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Explaining Surrogacy to Children

Explaining surrogacy to children can be a complex and sensitive conversation. It's important to approach this topic with empathy, honesty, and age-appropriate language. This conversation requires careful consideration, as it can evoke a range of emotions and questions. Here are some key points to consider:

Family with two boys sitting on a couch

Timing and Setting: Some surrogates will decide to tell their children once matched, some will wait until transfer, and some even wait until heartbeat confirmation. It can be helpful to think about where your children are in their own development when deciding what the right time is for you to have the conversation. Choose a time and place where your children feel comfortable and safe. Ensure there are no distractions, and you have plenty of time to talk.

Simple and Honest Explanation: Use age-appropriate language to explain surrogacy. You might say, "Mommy is going to help another family have a baby because they can't do it on their own. I will carry the baby for them, but it won't be our baby."

Addressing Emotions: Acknowledge your children's feelings and reassure them that it's okay to feel confused, sad, or even excited. Let them know that your love for them remains unchanged.

Encouraging Questions: Invite your children to ask questions. Be prepared to answer honestly and patiently, focusing on their understanding and comfort level.

Reassurance and Support: Emphasize that this decision doesn't change your family's love or dynamics. Reassure them that you will be there for them throughout the process.

Stuffed kangaroo sitting on a children's book
Children's book shared by a current CS Surrogate

Use Resources: There are many resources out there to aid when explaining surrogacy to children. For younger children there are illustrative books that can be helpful to read. For older children, there are videos, blogs, and higher-level books if they wish to learn more about the process.

Follow-Up: Check in with your children regularly to see how they're feeling and if they have any new questions or concerns. Be open to ongoing conversations.

How We Explained To Our Children

As previous surrogates, the Collective Surrogacy coordinators have all had experiences having this conversation with their very own children and here's how it went:

Diane: Throughout my 2 journeys my 4 kids were as young as 1 and as old as 12. With 4 kiddos I had quite the range of discussions! We discussed that the baby was not ours, that it was being created by doctors and then put into Mommy by the doctors. We explained that we were just the oven, just babysitting. My oldest, who was 7, asked, "Well, won't that be sad to give our baby away". I paused, a little concerned, and said "If it was our baby, then yes, that would be sad; but this is their baby, not ours", to which he quickly replied, "Oh, OK!

Julia: My son was 3 during my first journey and didn't really care to ask questions as he was preoccupied with monster trucks and super heroes at the time. For my 2nd journey he was 5 and we sat him down for an open and honest conversation. He asked, "Are we going to keep this one?" To which I replied "No, there was a special family who the baby belonged to." He accepted this and went about his day concerned more about what was for lunch.

Meriel: Telling my children was very similar to my colleagues. My children accepted that I was helping another family and had absolutely no desire to bring another sibling home. When I asked again recently what it was like having me be a surrogate, my eldest who was 7 when I first started on my path towards being a surrogate and 15 when I delivered my last surrogacy pregnancy, stated “When I was younger, it wasn’t strange but felt like an exciting secret. Once I was older and understood why you were doing it, my perspective changed. It taught me about selflessness."

Overall, it has been our experience that children respond very positively and feel comfortable with surrogacy even if they don't have the words to express it as eloquently as adults. When a conversation is communicated honestly and openly, children have the opportunity to explore and share their feelings and their ability to accept what we consider complex ideas can sometimes surprise us.

Lastly, it is important to remember, every family is unique, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach to discussing surrogacy with your children. The key is to approach the conversation with empathy, honesty, and a willingness to listen.

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