10 Ways to Incorporate Your Surrogacy Story into the Holiday Season

The holiday season is finally here. We know that you’re more than a little excited to celebrate with your loved ones and the newest member of your family.

But when you’ve just bought your baby home through surrogacy, you might be unsure of how to incorporate your unique story into your annual holiday traditions.

Below are 10 ways that you can do just that.

1. Send a holiday greeting card.

If it’s been a bit since you’ve reached out to your surrogate or agency, you might think about sending them a nice holiday card. They would love to hear about how you’ve been since the end of your surrogacy journey and about your plans for the holidays. Don’t forget to include a picture of your beautiful family for them to see!

2. Show your appreciation during Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reach out to someone you’re thinking of — especially your surrogate.

There are a ton of ways that you can celebrate them during the busy Thanksgiving season. You might send them a card, spend some time together over a video chat or a phone call, or even just give thanks for them during your Thanksgiving dinner.

Let them know that you’re always thinking of them, and remind them of how much you appreciate their decision to help your family. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box if you’re looking for other ways to show your appreciation!

3. Look back on your surrogate baby book.

A memory book is a great way to keep track of the surrogacy journey. If you made one during the process, now would be an amazing time to look back on how far you’ve come. You might even add some new pictures to your book to remind you of the great times you had during this holiday season.

4. Add a sentimental ornament.

Surrogacy will impact your life many years to come. To commemorate this special journey, why not add a sentimental ornament to your Christmas tree? You might pick an ornament that has your child’s birth date on it or the date of their expected arrival. Take a look at Etsy and Pinterest for some really cool ideas.

5. Gift a book about surrogacy.

The best thing about Christmas and Hannukah is giving and receiving, and who doesn’t love getting books during the holiday? There are a ton of books available about that go in-depth about surrogacy for intended parents, surrogates, children and anyone else who may be curious about what the process is really like.

If you know someone who’s thinking about starting their own surrogacy journey, is in the middle of their journey or already has children through surrogacy, a book is a great holiday gift option.

6. Think about your favorite childhood traditions.

Of all the traditions you had as a child, was there anything that you especially loved? You can recreate them with your child’s surrogacy story in mind. For example, if you had a ton of fun making holiday cookies with your loved ones, you can do the same with your child. Make sure to send some of those goodies to your surrogate with a sweet note!

7. Honor the surrogacy journey.

The holidays are a perfect time to look at the past and feel grateful for everything that we have. Take a moment during this busy season to explain to your child how thankful you are for the surrogacy journey. Talk about how thankful you are that you and your child were brought together by surrogacy and remind your child of how special they are.

8. Plan a new holiday celebration together.

You may already have tons of holiday traditions, but what about something new that’s just focused on surrogacy? You could read a book about surrogacy together, or you could set aside some time during your holiday celebrations to talk with your surrogate or your surrogacy specialist.

9. Watch a positive movie about surrogacy.

We love relaxing on the couch and watching a movie with our family during the holiday season. Although not every surrogacy movie gets the process right, there are some that are worth checking out, like A Belly for Me, A Baby for You and The Guys Next Door.

10. Read a book together about surrogacy.

There are tons of books about the surrogacy process that you can read together with your child, even when they’re young. Some are told from the perspective of a child, so your child will have an age-appropriate explanation for what the surrogacy process is really like and an easier time connecting with the story.

If you’re looking for something geared toward adults, there are plenty of books that you might consider checking out.

How Will You Celebrate?

The holidays are some of the best times of the year. If you’ve been looking for some great ways to celebrate your surrogacy story, then we hope this blog gave you some new ideas.

Need some more? Reach out to your surrogacy specialist anytime for suggestions.

An Intended Parent’s Guide to Donated Breast Milk

Having a child via surrogacy doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the experiences of pregnancy and childbearing. In fact, one of the most popular topics for intended parents is breastfeeding and breast milk.

That’s right — even if your child is born via surrogate, they can still reap the benefits of breast milk. Some intended parents accomplish this through inducing lactation, while others turn to donated breast milk.

In honor of August being National Breastfeeding Month, we’ve compiled this guide for intended parents. Below, learn more about what donated breast milk is, how it works and how you can safely procure some for your child.

Please note: None of the information in this article is intended to be or should be taken as medical advice. If you are interested in the advantages and disadvantages of donated breast milk, please speak to your pediatrician first.

How Does Donated Breast Milk Work?

While breastfeeding can be difficult for many women, just as many women find themselves with milk to spare. After pumping more milk than their babies can eat, these women choose to donate their milk to those infants in need — typically, premature or sick infants who are in the NICU until they are strong enough to go home.

Women who donate breast milk must go through several screening steps prior to being accepted by a milk bank. This ensures that she is healthy and that her breast milk is of a high-enough quality to be donating. After her milk is received by the bank, it is screened, tested and pasteurized before being distributed to parents in need.

Where Can I Get Donated Breast Milk?

There are two paths to obtaining donated breast milk: formally and informally. The safest path is the former; if your child is eligible for donated breast milk in the hospital, your doctor will explain the protocols and requirements.

Most hospitals reserve donated breast milk for those infants in most need of it (those with special medical conditions). However, some may have a supply of “compassionate use” breast milk, reserved for those mothers who cannot adequately feed their babies on their own but aren’t high on the priority list.

