When you’re considering becoming a gestational carrier, you may be unsure of how your children will respond to your news. You may be hopeful that they will share your excitement to help bring a child into the world — but explaining to them that child is not their sibling can get a bit confusing.
Don’t worry, because American Surrogacy is here to help. When you work with our agency, our surrogacy specialists can help you prepare for this conversation with tips and suggestions. We know having the support of your entire immediate family is important — kids included.
Remember, you can always talk to your surrogacy specialist anytime by calling her at 1-800-875-BABY(2229). But, in the meantime, here are some common questions you might get from your child during your surrogacy journey — and how to respond to them in an age-appropriate way.
1. “What is surrogacy?”
This will likely be the first question you receive from your child as you inform them of your surrogacy decision. Your answer will vary based on your child’s understanding of the reproductive process and how much information you want to give them.
Our suggestion? Try something short and simple. Most children will accept complicated concepts easily; over-explaining might only make things worse.
“Surrogacy is a way that Mommy can help someone else become parents. The people who I’m working with really want to have a baby, but they can’t because the mom’s tummy is broken/the dad(s) can’t carry a baby like I can. So, they’re going to make the baby themselves, and put it in Mommy’s tummy until the baby is old enough to be born. Then, the baby will go home with his or her parents!”
2. “Why can’t the baby be in their mommy’s tummy?”
Infertility can be a tough conversation for any adult to have. Explaining it to children can be easier or harder, depending on your child’s level of understanding.
“Sometimes, some women’s tummies don’t work the way Mommy’s does. They want really badly to be pregnant with their baby, but sometimes they need a little help from people like me.”
On the other hand, if you are carrying for an LGBT couple or a single man, you can take this opportunity to explain to your child about alternative ways people build families, if they can’t conceive naturally:
“You know how I’ve told you how people who want a baby very much can have one together? They don’t have to be just a mom and a dad. I’m carrying for two men who really want to have a baby, but they don’t have a woman to be pregnant for their baby. So, I volunteered!”
Similarly, you can say: “Even though the dad I’m carrying for hasn’t found someone to have a baby with, he still wants to be a dad very badly. So, I’m stepping in to help him! The doctors take a little bit from him and from another woman to make the baby, and the baby will live in my tummy until they are strong enough to go home.”
3. “Will the baby be my brother/sister?”
It can be complicated to explain in vitro fertilization and genetics to young children. As awkward as it may be, keep in mind that openness with your children about the reproductive process is proven to be much better than using euphemisms. Try to explain this process in an age-appropriate way, like so:
“No, the baby will not be your sibling. See, in surrogacy, doctors take a little bit from the woman who wants to be a mom and a little bit from the man who wants to be a dad. They put it together to make a baby, and they put that tiny baby inside of me. I’m just a babysitter; I’ll carry them until they’re big and strong enough to go home with their parents!”
4. “Why can’t the baby stay with us?”
If you’ve done your proper work to educate your child, they will understand that the baby you’re carrying is not your sibling — and will go home with their parents after birth. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get some pushback from your child if they really want a sibling. So, be honest with them:
“Your mom/dad and I decided that our family is complete the way it is! We just want to give all of our love to you (and your siblings)! The baby’s parents are very excited for him/her to come home; I’m just helping out by babysitting for a little bit.”
5. “Will you give me up like you’re giving this baby up?”
Sometimes, the idea of surrogacy can make your older children jealous. Knowing that you are not keeping the baby you carry, they may wonder if the same will happen to them. Reassure them with love and empathy:
“Of course not! Your mom/dad and I love you very much. We wanted you just as badly as these parents want their baby. I’m just babysitting until this little one is ready to go home. While I love them, I love them like I love your friends. At the end of the day, you’re my child, and I’m going to always be your mom and love you very much.”
6. “Will I get to meet the baby?”
Before answering this question, it’s important that you talk with the intended parents. Most intended parents would be thrilled about letting your children meet their child; after all, it can be tough for a child to visualize the end of the surrogacy process without seeing it firsthand.
If it will be too complicated for your child to meet the baby you’re carrying, offer some alternatives:
“You know, I don’t know if that will be possible, but I’ll tell you what — why don’t you and I put together something for the baby when he/she goes home? How about drawing a picture, writing a letter or picking out a special toy?”
Following these steps can help your child work through their feelings and bring a sense of conclusion to the surrogacy process.
7. “I hate the baby! Why can’t they just go home with their parents now?”
While some children can get too attached to the child in their mother’s bellies, others go the other direction. It’s totally normal for children of surrogates to feel jealousy and other conflicting emotions about the intended parents’ baby. After all, they are likely seeing less of their mother as she attends to her surrogacy duties — and that can be jarring for a child who has never experienced that before.
If your child lashes out or expresses negative emotions about the intended parents’ baby, you need to quickly and seriously tell them their anger is not appropriate.
“Listen to me: Hate is a very strong word. Are you sure you mean that? Or are you just upset that the baby is taking up more of my time than you’re used to? Remember, as soon as the baby is strong enough, he/she will be going home with their parents, and I’ll be all yours again. In the meantime, remember that it’s our job to keep this baby safe and loved — and I will not tolerate any kind of comment like this again, do you understand?
At first, kids and surrogacy can seem complicated — but many of our gestational carriers have successfully navigated this journey with the support of all of their immediate family.
Have more questions about explaining surrogacy to your kids or the surrogacy process in general? Reach out to your specialist anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).