This blog was written by Circle Surrogate Jeni Denhof.
Almost every surrogate has one thing in common. We all have children of our own. We have been pregnant with – and delivered – babies that we do get to bring home from the hospital. Babies that we love, feed, clothe, bathe, cuddle and diaper; and before we know it, they’re not really babies anymore. They’re children. Children who at some point in their lives learn that their Mommy is going to be pregnant with a baby that won’t be coming home to live with them. It begs the question – how do the children of surrogates cope with a surrogacy journey?
I am quite certain I will never forget the moment I sat each of my girls down to talk to them about the possibility of me becoming a surrogate. At the time, my girls were nine and five years old. I began with Skyler, my nine year old, and shared with her that I really wanted to help another family have a baby. I explained to her that the baby would belong to the intended parents, both genetically and physically. I gently told her that we would be in charge of growing the baby and keeping it safe until it was ready to be born. I gave her as many details as I thought a typical nine year old could process… and then she proceeded to cry. I was prepared for this moment.
“Are you crying because you’re scared?” I asked her. I had assumed she would be frightened. I could understand how the idea of surrogacy might be frightening to a little girl.
“No Mom. I’m crying because that’s the nicest thing you could do for someone.”
Wow! I wasn’t prepared for this reaction. My nine year old UNDERSTOOD! She, too, could see what a beautiful gift surrogacy truly was. The amount of pride I felt at this moment was indescribable.
I knew that my five year old was probably too young to completely grasp the concept of surrogacy, so I planned to keep it simple: “The Dr. will put someone else’s baby in Mommy’s tummy and Mommy will grow the baby until it’s ready to be born and go home with its parents. The baby will not come home with us.”
“Ok.” Savannah seemed too casual. I wanted to be sure she understood.
“The baby won’t be related to us. It will be their baby.”
I felt the need to continue to confirm that she understood.
“Mommy will go to the hospital when the baby is ready to be born and then the parents will take the baby home with them.”
“I get it Mom!”
You’ve got to love a 5 year old and their willingness to go with the flow, and let you know when they’ve “got it.” Well, since she “got it”, perhaps this was a good time to broach another topic.
“The agency is going to make sure that we are matched with the perfect parents.”
“And that might mean that we are matched with a Mommy and a Daddy, or maybe we’ll be matched with a Daddy and a Daddy.”
Savannah jerks her head so that her eyes meet mine. Ah-ha! Now I’ve got her attention!
“A Daddy and a Daddy?”
“Yes!” I cheerfully reply.
“Like, are they married?”
Pause. Pause. Pause.
“Kind of!” I say with a big smile.
“Like, do they kiss?” She asks with sincere curiosity.
“Yes, of course!” I answer matter of fact.
Pause. Pause. Pause. Savannah has a cute grin, bounces up and down a bit, and slightly shrugs her shoulders.
Could it be? Yes, I think so. My five year old, albeit from a totally different perspective, also understood the beauty of surrogacy.
As a family, we were all keeping our fingers crossed that our transfer would be successful and if we were extra lucky, successful x 2! We definitely were not above using good luck charms. In fact, upon learning that the colors green and yellow are said to be lucky during IVF, Skyler made bracelets for the entire transfer “team”. It warmed my heart to know that my children wanted to be part of the team, felt like they were a part of the team, WERE a part of the team. Together, we would soon learn that the team was successful. Successful x 2!
At one point during our pregnancy, my IPs Farid and George were here in Denver visiting. Our family had picked them up from their downtown hotel and we were able to enjoy a nice dinner together. Later that night, after dropping the guys off at their hotel, the car was quiet as we made our way home. Savannah broke the silence.
“It’s really cool, Mom. George and Farid are the first family I know where the Daddy loves the Daddy.”
It was at this moment that I realized this surrogacy journey we were all on…it was big. It was so much bigger than any of us realized. This journey was teaching my children very important life lessons.
During our pregnancy, Skyler and Savannah responded the same way they would have had the babies belonged to us. They spent a great deal of time talking to and “playing” with the babies. There were bets taking place on how long it would be before the girls could no longer fit their arms around my belly when we would hug. My kids found it incredibly entertaining to tease me about the grunts and sighs I would make while trying to get out of bed, out of the car, my goodness even out of a chair! All the while, I knew without a doubt that Skyler and Savannah were very clear about the fact that although our family was experiencing this wonderful pregnancy on a daily basis, the ultimate goal was to see these babies that we had all grown to love, in the arms of their daddies.
Sure enough, when it came time for the babies to be born, Skyler and Savannah were all smiles. The moment we had all been waiting for had finally arrived! We had done our job well. We had grown two babies – a boy and a girl – and now those babies were ready to be born and go home with their parents. Skyler and Savannah had been waiting many months for this moment. They absolutely couldn’t wait to see the twins with their Daddies.
During those final moments of our journey, I could not only see, but also feel the love, joy and pride that my girls felt for this new family. That love, joy and pride remains to this day and I imagine will stay with them for a lifetime.
How do the children of surrogates cope with a surrogacy journey? For Skyler and Savannah, the journey was less about coping and more about thriving. This journey allowed our family to bond together in a common goal. It provided us with that wonderful feeling we all get when we do something that we feel extremely proud of. It was an opportunity for us to grow and learn about equality and complete acceptance.
Most importantly, this journey allowed us to give someone else what we already felt so incredibly grateful for…the gift of family.