You might also purchase breast milk from milk banks, like Medolac, Prolacta and the International Milk Bank. In order to buy from either a non-profit or for-profit milk bank, you’ll need to get a prescription from your doctor. And, like with hospital supplies, milk bank supplies are on a needs-based system; those with sick or premature infants are higher on the list than those parents with healthy babies.

Why is Informal Milk Sharing a Bad Idea?

In your search for donated milk, you may come across communities or collectives of mothers sharing breast milk. Because these sources are not licensed or regulated, you don’t need a prescription to purchase the breast milk — but you open yourself up to many risks.

Unlike breast milk donated through official banks and hospitals, milk obtained through informal sharing is often not screened or tested. There is no quality control, which means there are no standards for milk being shared. Sometimes, those selling milk mix their supply with cow’s milk or other sources without telling the buyer.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Food and Drug Administration advise against informal milk sharing. While the benefits of breast milk can be tempting, it’s not worth the risk of obtaining through unregulated means.

What are My Options for a Child Born Via Surrogacy?

If you are having a child via surrogacy, the first thing you should do is talk to your pediatrician. They can explain your options for feeding your child after they are born, as well as the differences between formula-feeding and breastmilk-feeding.

If you strongly believe in feeding your child breast milk, talk to your hospital about the options for donated breast milk. Remember that healthy infants are at the bottom of the waiting list, so be prepared to feed your child formula when breast milk is not available. If you are ready for the commitment and can plan far enough in advance, you might consider inducing lactation to breastfeed your child yourself.

Keep in mind that many parents feed their children formula. Some mothers have a difficult time producing enough milk for their children, while others don’t have the time to commit to long-term breastfeeding. Formula-feeding does not mean you’re a bad parent, and it does not mean that you’ve failed your child in any way. While there are proven benefits of breast milk, children fed formula are just as healthy. They are many great alternatives to breast milk out there, so talk to your pediatrician for suggestions and advice.

When An Embryo Splits: An Intended Parent’s Guide

In most IVF and surrogacy journeys, creating one healthy pregnancy can be hard enough. But, what happens when the embryo you’ve transferred to your gestational surrogate splits — and you now have identical twins on the way?

This surprise is enough to make even the most level-headed hopeful parents’ heads spin. But you’re not the first parents to experience this shock, and you won’t be the last. What’s important is moving forward with a clear head and a clear set of steps and responsibilities.

Remember, your American Surrogacy specialist will always be there for you in unexpected situations, including identical twins. You can always reach out to them for support and guidance moving forward.

There are usually a few tips we recommend to intended parents in this position:

1. First, Take Stock of Your Situation

Getting the news you’re having twins can be a huge shock. It’s normal to need some time to process this change in your family-building journey. Don’t be afraid to take a beat to accept this news.

Talk with your spouse, if applicable. Talk with your gestational surrogate, too. There is often a great deal of complicated emotions that come with this exciting news, and you are all in this gestational surrogacy journey together. Wherever you go from here, you will need to be on the same page.

However, don’t take too long for this step. Your reproductive endocrinologist will likely present a few paths moving forward (we’ll talk more about those below).

2. Recognize How This Changes Your Financial Situation

It’s no secret that having one baby is expensive. When you have two babies at once, those costs will often more than double.

Being a parent of twins means spending more on:

  • Baby supplies (clothing, diapers, formula, etc.)
  • Childcare
  • Extracurricular activities
  • School and college tuition
  • And more

You should also consider the unique costs associated with a multiples gestational pregnancy. You will need to pay your surrogate an additional retainer for carrying more than one embryo, and you should be prepared for the extra costs associated with bedrest, invasive procedures or more time off work. These costs can quickly add up, so make sure you talk about them in depth with your surrogacy specialist.

Remember that a multiples pregnancy is much riskier than a singleton pregnancy. In the worst-case scenario, a gestational surrogate’s health could be permanently affected, and you could pay additional disability and even death compensation. While these situations are rare, they are always a possibility you should consider.

3. Remember the Risks of a Multiples Pregnancy

There’s a reason why most medical professionals no longer complete multiple-embryo transfers. The risks of a multiples pregnancy are just too great, to both the surrogate and the babies she carries. A multiples pregnancy can increase the possibility of:

  • Preterm labor and delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Cesarean-section
  • Placental abruption
  • Fetal death

Your gestational surrogate will always be at risk in a multiples pregnancy, no matter how careful she is. This is why intended parents must talk at length with their surrogate before transfer and determine what both parties are comfortable with. If you choose to move forward with a twin pregnancy, your surrogate will have to accept this increased risk, and you will need to pay additional retainers, as mentioned above.

Unlike with multiple embryo transfers, twins that result from a single split embryo transfer often cannot be reduced. Identical twins will most likely share a placenta, making it impossible to remove one fetus to give the other the best chance of a healthy birth. Most reproductive endocrinologists will offer an “all-or-none” option: Either the surrogate must carry both fetuses to term, or the pregnancy will be terminated in hopes of a successful singleton pregnancy next time.

