Explaining Surrogacy to a Child
At Circle Surrogacy, we love to hear stories about surrogates talking to their kids about surrogacy. These stories from women in Boston, San Francisco, New York, and around the world range from heartwarming to hilarious and everything in between.
In celebration of Spring Experienced Carrier Week, we asked our surrogates to tell us how they first explained the situation to their kids, how they kept them involved throughout their journey, the funny stories of their kids telling others how their mom “is having somebody else’s baby,” and advice for new surrogates when telling their kids about surrogacy. Talking to kids about surrogacy doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. As you’ll hear from our surrogates, a lot of the time, kids understand more than we think! And as a study published in Human Reproduction showed, kids of surrogate mothers adjust well.
We asked—they answered. See how our surrogates answered our questions about talking to kids about surrogacy.
How did you first explain it to them?
There are tons of resources available to surrogates to help prepare them for talking to kids about surrogacy, but every situation is different. Here is what our surrogates had to say:
- “My husband and I sat down with them and explained the process. With our two eldest they understood better then Addy. With Addy I had to explain more than once, but with continued explanation she understood quite well. – Brittiney, Current Circle Surrogate
- “My kid’s ages range from 3-14, so explaining it so everyone understands was a little tricky. We told them our plan as soon as it was confirmed we were cleared and would be moving forward. We didn’t want to surprise them with a pregnancy, rather prepare them. We are a fairly large family of 8, so I think they were a little relieved to know the baby wasn’t ours to keep. I run a daycare, so one way I explained it was it’s like babysitting. I take care of it and keep it safe while it grows, but then the parents will take it home. The baby was made then put inside me, so it has no relation to us. They all just listened, asked a few questions as to who the parents were and excepted it, shrugged and moved on with normal life. My youngest needs reminders that mommy has a baby in her belly, but I don’t think he fully grasps the situation. I expect once I start to show more they will all have that daily reminder, but for now I don’t think its something they even think about unless reminded.” – Emmie, Circle Surrogate
- “My children are 4 and 2, so it wasn’t very hard to explain it to them because young children only know what you tell them. So, if you make it seem normal, then they won’t think otherwise. We talked to them a lot about how we were going to help a family that wanted a baby but couldn’t have one. We even read them a book called “My Mom is a Surrogate” (by Abigail Glass) and that really helped to explain things. ” – Heather, Circle Surrogate
- “I am always very upfront with my children and let them know from the very beginning what was I doing. My first journey, my son was still a toddler, so he only ever knew there was a baby in my belly and that it was my going home with my IPs. My daughter was 6/7 years old at the time and was able to understand that I was helping a family that couldn’t have a baby the normal way and that the baby was not related to us in any way and that the baby was going home with his parents. My children are a few years older this time around and I was able to explain a bit more to my son about what is happening, although he keeps asking if it is my actual IPs in my belly.” – Tiffany, Current Circle Surrogate
- “I first told Addison about both my journey once pregnancy heartbeat was confirmed and I was at least 10 weeks along. I didn’t want to tell her about something I was doing until we were passed that point to avoid any confusion if something happened.” – Diana, 2x Circle Surrogate
- “When I started my first surrogacy journey, my boys were turning 6 and turning 2. My almost 6-year-old son had always been very mature for his age so I felt it was necessary to tell him what was happening and why it was happening. We are a very open family and I didn’t feel it was necessary to hide something so beautiful from him. I didn’t have to really explain anything to my youngest because he was just too young to comprehend anything. My IFs, my husband, and I all agreed that this journey wasn’t just for us. My IFs wanted my boys involved as well which really made our experience so special. I told my son everything that was happening from the very beginning.” – Nicole, Current Circle Surrogate
- “At first we explained to our kids that I was going to help another family be able to have a baby. We explained that not all family’s look the same, and we have the opportunity to help another family be able to have their own children too. Because I was matched with a gay couple, it was pretty easy for my kids to understand. They get that boys can’t grow babies in their tummies, and asked “but where’s the mom?” to which we replied that I would be the mom that grew the baby in my tummy. They were a little sad about not getting to have the baby come home with us, but we explained that our family is complete and we aren’t going to have any more kids, so we want to help another family have the same chance. They were very supportive after understanding that.” – Whitney, Circle Surrogate
- “My oldest is 13 so I told her first. Told her about the process and what I was doing. I coach her cheer team so I also told those girls since I wouldn’t be able to help with stunts anymore. They were very excited! My younger kids I read a book Sophia’s Broken Crayons ( the same book I read my class). They loved to rub my belly and ask questions about the dads. My 8-year-old wanted to learn more about Norway ( where the dads are from)” – Ashley, Circle Surrogate
What ways did you include them in your journey? Skype calls? Gender reveals?
