If you have a family of your own and you’ve ever contemplated becoming a surrogate, then you’ve probably wondered how you might address this topic with your children. For me, it was much simpler than what I had expected and I’d love to share some quick pointers or insights on what that was like for us and our kids. Before I go any further, keep in mind that at the time I was embarking on this journey, my youngest was not quite 2, my middle child was 4, and my oldest was not quite 6. The way you approach this with your children might look and sound different depending on their ages and your circumstances. For us, I was carrying for my sister in law who had battled cancer and couldn’t carry her own. My children saw her go through that battle and they were excited that their mommy was helping her have a family and that they would get a baby cousin.
- They accepted the news better than anyone else we told. Many adults have preconceived notions of how things are “supposed” to work or what they would consider to be “normal.” To many of us, we define “normal” as how we were brought up or raised. Children are so moldable and they look to us for a model of how to live. When we told our kids about this, we simply told them that Aunt Amanda’s belly was broken. Aunt Amanda and Uncle Reid wanted a baby, but Aunt Amanda couldn’t carry the baby in her broken belly. Sometimes, when a mommy’s belly is broken, a doctor will take a cell from the mommy and a cell from the daddy to create something called an embryo, which is the beginning of life for a baby. Since Aunt Amanda’s belly was broken, the doctor was going to put the embryo in Mommy’s belly so Mommy could carry the baby safely for Aunt Amanda and Uncle Reid. When the baby is done growing, the doctor will take out the baby and give him or her to the mommy and daddy. My oldest two definitely understood.
- If you are uneasy, talk to a psychiatrist or a psychologist. This was part of the process for us that we couldn’t avoid even if we wanted. The fertility clinic we went through required all of us to talk to a psychiatrist and a psychologist. During those sessions, we asked about how we should share this information with our kids. They were very helpful and reassured us that the kids would likely take it much better than the adults. They told us that the only reason kids sometimes have issues with surrogacy is because they may fear that you will meet someone else who wants a baby and decide you will give that person one of your children. She said that thought could be easily prevented as long as we front load our conversation by explaining that they belong to me and my husband and that we will never ever ever give them away. The baby in my belly was not mine to keep and was made with the cells of two different people, so the baby belongs to them. My daughters never questioned this at all, but we did make sure we explained this to them ahead of time.
- Use children’s books. We purchased two different books and we used both to help explain what surrogacy is, the process, and the “why” to our kids. Our kids still pull the books out for us to read them with them from time to time. When we first told them about surrogacy, we read the Kangaroo one with them and had Aunt Amanda there with us as we all read it together. (I will link the books we used at the bottom of this post.) Please excuse my middle child not wanting to share the book in the video below. She was a full on threenager at this time… Ha ha!
- Turn this into a very visible lesson on serving those we love. Unfortunately, my sister in law was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a very young age. Due to this, she couldn’t carry her baby. I volunteered to carry for her, and my husband and I explained to our children how this was an opportunity for us to help people we love and care about be able to have a family as well as an opportunity to give a person a chance at life with incredible and loving parents. We talked about how sometimes, serving others requires sacrifice and an understanding that there are things far more important than our comforts. We talked about trusting God to bless us through this process and take care of us. As they continue to grow, I’m going to talk with them a lot more about obedience. I felt called to do this, but with a calling often comes what feels like a risk. But truly, I felt like there was more of a risk for me if I wasn’t obedient. What if I didn’t do this and they never got to have a family and Adalyn never got to have a life? What if I didn’t do this and I felt like I could have helped and chose not to help? Living with that seemed harder than the risks associated with following through and embarking on this process.
- Be honest about the process. We never said the baby got in my belly through magic, or that everything would be easy. We told them about the sickness I would feel. We told them I would be on medicines that would sometimes make me feel a little out of control of my emotions. We told them Daddy would be giving Mommy shots and we let them watch a few times. They also watched my husband rub my hips after my shots and they tried helping out with that a few times too. When they asked me if it hurt, I told them it did, but that it was worth it for their little cousin and for their aunt and uncle. I told them I’d do the same thing for them if I’d had to and that when you really love someone, sometimes you choose to take the boo boos for them.
- Include them in the conversations, the pregnancy, and meeting the new baby. My oldest went to a couple of doctor’s appointments with me, which led to some deeper conversations with her during the car rides home. It was a great opportunity for us to talk and for us to learn from each other. As my belly grew by the day, they would wrap their little arms around my belly and hug me. They talked to the baby, they felt her move, they gave my belly kisses. We all loved her from day one and we all had the mindset that while the baby in my belly wasn’t ours, she was still ours to love and our responsibility to make sure she was taken care of. All 3 enjoyed celebrating the whole time with us – from finding out the pregnancy took, to seeing the pictures from the first ultrasound, to finding out the baby was a girl.
My parents brought the kids to the hospital the day after Adalyn was born. The kids brought little presents for Adalyn and enjoyed getting to hold her in their sweet little arms. They love visiting with Adalyn and we look at her pictures and videos all the time. We are especially thankful for FaceTime since Aunt Amanda and Uncle Reid live a few hours away.
To hear a little more about their response to the surrogacy, watch the YouTube video below. My husband and I did another video about his response to the surrogacy, (click here for that video) where we had some comments from people asking about how our kids responded to the surrogacy. I asked my daughters if they wanted to do a video, and they jumped off of the couch excited to get started! So, this video is definitely not the best quality, but it will give you the skinny. Feel free to share and ask us any other questions you can think of.