These are complicated conversations to have, made more difficult in the emotions of the moment. That’s why surrogacy contracts are so important — they will address situations like this ahead of time and lay out a clear path forward, should they occur.

4. Prepare for Parenting Two Newborns at Once

There’s a lot more to preparing for twins than getting your bank account in order. You’ll have twice as many responsibilities as caring for a single baby, and you’ll need to take a few steps to make that as easy as possible.

If you can, put these measures in place prior to even coming home with your new additions:

  • Recruit some family members or friends to stay with you the first few weeks after the babies are born.
  • Talk to and get advice from other parents raising multiple babies at once.
  • Create a schedule for when your babies come home — who will feed the babies during the day and night, who will change diapers, who will put together your family’s meals, etc.
  • Set up your first pediatrician’s appointment.

While you can’t prepare for all of the unknowns that come with raising children, taking a few steps ahead of time will save you a great deal of stress in the long run.

5. Finally, Take a Deep Breath

Becoming a parent is stressful. When you’re unexpectedly becoming a parent to two little babies, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Remember that every emotion you’re feeling — excitement, worry, sadness, guilt and terror — is all completely normal. You will never be a “bad” parent, as long as you take the steps now to prepare your family for this new journey. That means taking care of your mental health, too.

Don’t forget that your surrogate is likely feeling all kinds of complicated emotions, too. Take the time to reach out to her and remind her of your support. While the journey ahead may be unexpected, you can get through it together.

And, if you ever need any additional help or support, American Surrogacy will always be there for you.

5 Tips for Announcing Your Baby’s Birth Via Surrogacy

When your surrogate finally gives birth to a healthy baby girl or boy, you’ll want to shout the news from the rooftops. With baby announcements already drawn up and birth and newborn photos already taken, you’re ready to send those papers out to family, friends and even the slightest of acquaintances.

But hold on one second — announcements of children born via surrogacy deserve a little extra attention. While surrogacy doesn’t make you any less of a parent than if you had carried your baby yourself, it is a special process that you should celebrate in your announcements. But how?

You may have never seen a baby-born-via-surrogacy announcement. Knowing what to and what not to include can be confusing.

Don’t worry — American Surrogacy is here to help. Below, find a few tips we offer intended parents when it’s time to announce their baby’s arrival into the world.

Tip #1: First, Decide When You’ll Send an Announcement

Before we get into the details of sending baby announcements, we know that you might be interested in sending surrogacy and pregnancy announcements, as well. Ultimately, it will be up to you and your spouse to decide what time is best to announce your new addition — but there are a few things to consider.

Many parents are so excited to finally begin their surrogacy journey that they announce their news right at the start. Or, they may be so thrilled at their surrogate’s positive pregnancy test that they can’t keep their news to themselves. It’s totally understandable to want to share your surrogacy journey with the world, but we encourage intended parents to be patient.

If you want to send a pre-birth announcement, doctors often recommend waiting until 12 weeks of pregnancy. At that point, the risks of miscarriage decrease greatly, and there is a higher chance that your surrogate will deliver a healthy, happy baby.

Because of the potential risks of surrogacy, many intended parents wait until their baby is born to share their parenthood news with the world. While we encourage intended parents to tell their close family and friends about their journey early on, it might be best to wait until your little one is home before telling every person in your network. 

But, again, this decision is always up to you.

Tip #2: Don’t Forget to Honor Your Gestational Carrier

You know birth announcements typically include a cute photo and the birth details. But, when your child is born via surrogacy, don’t forget one important detail: your gestational carrier.

Your surrogate will have sacrificed a great deal of time and energy to help you become a parent. And, while she will be fairly compensated and receive a great deal of satisfaction in her choice, you should also honor that journey. 

How exactly you do this is up to you. But a simple line like “Thank you to our gestational carrier Sarah for bringing our little joy into the world!” can recognize her unique role and show your appreciation.

Tip #3: But Don’t Overshare Info

Remember that your surrogate is her own person — and she has the right to tell her surrogacy story in her own way and on her own time. Don’t use your birth announcement to describe every step of your surrogacy journey (unless you’ve cleared it with her ahead of time). Details like the surrogate’s last name, location, age and family members should stay off the announcement. A simple shout-out will be enough.

Remember: If you post your birth announcement to social media, it can easily be seen by those not in your network, even with privacy settings.

Tip #4: Look to Other Examples for Ideas

While surrogacy is becoming more common, you may not have anyone in your community who has gone through this process. If you’ve never seen a surrogacy birth announcement, how do you know what yours should look like?

The good news is that you can use templates from traditional birth announcements for your surrogacy birth announcements. You may need to tweak a few details, but most of the basics will remain the same.

We’ve gathered a few examples here for you to check out. Hop on Pinterest for some more ideas.

Tip #5: Do What’s Right for You

Like most aspects of your surrogacy journey, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to announce your baby’s birth. If you’re a more private person, you may not send an announcement at all. Maybe you keep your announcements to a smaller group of people and don’t even mention your surrogate on them — because, by then, your gestational surrogacy is common knowledge.

Every one of these options (and the many more available to you) are perfectly okay. Gestational surrogacy is a long journey, and you’ll have to make a lot of compromises along the way. If you want to do birth announcements completely your way, that’s totally understandable.

