Deciding to become a surrogate can be an exciting time in your life. But, as a prospective surrogate, you will already have children — and becoming pregnant with someone else’s child might make you question whether they’ll understand your choice. After all, how do you explain surrogacy to children without confusing them?
Explaining surrogacy to younger family members may be intimidating, but know that it can be done. After all, every surrogate that works with American Surrogacy has previous children — and they’ve been able to successfully explain surrogacy to their children in a helpful and age-appropriate way.
We’ve compiled some helpful tips here, but remember that your surrogacy specialist will be available to you if you need more advice on how to tell your child about surrogacy. Please call us any time at 1-800-875-2229 with any questions you might have about the surrogacy process and how it might affect your children.
Explaining Surrogacy to Children
As a surrogate, your pregnancy will have the largest impact on you as you experience the side effects of pregnancy and reschedule your time to incorporate doctor’s appointments, phone calls with your surrogacy specialist and meetings with the intended parents into your lifestyle.
But, while you will be doing the majority of the work, you’ll also need to think about how your surrogacy will affect your children. As you schedule out more time for doctor’s appointments and meetings with intended parents, your children may see less of you — and their resulting emotions can manifest in several ways. They may become withdrawn and lonely or jealous of the baby you’re carrying, which is why it’s so important that they understand what your surrogacy pregnancy means to them.
How to tell your child about your surrogacy will vary depending on their age and maturity. For younger children, it’s best not to tell them much until there is physical evidence of the pregnancy (for example, a “baby bump” that might raise questions). On the other hand, older children who can comprehend the theoretical might be told of your surrogacy earlier on in the process.
It’s important that you remain honest and age-appropriate when you explain surrogacy to children. Here are some steps we advise:
Gently introduce the concept. Before you even tell your children that you have chosen to be a surrogate, you can normalize the process by reading them children’s books explaining surrogacy (see below for a list of titles). In a hypothetical way, ask them what they would think if Mommy decided to help another family have a baby in this way. Their response will inform the next steps you take.
Be age-appropriate. How much you do (or don’t) tell your child about how you became pregnant with another person’s child will be based on their level of maturity. For younger children, it might be best to describe what you’re doing as “babysitting” the child until they’re ready to be born and go home to their parents. You might explain that because the baby’s mommy’s tummy is broken, the baby will stay inside yours to keep them safe while they grow big and strong. When you’re unsure of what to say, it’s best to keep the language simple rather than overwhelm them with details.
Make surrogacy a constant conversation. Explaining surrogacy to your child should be an ongoing process throughout your pregnancy. Emphasize that you are willing to answer any questions your child has at any time; they will likely have different concerns at different points in your pregnancy.
Be excited and reassuring. Surrogacy can be confusing and frightening for young children, so make sure your children know that you will always love them — and sending this baby to another family does not mean the same will happen to them. They may grow attached to the baby and worry about his or her future, so reassure them that the baby will be very loved and cared for by his or her parents. Most importantly, if you’re excited about your surrogacy, your children will pick up on your emotions and be more comfortable with the process.
When you explain surrogacy to children, it should be a well-thought-out conversation. We recommend you write out the main points of your conversation before sharing them with your children and, if you have a partner or close family member or friend, run your plan past them to see if they have any suggestions. And, of course, remember that your surrogacy specialist can help you with any questions you may have about how to tell your child about surrogacy.
Involve Them in the Surrogacy Process
For young children, surrogacy may seem like an abstract, hypothetical situation. By involving them in your surrogacy process, you will not only help them understand the realities of the situation but also help to ease the transition that will occur when the baby is placed with his or her parents after birth. The more your children are involved in your surrogacy, the less likely they will experience feelings of jealousy, loneliness or anger seeing you pregnant with a child that won’t be their brother or sister.
While the steps you take will depend on your relationship with the intended parents, here are some possible things you can do to get your children involved in your surrogacy process:
Let them know the intended parents. Once you are matched with intended parents, help your children understand who these people are. Show them pictures of the parents, tell their story and, if appropriate, have them meet the intended family. This will give your child a concrete person to think about when you mention the parents of the baby you’re carrying. If possible, you might have your children visit the intended parents’ home so they can visualize where the baby will grow up.
Teach them how to talk about surrogacy and their mother’s pregnancy. By trusting your children to teach others about surrogacy, you will give them a degree of responsibility that will make them feel like a “grown up.” Provide answers to questions their classmates or friends may have about your pregnancy (these may even be questions they have themselves but aren’t sure how to ask). Normalize your surrogate pregnancy as much as you can — and give them the tools to do so as well.
Let them communicate with the baby. While it’s important that you emphasize the unborn baby is not your children’s brother or sister, your children likely will become attached to the child growing inside you. Encourage them to write letters or draw pictures for the baby, as it may help them work through their own emotions. Have your children pick out a toy for the baby to have after they’re born and, if possible, let them meet the baby. Seeing the baby is safe with the intended parents can help lessen the shock of losing someone that has been part of their lives for the last few months.
Explaining Surrogacy with Children’s Books
Some of the most helpful resources available to you are children’s books explaining surrogacy. In a friendly, age-appropriate way, these books explain how surrogacy works (without overwhelming children with more details than necessary). Some books to check out include:
The Kangaroo Pouch: A Story about Surrogacy for Young Children by Sarah Phillips Pellet
Sacha, the Little Bright Shooting Star: The Story of Surrogacy by Sofia Prezani
The Very Kind Koala: A Surrogacy Story for Children by Kimberly Kluger-Bell
Hope & Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Surrogacy by Irene Celcer
How to tell your children about surrogacy may seem intimidating, but it certainly shouldn’t stand in your way of becoming a surrogate. In many cases, children can understand more than you may think, and, when it’s explained properly, they’ll be just as excited as you are about your new surrogate pregnancy. One of the most important things to remember is to keep communication open between you and your child; they should understand that you’re there to talk about your surrogacy whenever they want to.
Surrogacy is a beautiful way to help create a family, and helping your children be more open-minded and appreciative of families of all backgrounds will last long beyond your pregnancy. Remember, if you need any assistance with explaining surrogacy to family members, you can always contact a surrogacy specialist at 1-800-875-BABY.