Oh boy! The idea of explaining your choice to become a surrogate to your children is overwhelming! In fact, we’ve heard about a lot of surrogates who are less worried about telling their bosses their choice to become a surrogate than they are to talk with their young kids! Well, take a deep breath and relax. Trust us when we say- telling your children about your choice to pursue surrogacy is far scarier in theory than it usually turns out to be in reality.
Kids are malleable. They aren’t born with an idea of what is normal or special; of what is right or wrong. We aren’t born knowing that it’s kind to give hugs, and probably not a good idea to pull your sister’s hair. It’s your job as a parent to teach them those things, right? Explaining surrogacy is no different. So much of your children’s reaction to your news will be based on how you present the idea to them in the first place.
Presenting it in an excited, un-rushed manner with age appropriate details will help make your big reveal a big success. That said, the way you share the news with your 4 year old will be very different than how you share it with your 14 year old. While it’s always important to honor their young opinions and questions no matter their age, here are a few pointers for explaining the situation to differing age groups.
The good news about telling young children about surrogacy is that you don’t typically have to explain the biology of the process. Typically, if you just tell them, “This isn’t our baby! It’s –names of the intended parents here—‘s baby!” they’ll accept that as fact without questioning it too much. Sometimes they’ll ask how someone else’s baby wound up in mommy’s stomach, but a simple, “The doctor put her there!” will suffice.
The hard part about telling young children about surrogacy is that, at this age, they’re probably the most excited over the potential of a future little brother or sister. Explaining to them that a belly bump doesn’t mean a brother (or sister!) is likely your biggest struggle. Approaching this subject with a compassionate heart can really help cushion the blow. Also, showing your child a photo of the intended parents helps them to visualize the family this new child will fit into. Doing this makes the intended parents a concrete, tangible thing as opposed to just a name or an idea, which can be harder for young children to comprehend.
Grade School Age
If you have a grade school student, we don’t have to tell you that they’re curious little creatures. Be prepared for a lot of questions when sharing your surrogacy news with this age group.
Perhaps the hardest part about sharing your news with your grade schooler is that they may seem more mature than they really are. They’ll want to know how the baby that isn’t their sister got into your body, but they’re likely still too young to comprehend the complexities of IVF. They’re old enough to comprehend that the baby won’t be coming home to your family after the birth, but may have big emotions about the fact that they have no say in this choice.
Don’t be surprised if you receive a large, emotional, response to your news. It could be one of excitement and pride, or one of fear, and anger. Big emotions are common at this age, and even one that seems like a negative response doesn’t have to be cause for disappointment. Try introducing different levels of surrogacy and this process in small, age appropriate bits over many “micro” chats for best results. Here’s a tip: talk about it in the car when they can’t run away!
At this age it’s incredibly important to remain calm, focused, and open to all of their little questions. Arm yourself with an open heart, a lot of time, and a ton of patience and you’ll likely find your grade schoolers are easily excited over the idea of helping others through surrogacy.
Tweens & Teens
Isn’t everything harder when you have a tween or teenager? Unfortunately, making your surrogacy announcement may be no different. At this point in your child’s development they’re highly focused inward, looking at how your choices impact their lives. Bearing this in mind is a great way to help steer the conversation.
The good news is that they likely have a solid grasp on sex-ed matters, and will likely be able to comprehend the idea of IVF pregnancies easily. That means it’ll be easy for them to understand that this child is in no way related to them, and that they aren’t losing a sibling through your choices.
Tweens and teens are becoming their own people at this age, and may have their own ethical thoughts relating to surrogacy or, if you’re helping same sex parents, homosexual parenting. There’s a good chance their beliefs may differ from yours, and that this could lead to an uncomfortable conversation. Try to approach their questions, concerns, and comments with a laid back attitude while always respecting their young minds and emerging opinions.
This age group may also present an aloof “who cares” attitude. This can be difficult for you since, clearly, you’re very excited by this choice. It’s likely, probable even, that your tween or teen has real emotions and feelings about your news, even if they do present an anticlimactic response. Or, they may honestly not care. They’re mature enough to see that this is a short term thing in the scheme of their lives, and may have no response to it at all. That’s OK, too. Try to give them some space to digest this news on their own, while leaving the door open for further questions or comments later on.
We couldn’t have said it better, that is why this is a direct repost from All Things Surrogacy