If you ever need guidance on when and how to announce your gestational surrogacy journey, don’t be afraid to reach out to your American Surrogacy specialist anytime.

What to Expect After Bringing Baby Home: Intended Parents

The feeling of bringing your little one home for the very first time is indescribable. All those months of careful planning, hard word and patience have finally paid off — and your family-building dreams have come true.

But for parents who built their family through surrogacy, you’re probably worried about what to expect when you bring your baby home for the first time. Here, we’ll talk about some of the emotions that you might experience after meeting your little one.

Your First Week at Home

It’s common for new parents to have mixed emotions when they bring their baby home for the first time — so you’re not alone if you feel this way. Naturally, you’ll be nervous, just like any new parent would. And that’s okay. It’s possible to feel thrilled and uncertain at the same time.

You and your baby are going to go through a lot of changes during the first few months as you get to know one another. Even with all the parenting tips and books at your disposal, you might feel unsure of what to expect.

Here are just a few things that you should know during the first week:

  • It’s okay to ask for help from friends and family.
  • You’re going to need more diapers than you thought!
  • You’ll probably feel overwhelmed and stressed with a new person to take care, so don’t forget to rest.
  • After a bit, you’ll start to learn what your baby’s cries mean.
  • It might take longer than you thought to get your bearings.
  • You should take this time to build a support system.

If you need any other tips for bringing your baby home, remember that you can always reach out to your surrogacy specialist.

Bonding with Your Baby

Bonding is something that every new parent worries about  — so you’re not alone. While this process may be more difficult as an intended parent, it’s not impossible. Remember: There are even some biological parents who have a hard time bonding with their baby, so please don’t be too hard on yourself. Bonding with your baby is already difficult enough, so try to be patient.

Difficulty bonding with your baby doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent or that you messed up at some point during the surrogacy process. It just means that adjusting may take you a little bit more time than you had hoped.

Many adoptive and intended parents worry that their child won’t take to them or won’t recognize them as their parent. Because you did not carry them yourself, these fears might be even more pronounced. All of these feelings and emotions  are understandable. But, with a lot of time, patience, and care, you and your baby will build a strong relationship in no time.

There are many ways for you to bond with your baby, even though you didn’t carry them — so if you need any tips, you can always ask your specialist.

The Difficult Emotions of Parenthood

Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs out there. If you feel stressed, overwhelmed or exhausted, know that you’re not alone. Many parents have been in your shoes, and know exactly what you’re going through.

It’s common knowledge that many new moms experience “the baby blues,” which can sometimes develop into postpartum depression. But did you know that the same can be said for intended parents?

The truth is that any new parent, no matter how they chose to build their family, can experience different forms of postpartum depression. In some cases, it can be just as severe or even worse  for intended parents.

The factors of post-surrogacy depression can vary. You might be having trouble bonding with your child, or you might be emotionally exhausted and overworked. When you bring your baby home for the first time, you might feel emotionally exhausted and drained. Those feelings of excitement will likely take a lot out of you — and may make you more susceptible to serious mood disorders.

Some of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
  • Avoiding the baby
  • Difficulty bonding with baby
  • Frequent crying

If you experience any of these symptoms, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Post-surrogacy depression can be painful, but help is always available.

No matter what you’re feeling, we want you to know that you’re never alone. Your surrogacy specialist will always be here to support you. You can call us anytime, anywhere.

If you’re struggling with the emotions of being a new parent, please reach out to a specialist or a counselor for help.

5 Tips for Traveling with a Newborn after a Surrogacy Birth

The birth of your baby is a life-changing moment shared with your family and your surrogate. But what happens after your baby has entered the world, your surrogate is ready to go home, and your baby is ready to be discharged and leave the hospital with you?

Reminders About What Happens Before Your Baby is Born

Most of the preparations for post-birth steps will be completed by your specialist and attorney.

Your American Surrogacy specialist will be in touch with your attorney before the birth to make sure that all the appropriate paperwork is sent to the hospital ahead of time. We’ll remain in touch with your attorney throughout your surrogate’s labor, delivery and recovery, in case any additional paperwork is required. We’ll notify your attorney when your baby has been born so that they can complete any paperwork needed to discharge your baby to your care during and after the hospital stay. 

In many states, most (if not all) of the legal processes can be completed before the baby is even born, so everything can be sent to the hospital in advance. However, if there are any necessary legal steps after your baby’s birth, your attorney will already have walked you through those processes, and they will be ready to put the finishing touches on that paperwork once your baby is born. 

If any additional documentation is required in your situation, you may need to sign some paperwork or wait for those documents to be processed. However, this still won’t affect your ability to bring home your baby after he or she is born.

Generally speaking, most intended parents’ attorneys and specialists will have things ready to go once the baby is cleared for discharge.

From there, all that’s left is to travel home. Traveling with a newborn born via surrogacy will, in most respects, be the same as bringing any new baby home. However, intended parents often ask how they should prepare. Here are five of our tips:

1. Don’t Stress Too Much about the Birth Certificate and Social Security Card

Is it likely that anyone is going to eye you suspiciously and stop you to ask for documentation proving that this is your child as you travel home? No. But getting the standard documentation sooner rather than later never hurts, for bureaucratic purposes. So obtain those items right away if you can, but if you can’t, it’s alright!

