Kids are naturally curious, especially when it comes to how they came to be. This curiosity is a way for them to better understand the world they were brought into, but it often leads to them asking pretty challenging questions to parents, which can be even more challenging for parents who had children through gestational surrogacy.
“Where did I come from? Where do all babies come from? How are babies made?”
These are questions that can stump any parent, nevertheless one who started a family through non-traditional means. For a parent of a child born through surrogacy, it can be difficult to explain the birds and the bees (or worse, have someone else tell them about it first) and then try to end the discussion with, “…But, wait, that’s not how you came to be.”
Someday, your child will probably ask you that age-old question, and you will have the opportunity to tell them their role in your surrogacy journey. It’s important to be prepared to answer any questions your children may have so you can not only teach them, but also empower and inspire them through the story of how they came into this world.
The best way to prepare to tell your child that they were carried by a surrogate is exactly that: prepare, prepare, prepare. Gather as many artifacts as you can to use as visuals to tell the story of how your child came to be. This can include:
- Photographs of you and your surrogate (depending on your relationship with them) throughout the surrogacy journey, including belly photos, pictures of important milestones, etc.
- A scrapbook of above-mentioned pictures and other mementos
- A blog or journal where you record your thoughts and experiences throughout the surrogacy journey.
- There are also many childrens books that explain surrogacy on their level
So, once you feel prepared enough to tell your child about the surrogacy journey, what age is most appropriate to do so?
The choice of when you talk about surrogacy to your child is up to you. When you choose to tell your child about your surrogacy journey will depend on how mature your child is, among other factors. You may feel that you want to wait for the “perfect moment” to tell them. While the choice is up to you, just know that, oftentimes, the earlier you talk to them about it, the better. It’s good for children to learn about where they came from while they are still young and figuring out the rest of the world.
A lot of times, it’s easier to talk to younger children about surrogacy, as you typically don’t have to explain as much as you would to an older child who may have more complex questions. By telling them about their surrogacy journey early, your children are also more likely to accept it and view it as a natural part of their life. Framing the story in a way that makes them feel special can also help your child develop their identity in a more positive and meaningful way as they get older.
Telling Your Child’s Surrogacy Story
You can be flexible with how you approach telling your child about how they came to be. You can start by telling them where babies come from traditionally, then talk about how some families are not always able to make a baby this way. What’s most important during these initial discussions is that you highlight how families come in different shapes and sizes, that there are many different ways to make a family, and that that’s what makes everyone special and unique.
From there, you can talk more about your specific child’s journey. You don’t have to say that something was “wrong” or that something was “broken,” and that’s why you chose surrogacy. You can simply say that your family just needed some extra help to make everything work. You can say that surrogacy is one way that families make a baby, and that’s okay.
As you tell your child their story, you can add in little details here and there that make the journey special and unique to your child. You can talk to your child about how they made the surrogate want to eat pickles for breakfast, the dreams you had while your child was growing in your surrogate’s belly, or what you felt when you saw your child’s face for the first time. All of these small details will help cement your child’s understanding of how they came to be, even if they’re too young to really comprehend it. In the long run, it will encourage your child to develop their identity.
Don’t shy away from talking about it as your child grows. Always be open to answering their questions. Include your child in conversations you have about surrogacy and other ways people grow their families. Also, find ways to incorporate surrogacy into your child’s life. Depending on your relationship with your surrogate, you may even be able to maintain a relationship with them, which can help your child understand things better. You may be surprised to see how helpful it can be for a child to put a face to the surrogate who carried them to make those meaningful connections with their surrogacy journey.
Overall, it can be intimidating to think about telling your child how they came to be through surrogacy. However, that story is an important part of their identity and how they see and interpret the world. Use this opportunity to tell them about their surrogacy journey to make them feel proud of their origins and their identity, as well as to help them develop a more open mind on how families are made.