- “The girls were very involved from the beginning. They Skyped with us each time, we met our IPs for the first time in Chicago and we had a wonderful time. Our IPs spent Christmas with us and our extended families! They are like uncles to my girls now. We are so thankful to have them in our lives.” – Brittiney
- “We Skype with our IPs frequently. The kids like to pop their heads in and say hello. I think the IPs really enjoy their involvement. The kids all know who they are by name.” – Emmie
- “Our children were always around for our Skype calls. Our IPs are from France and because of the 6 hour time difference, our Skype calls were always Sunday at 9:30 am. That meant our kids were climbing on us, playing, wrestling, and screaming in the background 😂. Our kids often participated in the calls and knew our IPs by name. Our IPs were so sweet to them and brought them gifts when they came to visit before I gave birth. Our daughters also met their son and got to hold him ♥️” – Heather
- “My children were/are on most of our Skype calls. Partly because they won’t do as they are told and play quietly and partly because they can sometimes break up the awkwardness in the initial Skype calls. My first journey, there was a bit of a language barrier, so they always could fill any awkward silences or make my IPs laugh with something silly they were doing. This journey, I have a much stronger bond with my domestic IPs, so I let the kids say hello and talk for a few minutes, then send them outside so the grownups can talk.” – Tiffany
- “Addie was involved in the majority of my Skype calls with both parents. With my first journey, she was involved in the gender reveal. The dads for this last journey came out for a couple weeks last June and we all spent all that time together and she grew really close to them. I feel in a way her and I connected better with the 2nd journey parents maybe because we had many more things in common, always had something to talk about, and got to actually spend time with them in the middle of the journey and not just at delivery.” – Diana
- “Both of my boys would join us for the Facetimes with our IFs (which we still try to do weekly). For our anatomy scan, none of us knew what the baby was so my IFs flew to our city to come to the appointment so we could find out together, and we did at the ultrasound. My son was in school during our appointment so we surprised him after school with a giant balloon filled with confetti. We wanted to something fun for my oldest because he was so involved and loved everything about the surrogacy. Our IFs watched as he popped the balloon to find out the gender. My son and I both thought that I was carrying a girl, but we were so wrong. It was such a fun experience for him and made him feel involved. We have visited our IFs many times now and our boys love seeing their little friend that was a part of their lives for a time!” – Nicole
- “We included them in several Skype calls and they were able to get to know the intended parents. They also helped me pick out some gifts for the baby, and got to come meet up with the IPs and their toddler when they came to visit for the ultrasound appointments. We also had dinner together in our home once the IPs arrived ahead of time for the delivery. My kids loved the chance to get to interact with them and play with their toddler!” – Whitney
Any funny stories of how your children explained the surrogacy to others?