Many states allow for pre-birth surrogacy orders, in which case, your baby’s birth certificate will be ready to go with your names listed when you’re discharged from the hospital. If, however, you require post-birth measures, your attorney will complete the necessary steps to update the birth certificate with your names as soon as possible. Processing that might take a little longer, so don’t stress if it’s not available right away.

You’ll be able to apply for a social security card as soon as your baby is born, but you may need your child’s birth certificate at some offices. This can be a pain if you don’t have the birth certificate right away; you might need to wait until you get it to apply for the card. It may be helpful to have any pre- or post-birth orders on hand, just in case officials would like to see those. You can begin applying for that card on the Social Security Administration’s website

Most parents don’t have any trouble with either step, but contact your specialist or attorney if you run into any difficulties.

2. Don’t Rush It

It’s understandable if you want to get back to “real life” with your new child, but this precious early time together is very short-lived. Additionally, there are two important reasons to take your time before heading home:

The first: More time with your surrogate and her family. This is the end of your journey together, and seeing your new family together will mean so much to her. Be sure to spend plenty of time with her while you can, even if you’re excited for some quality alone time with your own family!

The second: More time to make sure your baby is healthy and sturdy enough to travel. Newborns are surprisingly tough and ready to travel fairly quickly, but they can also benefit from a day or two of bonding time and adjusting to the world before they take their first trip. If you’re planning on flying, different airlines will have varying policies on the earliest they’ll permit an infant to fly with them, so this is something to be aware of before you book that flight.

3. Choose to Drive, If You Can

The first reason we recommend driving, if possible, is because of the aforementioned policies that airlines have regarding newborns. Some may require the baby’s birth certificate as proof of age, and if you don’t have that certificate yet, it can be an additional hurdle.

It’s absolutely possible to fly with an infant, but there are some benefits to driving your newborn home:

  • Reduced exposure to illness for a new immune system
  • The ability to make stops as-needed for diaper changes and feedings
  • Less chance of significant travel delays
  • No need for proof of age (if you’re nervous about not having all of your baby’s documentation yet)

Just like when flying, you’ll still want to follow basic newborn safety practices when driving. Otherwise, this route is fairly straightforward.

4. Bring Something to Organize Documents

Again, most of the surrogacy-related documentation will already have been sent to the hospital before the birth by your American Surrogacy specialist and your attorney. However, it never hurts to bring physical copies of relevant documentation with you to the hospital, just in case you or the hospital staff need to refer to something. 

You might pack copies of:

Afterwards, you’ll walk out of the hospital with a new baby — and a lot of papers. You may receive:

  • A list of immunizations
  • A list of health screenings and panels completed
  • Your baby’s birth stats
  • Doctor’s notes
  • Discharge papers
  • Pamphlets for new parents to help with the care of their newborn
  • A birth certificate, in some situations
  • And more

Having a folder of some sort where you can safely store and access these papers — alongside whatever surrogacy-related documentation you brought with you as a just-in-case measure — will likely be helpful.

5. Follow Standard Safety and Packing Tips

Parents everywhere will have plenty of advice for you when it comes to packing for the hospital and the trip home. The biggest differences in your situation: You won’t need to pack for postpartum care, and you’ll want to pack some extra clothes and supplies in case you’re in the hospital for a while.

Of course, the most important things you’ll need to have ready before you head out of the hospital with your baby include:

  • An approved carrier/car seat, preferably already installed
  • A stocked diaper bag
  • Breastmilk (and something to transport it in), formula or a combination of both
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Extra clothes
  • Plenty of cloths and rags
  • Bottles (remember that you can always clean them on-the-go, if you need to, so don’t overpack)
  • Some plastic bags to temporarily seal up dirty spit-up rags and clothes 

Resist the urge to pack the cute, unnecessary things. For now, just make sure that your baby is safe, comfortable, warm and fed as you travel home. Keep your own bags packed with strictly practical and comfortable items, too.

If you have any questions, or you’re uncertain about preparing to travel home with your surrogacy-born newborn, you can always ask your American Surrogacy specialist, or check in with parents who have been in your shoes!

How to Prepare Older Children for a Sibling Born Via Surrogacy

If you have a child or several children, and you’re in the process of adding to your family through surrogacy, you’re also going to be preparing your children for a new baby brother or sister. So, in honor of National Siblings Day, American Surrogacy wanted to offer you some tips!

In most respects, you’ll talk to your children about the responsibilities of being a big sibling just like any family would. Your children will likely experience the same thoughts and feelings that most kids have when they find out they’re getting a new sibling.

However, because you’re welcoming a child via surrogacy, a few aspects of this experience will be a little different. For example, your kids won’t be watching Mom’s belly grow. They may wonder if their surrogate-born sibling will be different somehow. They may want to establish their own relationship to your surrogate and their unborn sibling.

You may not be sure of how to move forward, so here’s American Surrogacy’s advice on how to help get your children ready for their newest surrogate-born sibling:

1. Explain Surrogacy to Your Children

Having a basic, age-appropriate grasp of the surrogacy process is the first step. Reading some children’s books about surrogacy together can be a great introduction to the topic. 

