Telling Children The Story Of Surrogacy

Becoming a parent through a surrogacy arrangement involves jumping through many hoops both physical and psychological and it does not end at the long awaited arrival of your child for there arises the issue of disclosure; that is when and how to tell one’s child about their conception and how to broach such a potentially overwhelming subject that could undermine all the effort that we as parents make to build a loving and nurturing environment to ensure that our child grows up confident and happy.

sacha-the-little-bright-shooting-star Research shows that it is better for a child to know his or her birth story as early as four. It is a time when mummy’s and daddy’s every word is taken at face value and accepted without question. To leave it too long one runs the risk of the story being revealed in an inappropriate manner, which can serve to destabilise both the child and the parents. Accidental or belated disclosure can cause a tremendous sense of hurt, anger, and betrayal. Leaving it longer still, to tell the story or not to tell at all, you run the risk of a disaffected teenager finding out through a third party with dire consequences.

We decided it would be easier to tell our own son’s birth story with the aid of a book. I searched for something that would tell the story sensitively, artistically and in an age appropriate way but all I found were books that were too anatomical and cold. This is how our picture book Sacha, the Little Bright Shooting Star was born which I wrote, illustrated and published myself. Sacha, the Little Bright Shooting Star strives to add a sense of tenderness and magic that brings the story to life through a story of bears. The story hinges around baby bear Sacha who one night appears as an apparition above his intended parents as they lay sleeping together in their cave and whispers in their ear “Soon, very soon we will be together”.

surrogacy-children When Nanook bear hands his seed and precious honey to Otsana, the surrogate bear, the delicate issue of conception is dealt with. While recounting the story to your child instead of ‘seed’ for a traditional surrogacy simply replace with ‘egg’ for a gestational surrogacy. The bears have been drawn lifelike and with quite neutral names and neutral appearance and therefore again, same sex adaptation of the story is possible. However, for us, the most important issue to get across to our child was that he was most wanted and that a third party (the surrogate) helped mummy and daddy achieve their dream.

Our son loved the story and we read it to him many times. We did not probe him whether he understood or not, choosing to wait for when he was ready to discuss it. It was about a year later when he began to ask more precise questions about his birth and made the link between himself and Sacha bear. The book is just the beginning of the journey our child will make in understanding how he was created and we hope it will give him the tools to be proud of who he is.

You can find out more about Sacha, the Little Bright Shooting Star as well as order a copy of the book here.

British House of Commons passes Marriage Equality Bill

“Marriage of same sex couples is lawful.”

These are the simple, opening words of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which passed the British House of Commons this evening in a historic vote.

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The bill passed by a margin of 225, with 400 members of Parliament voting in favor and 175 (primarily members of the Conservative party) voting against the measure. The bill will likely move to the House of Lords after the Queen addresses Parliament this spring. From there it could become law.

The strong majority in tonight’s vote will likely increase the chances of the bill being able to get through the House of Lords this year, according to The Guardian.

Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the vote as “an important step forward” despite the opposition of about 140 of his Conservative party colleagues.

Same-sex couples in England and Wales can currently obtain civil partnerships. A process to convert these into marriages is outlined in the bill.

What is the effect on surrogacy?

British intended parents who are pursuing surrogacy typically obtain parental orders to secure their parental rights within 6 months of their child’s birth. Both heterosexual and same-sex couples can be granted parental orders. And since 2010, gay couples have been allowed to apply, even if they are not civil partners, according to the “Guide for Gay Dads” from Stonewall, the British LGBT advocacy group.

Marriage equality isn’t likely to change the way gay British couples secure parental rights following surrogacy arrangements. However, being able to raise a child in a family that is considered the same as those headed by married heterosexual couples will be a huge step forward for LGBT families and for gay rights.

We congratulate all of our British parents and intended parents on this historic advance.

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photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc