Choosing to be a surrogate mother for a loving family that is unable to have children is the most wonderful gift anyone could give. One of the qualifications for being a surrogate is that you have already given birth. Since you have given birth before this means that you have children of your own. This is a new and exciting journey for you along with the child’s family-to-be. During this journey you are embarking on you will need to tell your family and children that you will be a surrogate for another family. Talking to your children about your new life adventure to be a surrogate mother can feel overwhelming and scary at the moment. You might even be more afraid to tell your children than your friends and family members. You can help relieve this feeling by preparing yourself for the discussion by doing research and talking with fellow surrogate mothers who have gone through this experience.
Take it slow in the beginning don’t rush into the conversation, slowly introduce the children to the topic. Doing so it will not overwhelm the children and give them a chance to start thinking about what you are trying to tell them. For younger children between 2 and 8 years old, a great way to introduce the topic to them is by reading a book to them about surrogacy. By reading to them they will relate to the characters in the stories and will help them understand what is going on in their life. After you are done reading the books, bring up that you might want to help another family have a baby someday and ask your children what they would think of that; this is the perfect gateway for introducing them to your journey!
When speaking with your children remember to keep it age appropriate. Older children in their teens will have a better understanding of the situation as their school should have taught them about the birds and the bees, also known as human reproduction. This makes it a little easier to talk to them since they will have a better understanding of the situation. All Children are going to have a plethora of questions to ask you since they are all so curious. Encouraging them to ask their questions will help them to feel like you are not shutting them out, and making them a part of the process. The best thing you can do while answering their questions is to be open and honest with them about the process. By talking about your journey and answering their questions this will help normalize the situation and it will make them feel involved. Normalizing the situation for the children is important, you do not want them to feel different, unimportant or that this is a bad experience. Make them feel as comfortable as they need to help guide them through the journey.
Emphasize your excitement about giving the gift of life to a family who can't conceive a child on their own. When the children see you're happy and excited it will help them search their feelings to express how they feel. Even though they see how very excited you are the children might handle it very differently. Do not get upset with them if they do not agree; accept all the emotions that the child is feeling. This is normal for them to get emotional as they are trying to understand this new journey you are embarking on. To keep the lines of communication open, talk to them about each step of the process as you are experiencing it. Communication is key, children go through emotions like a mini roller coaster and want to be noticed and loved. Always remind them that you love them and you will always be here for them.
Preparing children for after birth; for younger children, they might get really excited about becoming an older brother or sister. You will need to gently explain to them that the baby will not be coming home with you. The baby will be going to its new family's house. They might feel that you will be giving them away also. Reassure them as much as possible that they are not going anywhere and they will still stay at home with you. Since the baby will not be coming home with you, this may leave the children with an empty feeling. For them to feel connected to the baby, you could have them draw pictures of your family with the baby. Maybe bring them to the toy store to pick out a very special toy for the baby from them. This will leave the children with the feeling that they are connected to the baby without the baby living with them.
Each and every surrogacy journey is different. Your journey is ultimately yours and it is for you to choose, when, how and whom you share this experience with. Giving the gift of life is no small gesture. This is a life-changing event for everyone involved. Keeping your children in the loop of your journey will make it an even better experience. With their love and support behind you, you can do this!
Here are a few book suggestions that younger children can relate to;
1. The Kangaroo Pouch- Introduces young children, ages 2-to-8, to the concept of surrogacy. The story is narrated by a young kangaroo named Oliver whose mother has decided to help another family have a baby. The Kangaroo Pouch gently guides the reader on the surrogacy journey and answers questions they may have such as, why would someone choose to be a surrogate? What will family life be like during the pregnancy? And most importantly, what happens when the surrogate-baby is born and given back to their biological parents?
2. The Very Kind Kola- a charming picture book for young children which provides an introduction to surrogacy through the simple story of a koala bear and her husband who needed the help of a very kind koala to carry their baby in her pouch. Parents can begin reading this story to children as young as 3 years of age to begin the dialog about their own helpful surrogacy.
3. Sophia’s Broken Crayons- Book for young children, recommended for children ages 2 to 6 years old which tells a story of surrogacy from a young child’s perspective in a practical way that children can understand and grasp. Follow the story of Sophia as she learns about sharing and helping out friends in need as well as why moms and dads choose surrogates to help grow their families and why surrogates choose to help other families that way.
4. Growing In Another Garden- Introduces young children, ages 2 years old to 8 years old, to surrogacy. Follow the story of Mikey and his family as he learns about the unique way he was born into a loving family – through the kindness of a surrogate. Join with him discovers that “sometimes the sweetest and most beautiful creations are grown in another garden.” Mikey’s story helps to explain why some families choose surrogates to help grow their families and why surrogates choose to help other families that way.