Explain that there are many different but equally wonderful ways to grow a family, and this is just how your child’s brother or sister will be joining your family. Ask them if they have any questions about surrogacy, and express your excitement and pride in this shared experience — they’ll mirror your calmness and positivity!

Remember that your children will become their own ambassadors for surrogacy at school and among their peers, so give them the tools they need to answer questions they might be asked by inquisitive kids or teachers. Teaching them some basic language to use and practicing using that language at home can be helpful.

2. Continue to Talk About the Baby and Let Them Ask Questions

When you’re adding to your family via surrogacy, the concept of the new baby can be a little “out of sight, out of mind” for some kids. After your initial news, they may forget that the baby is still coming because they aren’t watching Mom’s body change. The baby’s arrival can feel very far away to a little kid!

Keep their new sibling a topic of conversation. Ask them what they’re excited to do with their little brother or sister when they’re older, or what names they like. Ask them for their help in setting up the baby’s nursery.

Take the opportunity to listen to their questions, as well. Your child might be wondering about how the baby is doing with the surrogate, or they might be unsure of what the hospital process will be like. They might also be nervous about typical big sibling concerns, too!

3. Involve Them in the Surrogacy Experience

It can be comforting for your child to feel included and clued in with what’s happening, in an age-appropriate way. Here are a few ways you could include your child in your family’s surrogacy journey:

  • Let your children meet your surrogate, if possible. You can show your child her picture or video chat with her if an in-person visit isn’t convenient. Getting to know the wonderful person who is carrying their sibling can make things feel a little more real and exciting.
  • Let your children meet their sibling at the hospital. This may also give them the opportunity to thank your surrogate for helping your whole family. 
  • Encourage your child to write letters or draw pictures to your surrogate and your baby. Mail them to her! It’ll probably bring a smile to her face.
  • Record your child reading a story to the baby, and send it to your surrogate to play. Get a jumpstart on sibling bonding!
  • Have your child pick out two special gifts — one for your surrogate and one for their baby sibling. Letting them choose a toy or stuffed animal for the baby can help things feel tangible.
  • Talk about your surrogate. Tell your child stories that she’s shared about the baby’s progress or movements. Tell your child about where she lives and what her family is like. Talk about how she’s taking amazing care of their baby sibling.

4. Be Reassuring and Express Your Excitement

Kids pick up on our emotions and look to parents to see if they should feel positively about a new situation. Speaking and behaving in a way that shows you’re proud of this surrogacy journey will set the example for your children to follow suit. Setting this tone now will especially be important for your surrogate-born child. Show your children that this is a happy and exciting time for your family. 

Even so, your child may still be afraid of the big changes ahead or may feel some uncertainty toward the surrogacy process. Keep assuring your children that things are going to be alright. The surrogacy process can be hectic and emotional, but your children will look to you for normalcy and positivity in the adventure you’re undertaking together.

In many ways, these feelings are the same that any family experiences with the arrival of a new child. Surrogacy can make things seem a little challenging at first glance, but the enormous benefit that it will have for your family will be lifelong.

Want more tips and suggestions on preparing your children for a sibling born via surrogacy? Reach out to your American Surrogacy specialist anytime for personalized advice.

Addressing Gamete Donors in Family Tree Assignments

School is back in session, and with it comes the familiar assignment that many young children tackle in their first few years of education — the family tree.

While it can be an interesting assignment for many families, it can be a confusing and even stressful one for those whose families have come together in nontraditional ways. While processes such as adoption, surrogacy and gamete donation are more common than ever, they still don’t tend to cross teachers’ minds when it comes to assigning out these traditional family-based projects.

If your child was born via surrogacy and gamete donation, you may be unsure of how to tackle this assignment when your child pulls it out of their backpack. The final decision will always be up to you and your son or daughter, but we’ve offered five ways you may address this topic in a healthy and positive way:

1. Consider whether it’s worth including.

The first thing to remember? That your family’s business is your business alone. Just because your child shares a genetic connection with a donor — anonymous or identified — doesn’t mean that you have to share that news with everyone.

Family trees are assigned for many reasons — to teach students about genetics, to help students get to know each other better, to practice presentation skills, and more. Learn what the focus of this project is for your child’s class. While it’s never a good idea to lie about your child’s personal history, when you’re the parent, it is always your role to safeguard your child’s story and whether or not you want to share it with people outside your family.

2. Ask your child about their thoughts.

Before you tell your child to include a sperm or egg donor on their family tree, make sure to talk to them! Children have as much right to their own birth and family story as anyone else, and it’s important that they play a role in their family tree assignment — and who they want to put on it.

Every donor-conceived and surrogacy-born child should know their personal story from an early age. If you’ve done your job right, your child will be aware of their surrogacy or gamete-donor story. They will likely have their own feelings about it, too.

3. Use an alternative family tree design.

When children are brought into a family in a non-traditional way, a traditional family tree structure can’t capture those nuances. If you and your child decide to move forward with a family tree, you should brainstorm together to find a way to best represent your child’s heritage and genetic background.

You might simply choose to add another line from your child to their sperm or egg donor, designating the difference between a genetic donor and an actual parent. Or, you may add your surrogate in the same way, with a line that makes it obvious your child isn’t genetically related to the surrogate.

