with the family, all of which will take time away from your children.
If you aren’t involving your children in this process, they may develop feelings of jealousy, confusion and resentment towards you and the baby, or a longing for a new sibling to join the family.
To avoid these feelings, the choice to include your children in the process and educate them on why this baby isn’t coming home with you is very important. It is almost always beneficial; your children’s level of involvement may vary based on their age, maturity, and feelings towards the topic of surrogacy, followed by a more concrete explanation once a pregnancy is confirmed.
Family therapist Kim Kluger-Bell said, “I always recommend to parents that they begin telling their child about their birth story as young as possible.” This would especially be true if surrogacy is something you’re either willing to do for a family or would need to grow your family.
Kulger-Bell further went on to explain, “Most kids start to become aware of pregnant women and know that ‘babies grow in mommy’s tummy’ around 3 or 4 years old, which is an ideal time to begin talking about the special way they came into the world.” Try talking about how other moms need your help.
Although it may seem daunting, the conversation is better to be had as early as possible; delaying it can make it into a bigger deal and cause anxiety around the topic.
The sooner you talk about the surrogacy experience, the more natural it will feel to everyone, including other siblings. Open conversations go a long way in normalizing non-traditional paths to parenthood and creating these safe spaces early on will help all your children improve their emotional intelligence and vulnerability.
First, throw on some comfy loungewear or gym leggings before you gather your little ones close and begin with the magic of storytelling. Comfort is key as this conversation can be a long one. Transport them to a realm and a hypothetical story that, in reality, has some truth to it. Speak of storks and stars, of wishes to the moon.
You can make them heroes in the story because every story needs a mighty hero and you know how important it is to help people in need.
Create a beautiful illustration of the Garden of Love, a place where families are raised with kindness, love, and a hint of magic. Your kids are the flowers; sometimes the stardust needs a helping hand to make the garden bloom.
The way you tell these stories can vary with your child’s age, intelligence and overall personality, but as long as you explain the importance of love and how important it is, it’s a great topic to add to the story.
As the story goes on, introduce the idea of teamwork—a lovely dance of love, trust, and cooperation. Explain how families can collaborate with surrogates to welcome new members, much as bees and flowers do to generate sweetness.
Encourage a candid discussion in which your kids’ inquiries serve as the main topic of discussion. Reassure them that understanding comes from curiosity acting as a compass.
Some of your children may think they are being replaced if they are still having difficulty understanding that a baby is entering the family and is not in your tummy. It’s important to reassure them and to emphasize that they are a new family member, a new best friend, and an addition.
If you’re the surrogate, explaining that the baby is for another family can be confusing and disappointing. Remind and reassure them that the baby is going to a kind family that has a lot of love to give and needs the baby to complete their family.
Choose from several books available that are based on surrogacy and other family-building methods. These books can be introduced naturally and help normalize the idea and topic of surrogacy.
Mention that in the future you might want to help another family have a baby someday, and ask your children how that makes them feel and what they think about it.
Some books may include:
- The Kangaroo Pouch: A Story about Surrogacy for Young Children by Sarah Phillips Pellet
- Sacha, the Little Bright Shooting Star: The Story of Surrogacy by Sofia Prezani
- Hope and Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Surrogacy by Irene Celcer
Once you’ve gone ahead with finding a family that needs your help, or vice versa, you’re searching for a woman kind enough to help you grow your family. Show and tell your children about the intended family or the surrogate.
You can share their story and explain how the whole process of bringing another baby into the world makes a family extremely happy.
You can also get your children involved by asking them to help and taking pictures of your growing belly. Tell them that these pictures will be included in a special storybook for the baby so that your family will always be remembered.
To make things easier, you could bring up the idea of writing letters and drawing pictures for the intended parents; this could give them a chance to express their feelings without words but also allow them to view the process of surrogacy as a positive and good thing.
You can plan a dinner to bring everyone together to meet during this time. Some surrogates choose to help women who are close to them grow their families; even so, the notion of bringing the families together not only gives your children a chance to ask more questions, but they get to see where the baby is going, which can help them understand and make peace with the process a lot easier for both families.