If you are considering being a surrogate mother for a family dealing with infertility, you may be curious about what to tell your own children about surrogacy. Whether you have one child or a few, they may have questions.
Ahead of Time
The best time to explaining surrogacy to a child is before you start IVF treatment. Once you know you will take this journey, you have a chance to prepare your children for the next few months. Here’s how:
- Tell your kids about reproduction: The first step is to make sure your children understand, in age-appropriate language, where children come from. They need to comprehend the changes to your body. As you review this information, explain that not everyone can have a child on their own.
- Explain surrogacy in words they understand: Tell young children that sometimes one person carries a baby for another family because not everyone can carry their own child. Older children can understand more details about infertility. In either case, your kids may not need to know about IVF or all the details, but avoid talking down to them.
- Read books about it: A good way to start the conversation is to read children’s books about surrogacy. “The Kangaroo Pouch: A story about surrogacy for young children” by Sarah Phillips Pellet is a good book. “The Very Kind Koala: A Surrogacy Story for Children” by Kimberly Kluger-Bell and “My Mom is a Surrogate” by Abigail Glass and Riley Robertson are two other examples. You may also want to look at videos together from families who got to experience parenthood, thanks to surrogacy. This helps explain the process in kid-friendly language and stories.
- Talk about other people’s reactions: Keep in mind your children will not just hear from you. Friends at school or on the playground may make assumptions about pregnancy and not know about surrogacy. Discuss how your child can talk to others about surrogacy. You may want to gift your children with child-appropriate books they can gift with friends or talk to your children’s school about discussing surrogacy. Some teachers might welcome a picture book about the topic for storytime.
During the Process
As your body goes through changes and you go to doctor’s appointments, your children will adjust to the reality of pregnancy. You may not be able to play as much or have to slow down as you take care of your body. There are several ways you can help your family adapt to this change:
- Introduce your children to the intended parents, if possible: If the intended parents are okay with it, you may want to ask whether your children can meet them. It can be powerful for your kids to see that the baby you are carrying is going to a nice family who will love the baby. This can help ease younger kids’ fears even if they cannot fully articulate them.
- Handle any questions that might come up: While you likely have discussed surrogacy multiple times, keep the conversation going. New questions can come up all the time with curious kids. At this stage, children may wonder why the baby is not their brother or sister or why the baby and the intended parents can’t all live at your home. This is a good time to remind your kids that you are carrying the baby, but the intended parents will be the baby’s parents.
- Let kids help: Children like to be part of everything, and by taking part in the situation, they can learn. Talk to them about healthy foods you need to eat for the baby and have them “help” you decide what would be healthiest. You can show them pictures of the intended family and their home if the intended parents agree.
- Create closure: Once children get used to the idea of a baby, they still need to understand that the baby will not be coming home with you. It can be a good idea for kids to create a “congratulations” card for the intended parents or write a letter to the family. This can help create a sense of healthy closure.
- Check in with them: As you focus on the physical part of being pregnant and carrying the baby to term, you will want to keep an eye on your kids. Are they adjusting well? If they are having trouble sleeping or are acting out, sit down with them to talk. They may have more questions or concerns.
After the Surrogacy Process
Even after the surrogacy process, kids may have lingering questions. They may wonder whether they will ever see the baby, something that depends on how close you are with the intended parents. They may wonder whether you will have another surrogate pregnancy, if everyone has a surrogacy pregnancy or how frequent infertility is. This is an opportunity to discuss your plans, as well as some medical facts while offering reassurance.
Are You Ready for the Surrogacy Process?
Sharing your surrogacy journey with your kids can be a great experience for them, teaching them about generosity, family and helping others. Your children can learn about the process of becoming a family and the different options for building families today. Being honest and including them can even help your children become more compassionate to those who come from non-traditional families. In the future, it could inspire them to help others and be more selfless.
If you are interested in becoming a surrogate to help a family experience the gift of parenthood, Western Fertility Institute is a supportive and welcoming solution. If you’re ready to become a surrogate, you can apply online now. We will reach out to you to guide you through the process.