Some adoptive and other non-traditional families choose to create “family forests” instead of trees. This way, they can emphasize the most important people in a child’s life, without necessarily pointing out genetic connections and non-genetic connections.

There are several ways you can create a non-traditional family tree. Work with your child to determine which is the best design for his or her preferences.

4. Talk to your child’s teachers about alternative assignments.

After discussion with your child, you may decide that a family tree is not the best assignment — especially if there are complications in your child’s family history, related or unrelated to their surrogacy story. Many teachers will be happy to work with you to find an alternative assignment. If your child doesn’t want to make a family tree based on their background, consider completing a family tree for a famous person in history, such as a president.

This brings up a good note for any parent: It’s a good idea to make your child’s teacher aware of any non-traditional aspects in your child’s family, to avoid awkward and complicated teaching moments throughout the whole school year.

5. Include the donor on the family tree — and use it as a teaching moment.

If you and your child are comfortable, don’t be afraid to use the inclusion of your child’s donor as a great opportunity to share the beauty of assisted reproduction methods with the classroom. While your child may be the only one in class conceived this way, remember that the number of nontraditional families in the U.S. is growing. Education plays a great role in tolerance and acceptance.

If your child is excited to share their surrogacy or donor story with their classroom, you’ll want to help them prepare for the class conversation. Give them some answers to ignorant comments and questions claiming that a surrogate “gave them up” or that their non-biological parent is not their “real” parent. You should also consider including the teacher on this preparation, so they can guide the class conversation is a positive and accepting way.

The pride that your child has in their own surrogacy story is a great example that you are doing a great job as a parent. Support them in this assignment; it will be the beginning of a lifetime spent answering questions and educating about surrogacy and gamete donation.

Have more questions about the nuances of raising a surrogacy-born, donor-conceived child? Talk to our surrogacy specialists anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

5 Tips for Finding a Pediatrician for Your Child Born via Surrogacy

When you use surrogacy to add a child to your family, there are a lot of medical professionals involved: your reproductive endocrinologist, your surrogate’s personal physician and obstetricians, nurses at the hospital, and more.

But, have you thought about the most important professional you’ll need once your surrogacy is done — your child’s pediatrician?

Finding the right pediatrician for your child will take some time. One bright side of your surrogate carrying your child? You will have the time to research and choose the perfect doctor for your baby once they are born.

Below, find five important tips to keep in mind during this search. Remember: Your surrogacy specialist will always be available to answer your questions about raising a child born via surrogacy, including how your pediatrician can play a role in this journey.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-800-875-BABY(2229) today for more information.

1. Do thorough research.

One of the best ways to spend the time waiting for your child to be born? Preparing yourself for their arrival — which includes finding the right pediatrician to look after their medical health.

Finding a pediatrician involves more than just choosing the closest doctor to you. Your child’s pediatrician will provide preventative care to your child throughout their childhood, and they will play an integral part in your child’s physical and mental development. They will also be a great resource to you by providing education about child development, safety and more.

When you first start researching options for pediatricians, you’ll want to consider:

  • Location, hours and after-hour care
  • Insurance coverage
  • Whether the doctor is accepting new patients
  • The doctor’s certifications and awards
  • The doctor’s experience and any areas of specialization
  • And more

2. Ask for references and recommendations.

If this is your first child, you may be unsure of what you are looking for in a pediatrician. Talking to those who have been through this process before can be helpful.

One of the best ways to find a good local pediatrician is by asking your friends and family members with children. They can let you know who they are seeing, what they like about them, and what they wished they had known about pediatricians before starting. Their experience can serve you well in your personal search.

You might also reach out to your (or your surrogate’s) obstetrician. They may have advice for finding a good pediatrician based on your and your surrogate’s health background, and they might even recommend a few physicians to start with.

3. Interview potential pediatricians.

Once you have a list of prospective pediatricians, you will need to interview the ones you are seriously interested in. Your first time meeting your baby’s pediatrician shouldn’t be at your baby’s first visit; you should establish a relationship with the doctor prior to your baby even being born.

There are a lot of great doctors out there, and many of them may work as your personal pediatrician. To determine your best fit, you’ll need to meet the doctor in person. This will give you a chance to ask any questions you may have about their practice and their medical opinions, as well as determine whether you two “click” and have a good relationship.

This can be the lengthiest part of finding a pediatrician, so make sure to start your interviews early! The more doctors you talk to, the better idea you’ll have of what you’re looking for in a pediatrician for your child.

4. Keep your surrogacy experience in mind.

In many ways, the process of finding a pediatrician for a child born via surrogacy will be very similar to that of a child born in a traditional manner. However, there are a few things you should consider.

If you are matched with an out-of-state surrogate, the first pediatrician to see your child will likely be in the city where your gestational carrier gives birth. You’ll want to talk with your surrogate’s obstetrician for local recommendations, and you’ll want to keep your own pediatrician up-to-date on pregnancy and delivery news as it occurs. You’ll also want to ask your local pediatrician when they would like to see the baby after you return home and make sure that the hospital at which your child is born sends the proper paperwork to your local doctor.

