You probably already know that keeping a child’s personal history a secret from him or her is ill-advised, to say the least. For example, children whose parents kept their adoptions a secret from them, or even who spoke very little about their adoption, expressed feeling shame, anger, betrayal and alienation because it seemed like their story was something that should be hidden.
American Surrogacy believes that people have a right to know their personal histories, and we always recommend that intended parents (and adoptive parents) learn how to talk to their child about the story of their family’s creation even before their child comes home. Telling your child about their surrogacy story is something that we encourage you to start doing from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital.
Here are four tips for talking to your child about their surrogacy story:
1. Start Early
It’s never too early. It might feel silly at first to be telling your newborn their surrogacy story, but making it a regular habit, perhaps at bedtime, is easiest if you start from infancy. Additionally, by starting in infancy, your child will never know a time when they didn’t know of their surrogacy story, and there will never be a shocking or painful “reveal.”
We recommend that you use age-appropriate language as your child grows. Start with a simple (but honest) version of their surrogacy story: how you wished for your child very much and their surrogate helped bring them to you.
A few helpful tips if you’re not sure how to tell that story:
- There are a number of children’s books about surrogacy that are great resources for new parents, and they explain the essentials in simple terms.
- Remember if you need additional guidance on finding age-appropriate explanations for a complex topic like surrogacy, your American Surrogacy specialist is always there to help.
- You can even ask your surrogate for advice, as she likely explained the surrogacy process to her own children!
2. Keep the Conversation Active
As your child ages, they’ll understand and explore their surrogacy story in new ways, so they may have questions or changing feelings about being born via surrogate. This is perfectly normal.
But this is why it’s important that you talk about your family’s experience with surrogacy on a regular basis. For you, it was a path to parenthood, but for your child, it is a part of their identity to some degree.
By continuing to keep the conversation active and open-ended, you allow your child opportunities to talk about it and to ask questions, if they want to. You’ll also set an important example: how they came into the world is something they can always talk about, and isn’t something to hide because it’s not shameful or secretive.
3. Express Positivity and Gratitude
Children reflect their parents’ emotional attitudes, and they pick up on far more than we often realize. If you harbor negative feelings toward your surrogacy journey, like continued infertility grief, shame or jealousy about not being able to carry your child yourself, your child will notice. Addressing any lingering feelings of negativity through a professional or someone you trust will be beneficial for both you and your child.
When you talk about your child’s surrogacy story or their surrogate (or even their gamete donor, if you used one), or when you speak of any non-traditional family-building path like surrogacy or adoption, always speak with respect. Speak kindly of the people who were involved in bringing your child into your life, and talk about surrogacy with positivity and excitement.
Most of all: assure your child that you’re grateful he or she is in your life and that you wouldn’t change a thing about how they came to be there! It’s important that your child knows he or she was not a “second-best” option, but rather exactly where and who they are meant to be.
4. Listen to Your Child
Especially when he or she is young, your child will likely not have much to say about their surrogacy story. As they age, they may go through periods where they want to know more, or they may not be interested in talking about it. Their feelings may evolve over time. Every child is different, so there’s no right or wrong way for them to experience these things.
However, you should continue to keep surrogacy a topic in your home from time to time. Encourage them to ask questions and to express their thoughts and feelings. Listening to your child when they have something to say about their own surrogacy story will mean a lot to them someday.
Having a strong understanding of their surrogacy story will lead to a strong sense of personal identity for children born via surrogate. Pride in how they came into the world is an important thing to pass on to your child.
Contact American Surrogacy to begin your own surrogacy journey online or by calling 1-800-875-BABY(2229).