As a surrogate, raising your own children can be challenging enough, but explaining surrogacy to them presents a different challenge. They may ask why you have a growing belly, whether or not the baby will be a new sibling, and other insightful questions.
Regardless of when or how, it’s important to tell your children about your decision to be a surrogate. With a little preparation, you can explain the process in a way that is easy for them to understand and answer any questions they may have.
Read surrogacy-related children’s books. Surrogacy is a broad and sometimes complex topic to understand, let alone explain to children. Luckily, books exist that help simplify the concept of surrogacy in a way that young ones can understand. One example is The Kangaroo Pouch: A story about surrogacy for young children by Sarah Phillips Pellet, which tells the story of a young kangaroo’s mother and her decision to help a family through surrogacy.
For more books to help explain the surrogacy process, check out our previous blog post.
Share your journey in words that your child will understand. There’s no need to talk down to your child - they are capable of thinking in unique ways and can learn faster than we realize. At the same time it’s unlikely your child knows what “in-vitro fertilization” is. Focus on terms and concepts that your child can understand. Explain that you will carry someone else’s child for them to help them start a family. Share the experiences of other surrogate mothers who have gone through the same journey.
Get your children involved with your journey. Your children don’t have to be detached from your surrogacy journey. Show them photos of the intended parents or the baby’s new home. You can ask them if they want to to draw a picture or write a letter for the family. The best way to share your journey with your children is to get them involved.
“Am I getting a brother/ sister?”
Your child will likely ask this if you look pregnant but haven’t explained your surrogacy journey. Be straightforward without giving too much detail. Just explain that you are carrying a child for another family because they can’t do it on their own.
“Why can’t the other mommy have a baby?”
Unless they’re much older (at least 12 years old), there’s no need to go into detail about the intended family’s challenges in conceiving. Just repeat: “the other mommy can’t have a baby, so I’m helping her have one.”
“Why can’t the baby live with our family?”
Explain that the baby belongs to another family. Relate it to a family friend staying over, or to babysitting.
“Will I get to see the baby again?”
Your response depends on your relationship with the intended parents. If you have a close bond with them and have agreed to stay in touch, you can visit them every once in awhile. If the intended parents prefer a more distant relationship, tell your child that the baby will grow up with a happy and caring family.
“Will I have to live with the other family?”
Sometimes it may be confusing for children to understand who their real family is, since their mother’s child is going to another family. Be clear about who is in your family, and that you are only helping another family have a baby.
A little preparation can go a long way. To help your discussion with your children, we’ve provided a couple extra links you may find helpful. If you have any other questions not covered in this post or in these resource pages, be sure to get in contact with our team of experts.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.