If you’ve decided to be a surrogate and already have a family of your own, you may be curious or concerned about sharing the news with your children.
It is an important and special lesson in compassion and love that will shape all of your lives, however, it doesn’t need to be a daunting experience! Here are a few tips from surrogates regarding preparing their family for the big event:
Introducing the Pregnancy and Surrogacy Process
For many children, your surrogacy will be their first long-term interaction with pregnancy. Explaining your surrogacy may need to be prefaced with an age-appropriate explanation about pregnancy itself. In short, letting them know that your body will be changing so that you can have a baby will be the first task to tick off.
In regards to surrogacy, many women have opted to use the “babysitting” analogy, as it is something most children can relate to easily. Just like a friend or family member may look after them while you are away for a while, you are helping another family take care of their baby until they are able to take it home with them. In turn, just as their babysitter has their own family to go home to, the baby you are caring for will be leaving to live with their new parent(s).
This is also a helpful analogy for a common concern that goes many children’s minds, as they may have the fear that if THIS child is going to live with a different family, they may be given away too. Using the babysitter example can assure them as you always come home to them and love them dearly, the IP (intended parents) are excited to have their baby with them as soon as they can. Emphasize that you are doing a big favor for a family that needs your help and that you wouldn’t leave them with someone else forever.
Meeting the (Intended) Parents
Introducing the IP is a great way to easily integrate your child into the “new side” of your growing family—plan a dinner or event so they can speak to them in person, or let them write letters or make phone calls when you give your own updates. Having everyone interact together makes it easy and fun for all parties!
Taking photos or having them draw pictures to send to the IP creates both beautiful mementos and fun memories as well. Additionally, allowing your child to help pick out gifts or write cards for the baby and their new family throughout the pregnancy are great ways to get them involved in the process.
Maintaining the Status Quo
As all parents know, children require routine and reassurance to stay healthy and happy. Your surrogacy will cause changes to your family’s day-to-day routine, as you make time for appointments and check-ups. However, as with any change, as long as you, the parent, remain positive and excited, kids tend to follow suit. Keep calm and carry on as usual, and when the baby comes up in conversation, don’t be afraid to share how much this experience means to you and the family you are helping.
Your children will probably have questions – maybe even a LOT of questions – and will want to know as much as they can. These questions may come up at inopportune times, or be on a subject matter you may not have expected. Some surrogacy situations may involve explaining LGBT relationships (if you are carrying for an LGBT family) or may inspire a more in-depth discussion of reproduction for older kids. Younger children may need to hear answers several times before they stick.
What’s important is to keep your children as informed as possible; answer their questions, and explain the process often, thoroughly, and in language they can understand. There are books on surrogacy for adults as well as children to help, and learning together is a great opportunity to bond.
When the baby comes, it will be a touching and emotional time for all involved, including your little one. Allow your child to visit you in the hospital, and perhaps take time for them to say their own goodbyes. With assistance, even younger children can hold the baby and wish it well before it is passed on to their new parent(s). Saying hello, farewell, and watching the baby be with their family can give your child the emotional release needed before returning to their old routine.
Once you’ve taken your own time to recover, spend some quality one-on-one with your child, and let them know that you appreciated their love and understanding. Thank them for being a great helper, and tell them you can’t wait to spend time together like you used to– some families even celebrate with a dinner or party.