- “They have told all of their friends and teachers! They are so excited for everyone to know that their mom is carrying a baby for another family.” – Brittiney
- “We told them individually when I was confirmed pregnant. The one that sticks out is my 14-year-old’s reaction. It had been 6 months since we told them initially. He responded with, “Ah, so that’s why you’ve been getting fat…” we both laughed while I had a look of shock. After explaining that was kinda rude, since it was too early for me to show. He genuinely felt bad saying he didn’t mean it like that. My 6 yr old had a small argument with the neighbor girl when she told her I was pregnant but it wasn’t ours, the neighbor hadn’t ever heard of surrogacy, so my daughter had a hard time convincing her she was telling the truth. My other kids (10, 11, 12) have mentioned they have told people at school. Not sure how those conversations have gone. To be a fly on the wall.” – Emmie
- “One day I brought my girls to Target and they were being a little crazy (loud and getting in/out of the cart). I was very visibly pregnant and the cashier said, “You’re going to have your hands full when that baby comes”. Before I could say anything my 4-year-old said, “We’re not keeping him.” I almost peed my pants laughing because the look on the cashier’s face was priceless.” – Heather
- “My son’s school teachers would come up to me in the pick-up line to let me know how cool they thought what I was doing was because my son would tell his friends about what was happening. It was so sweet. He wasn’t embarrassed, he was proud.” – Nicole
- “I’ve heard several funny stories and got lots of calls from friends asking for an explanation, haha! My oldest would say that I’m pregnant, but it’s actually not our baby, it’s somebody else’s. The best was actually when my husband would tell people. He got quite the kick out of the reactions! Someone would ask me about the gender or ask my kids about their “little sibling” and he would chime in and say, “Oh, it’s not our baby.” We got lots of hilarious looks! The best was when a woman in church asked me in the middle of class if I was pregnant or just had a baby (I was about 10 weeks along and didn’t feel well-I also didn’t like being asked that question 🙄) so my husband went and sat next to her and whispered, “She’s pregnant. But it’s not mine.” Watching her jaw hit the floor made me giggle. He of course explained, but let her experience her reaction for a few seconds before going on.” – Whitney
Any advice you’d give to carriers who are planning to or haven’t yet told their children about the journey?
- “Be honest and open. Explain any question they have. Incorporate books if needed. I know there are some that focus on surrogacy that do a wonderful job especially for younger children.” – Brittiney
- “I feel like children of all ages need time to prepare. Let them ask all their questions. I think by telling the kids our intentions beforehand helped them except the news that I’m pregnant.” – Emmie
- “My advice is, don’t make it a big deal and neither will they. We were positive about it and made it seem like something every family does. We made it all about helping another family and talked to them about ways they can help out during the process. They loved being included. I’m sure when they’re older they will ask more questions about it, but we will always be open and honest to them.” – Heather
- “I find that honesty is the best policy. I never could have kept something like this from them and wouldn’t want to. They are obviously such an important part of my life, I feel like if I couldn’t involve them in the journey, I wouldn’t have gotten as much out of the experience. I love that my children were able to meet people from a different part of the world and learn about their traditions and culture during my first journey and now with 2nd journey, they have made a new friend in my IPs’ 7 yr old daughter. We were able to go to Disney together when they visited for the anatomy scan and that would not have been possible if I decided not to share this with them.” – Tiffany
- “Any advice you’d give to carriers who are planning to or haven’t yet told their children about the journey. Just be honest with them about your feelings for why you chose to be a surrogate and explain to them that what us woman can do is amazing when it involves carrying another child for someone else and ask them how they feel about it and if they understand. There are so many children’s books out there that explain to them in a way that they will even understand better.” – Diana
- “My advice to those deciding when the right time to tell their children about surrogacy would be that only you know your children and what they can understand. I found that by explaining everything to my son and including him in our journey made him more comfortable with it. I also used it as a learning experience to teach him about all the variations of normal for families in hopes that he will stand up for those around him that may be different.The biggest thing I could say is that including everyone in the journey rather than just myself made the experience so so special and one we all will never forget.” – Nicole
- “The advice I would give is to be very open with them about it. Explain it as well as you can in-depth, age appropriately according to their knowledge level. Ask them how they feel about it and validate their feelings, even if it’s negative and they don’t like the idea And include them as much as you can. Let them feel your tummy, and see the ultrasound pictures. Skype or FaceTime with them when you go for the embryo transfer and have to be gone for a couple of days. Bring them home a little trinket from your trip. It’s a sacrifice for them too, and I know I personally never wanted them to resent this journey. Lastly, I FaceTimed with my kids while I was in the hospital after having the baby so they could “meet” him and see him. It made it all “real” for them, and I think gave them some closure at the end.” – Whitney
As you can see from the experiences that our surrogates have had, talking to kids about surrogacy doesn’t need to be scary or overwhelming. Based on the advice from all of our surrogates, honesty is the best policy, and kids understand more than we think. If you’re thinking about how to go about talking to kids about surrogacy, keep the advice of these experienced carriers top of mind. These amazing women have been through it, and are excited to be able to share that experience and advice with you!