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.
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:
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.
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 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.