If your child has been conceived with a gamete donation, you’ll need to inform your pediatrician, as well. This may play a role in your decision — is your pediatrician familiar with the ins-and-outs of sperm and egg donation, and do they have experience tackling this issue with current patients? How will they navigate the issue of social and medical history from a donor when caring for your child?

You’ll need to work with a pediatrician who is comfortable with your child’s surrogacy background — and is willing to do more research whenever necessary. So, make sure your surrogacy experience is an important topic of your initial conversation with a prospective doctor.

5. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

The pediatrician that you choose for your child will most likely be there throughout the years (and even decades!) to come. It’s a big decision — and it’s completely normal if your needs and wants end up changing over the years to come. Fortunately, there are many pediatricians out there, and you will find the one that is best for your child.

Say you choose one pediatrician to start with. But, on your first visit with the doctor and your baby, you’re not satisfied with the level of care you receive. Alternatively, your child may develop a condition during childhood that your pediatrician may not be able to adequately care for. Changing doctors is totally acceptable — it’s not a comment on your ability as a parent or even the doctor’s ability to do their job!

You are never obligated to remain with a certain medical professional just because you started with that person. As a parent, you must always do what is right for your child!

Want more tips and hints for life as a parent after surrogacy? Reach out to your surrogacy specialist anytime at 1-800-875-BABY(2229).

What are Surrogacy’s Effects on Children Born via this Method?

While assisted reproduction methods have been around for decades, gestational surrogacy is still the relatively new kid on the block. Because of its novelty, surrogacy can be a controversial topic of discussion — especially when it comes to the long-term effects on those involved.

While intended parents and gestational carriers enter into this process fully aware of the risks and rewards of doing so, the children who are born via surrogacy have no choice in the matter. Therefore, it’s normal for many people to ask, “What are the effects on children born via surrogacy?”

Researchers have been studying the families created through gestational surrogacy for years now. While there are no definite and conclusive answers to this question, a fair amount of reports have been released over the past few years that shed some light on this topic. We’ve summarized them for you below.

Remember: If you ever have questions about the surrogacy process, our specialists are here to help. Contact us anytime online or by calling 1-800-875-2229(BABY).

Physical Effects on Children Born via Surrogacy

For many people, there’s been a long-standing question about children conceived through in vitro fertilization: How does it affect them in the long run?

The good news is that researchers have not found any solid evidence to show that children conceived via IVF are any less healthy than those conceived in the traditional manner.

One of the most recent and most extensive studies on this topic comes out of Israel. In a 2017 study, Israeli researchers evaluated the health of young adults enlisting in the military, all of whom were born via IVF from 1982—1993. The physicians looked at all medical and psychiatric diagnoses recorded, as well as cognitive function. Overall, there were no major differences between the adults conceived and born via IVF than adults conceived and born in the traditional way.

Studies on children born via surrogacy tend to have the same results. While the rate of multiple births and low birth weight are higher among those pursuing gestational surrogacy, long-term results have not indicated that the entire classification of children born via surrogacy is any less healthy than their traditionally born counterparts.

For more information on how IVF plays a role in a child’s health, we encourage intended parents to speak with an experienced reproductive endocrinologist at a surrogacy or fertility clinic.

Emotional Effects on Children Born via Surrogacy

The lack of a negative physical effect is all good and well — but is there a possibility that a child is psychologically affected by the fact that they were born via surrogacy?

The answer is yes — and no. As with any other child brought into a family in a non-traditional way, the psychological health of a child born via surrogacy will depend upon how their parents celebrate their surrogacy story. If there’s anything family-building professionals have learned from adoption and gamete donations, it’s that honesty and openness are always the best policies.

The psychological health of people involved in the surrogacy process has always been of interest to researchers. There are many studies out there that evaluate the psychological health of a child born via surrogacy, the relationships between intended mothers and their children, the emotional effects of surrogacy on gestational carriers, and more.

For this article, we’ll focus on the emotional health of children born via surrogacy. The vast majority of studies today show no major differences in emotional health of children born via surrogacy and those children conceived naturally. One extensive 2011 study showed that surrogacy children grew up well-adjusted throughout their childhood, with no noticeable differences in maternal positivity, maternal negativity, and child adjustment. In fact, mothers and fathers of children born via surrogacy were shown to have more positive parent-child relationships and less stress (respectively) than those who had a child naturally.

Of course, there are studies out there that claim children born via surrogacy are more likely to be depressed and experience identity issues as they grow up. But, that makes sense; if intended parents don’t take the time to fully and positively explain a child’s surrogacy story as they grow up, it will be a great shock to a child when they eventually find out. That’s why we at American Surrogacy encourage all intended parents to normalize their child’s surrogacy story from the moment they are brought home from the hospital.

For many children, the idea of being carried in another woman’s womb is more disruptive than the idea of not being genetically related to their parents. This is likely because surrogacy is still uncommon in comparison to other family-building methods like adoption. So, proper explanation and honesty is key to helping a child develop their identity as a surrogacy baby.

Whatever your interest in surrogacy, we know that it can be scary to think of the future when you’re so focused on the present. That’s why our surrogacy specialists are always here to answer all of your questions about gestational surrogacy before you begin.

To learn more today, give us a call at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).