When you become a surrogate, the experience affects not only you, but your family – including your kids. They are a very important part of your journey! Many women have questions about what to say to their kids about being a surrogate, how to talk to them about carrying a baby that won’t be joining their family, and how to approach the subject of what Mommy is doing for another family.
Two-time experienced surrogate – and Circle’s Surrogate Presceening Coordinator – Heather shares how she and her husband approached the topic of surrogacy with their children, and how they made them part of the process.
Start the conversation.
This can feel like the hardest part – where and how do you start? The conversation will vary from family to family depending on your children’s ages. No child is too young or too old to be included! Heather’s children were 2- and 5-years-old when she shared her surrogacy with them. “We kept it very simple for their understanding. There are actually quite a few books geared towards children that teach about the surrogacy process as well as IVF. We started reading these books once we knew we were going to be moving forward with a surrogacy journey.” This was a great way for Heather and her husband to plant the seed of surrogacy with their children.
“Once we were matched with our Intended Parents we decided it was officially time to share the news! We told our daughters from the beginning that we loved them immensely and wanted to help another family have a baby to love because we felt that bond was so special. Because we had already been reading about surrogacy they were very receptive. We told them the doctor would help by creating a tiny baby too small to even see called an embryo. The doctor would put their baby in Mommy’s belly and we would get to help the baby grow big and strong until the baby was ready to be born and go home with his family!”
Kids are very compassionate little individuals and can easily understand the concept of helping someone. The amount of detail you share should be relevant to their age, and what you know they will understand. You know your children best, how they learn and process new information.
Involve them in the process.
One of the best things can you do during the process is to involve your children. With younger children, they will have a different perspective of understanding, but still can – and will want to be – involved. “My kiddos loved interacting with my IPs as much as they did their baby. My kids would update my IPs during skypes when they helped tag along on at a doctor’s appointment and loved sharing what favorite Disney song they were singing to the baby that week. I have to admit, when my kiddos shared the current song for the week was ‘You’ll Be in My Heart’ from Tarzan, there were some tugs at my heartstrings!”
Older children may take a more relaxed approach to the surrogacy experience. One surrogate recently shared how her older son was apprehensive at first but became engrossed in the science of surrogacy itself and created a project talking about surrogacy and IVF and the science behind it. Doing his own research helped him come to a greater understanding of the surrogacy process itself. Through this understanding, he grew to have his own love for surrogacy. We all secretly wondered if she had a future reproductive endocrinologist on her hands!
Keeping them involved after the birth of the baby.
Most surrogates wonder if there will be a feeling of loss or attachment after a surrogacy pregnancy for their children. Heather found the opposite to be true: “While my children enjoyed being a part of caring for the baby during pregnancy, they understood the relationship was different than from their own siblings. After delivery, they were ready to see the baby off to embark on his life with his parents and return to the normal day to day of their own lives. Continuing to speak with our IPs, and updating them with our routines and goings on has really helped established this extended family of sorts, and my children still love being updated and talking about the amazing adventure surrogacy was!”
Like every surrogacy journey is different, every child is different. You know your child best, how they learn and accept new situations and change. Knowing the importance of involving them will help you determine the right way – and time – to bring them into the experience. Many children gain a sense of protector for the baby their mother is carrying, and others see their role as nurturer. The best advice is to be open and honest with them, and show them the wonderful thing you are doing for another family.