Best Practices for Telling Your Children About Their Birth Through Egg Donation
It’s never easy explaining to your child where they came from or how they came to be, but it’s an essential moment between the parent and the child. If your child was conceived with the help of an egg donor and carried by a surrogate, that discussion might feel especially overwhelming.
We’ve prepared this blog post to help describe the various reasons why you should talk to your child about their surrogate birth, and how to do it in the most appropriate and tactful way possible.
Should I tell my child about their conception via egg donation?
While each parent has their own perspective or philosophy on revealing a child’s history, we recommend being as honest and straightforward as possible with your children from early on.
Here are some reasons why not telling your child could be problematic:
- A confused sense of self and identity. Children may question where they came from at an early age, particularly if they have different genetic traits or features (such as an Asian baby being born to a white, gay couple). The longer the truth is covered up or postponed, the more doubtful the child may be about who they are and their place in the world.
- Hiding the truth is a difficult game. Crafting elaborate stories, or asking multiple friends and family to participate in some charade takes a lot of time and effort compared to telling the truth.
- If the child finds out in another way, they may display intense distrust of their parents. It’s happened before: a family friend may casually slip and mention the egg donor or surrogacy origin, and the child may feel traumatized to find their world is far different than what they believed.
- The risk of inaccurate medical data. Children who do not know their genetic background may run into medical issues down the line, since they may not fully understand their family’s medical history.
How should I tell my child about surrogacy?
Good question, and one we’ve heard before. In our experience, here are the common steps we recommend in having the first conversations around egg donation and surrogacy.
- Prepare your conversation. Refrain from impulsive commentary or dialogue. Take your time to think through the most sensitive, easy-to-understand terminology, depending on their age and understanding of the world.
If they are young, try to use short, familiar words and even use a children’s book to convey your ideas. Explain that some mothers are just wired in a different way and cannot have a baby like everyone else. However, these women are still mothers through what they say and do for their baby. Read our post on our top 5 books to explain surrogacy.
If they are more mature, you might want to explain the various causes of infertility, and how infertility is actually highly common for women across the United States.
Find a quiet time and place. A big part of preparing the conversation is finding the right setting. Try and pick a time when there are no distractions. After school, or on a weekend morning is ideal because this is when your child is most attentive. You want to make sure they take you seriously and listen to you carefully.
Use simple language and tools. Don’t assume your child has the same vocabulary or worldview as you do. Avoid jargon and technical language: there’s no need to get into the specifics of In-Vitro Fertilization or the causes of infertility. Just explain the process using simple terms such as “pregnancy,” “baby,” and “mommy.” Again, use the examples set by children’s books to convey an easy-to-understand message.
- Listen to their questions. Your child may not understand at first, and may ask what an egg donor or a surrogate means or if they are not your “real” child. Listen, pause and think of your response, then answer it as clearly and succinctly as you can. Constantly remind them that they are still your children, you are still their mother/parent, and that your love for them is the same. Assure them that they are just like any other kid in school.
A Continuing Dialogue
A conversation is just the beginning, the first of many. The dialogue goes on, changing based on new laws and developments. Expect to hear more questions about growing up, surrogacy, egg donation and pregnancies in general. Continue to involve your child in your conversations around egg donation and surrogacy, so they may develop greater self-confidence and a firmer understanding that families are made in all different ways.
To learn more about discussing surrogacy with your loved ones, check out our previous post: Sharing Your Gestational Surrogacy Journey with your Children. We also explain why the conversation is so important in the post Talking To Your Child About Egg Donation.
And regularly check back for more blog posts on the surrogacy industry and family building journey in our official ConceiveAbilities blog.