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.
If your child throws a curveball and asks you questions that you’re not prepared to answer- or as kids are oft to do- heaves a comment at you that leaves you speechless, fear not! The All Things Surrogacy community has probably heard the question or comment before. Feel free to use your community to find support and the perfect reply to those, “Kids say the darndest things” moments.
Surrogacy Books for Children
The Kangaroo Pouch
The Kangaroo Pouch introduces young children, ages 2-to-8, to the concept of surrogacy. The story is narrated by a young kangaroo named Oliver whose mother has decided to help another family have a baby. The Kangaroo Pouch gently guides the reader on the surrogacy journey and answers questions they may have such as, why would someone choose to be a surrogate? What will family life be like during the pregnancy? And most importantly, what happens when the surro-baby is born and given back to their biological parents?
The Kangaroo Pouch is designed to act not only as a conversation starter, but also as a “how-to” manual for children to refer to throughout the surrogacy journey. The book has been reviewed by child specialists to ensure that it conveys age-appropriate messages.
Sophia’s Broken Crayons
Sophia’s Broken Crayons is a book for young children, recommended for children ages 2 to 6 years old which tells a story of surrogacy from a young child’s perspective in a practical way that children can understand and grasp. A little girl by the name of Sophia is heartbroken after she discovers all of her crayons are broken. Sophia’s friend’s share their crayons with her as she experiences seeing her parents choose to give the gift of surrogacy to their friends. Sophia’s Broken Crayons is a very easy and understanding way to help explain surrogacy to a young child which include questions such as why can’t everyone have a baby? Why would someone choose a surrogate to help grow their family? Why would someone choose to become a surrogate? Follow the story of Sophia as she learns about sharing and helping out friends in need as well as why moms and dads choose surrogates to help grow their families and why surrogates choose to help other families that way.
The Very Kind Koala
The Very Kind Koala is a charming picture book for young children which provides an introduction to surrogacy through the simple story of a koala bear and her husband who needed the help of a very kind koala to carry their baby in her pouch. Parents can begin reading this story to children as young as 3 years of age to begin the dialog about their own helpful surrogate.
Grown in Another Garden
Grown in Another Garden introduces young children, ages 2 years old to 8 years old, to surrogacy. Follow the story of Mikey and his family as he learns about the unique way he was born into a loving family – through the kindness of a surrogate. Join with him discovers that “sometimes the sweetest and most beautiful creations are grown in another garden.” Mikey’s story helps to explain why some families choose surrogates to help grow their families and why surrogates choose to help other families that way.
Hope & Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Surrogacy
Follow an inquisitive little boy who learns of his parents’ quest to have children, and the success they ultimately achieve in creating a family. Told in a language a child can understand, read the tale of how mom and dad met, fell in love, and ultimately built a family.
This story on the gift of surrogacy is part of a book collection that brings to light the many reproductive options of family building. Come and celebrate the unique gift couples can receive on their way to becoming a family.
Why I’m So Special: A Book About Surrogacy with Two Daddies
Why I’m So Special, A Book About Surrogacy With Two Daddies, tackles a very difficult, complicated subject in a sweet, whimsical way. It is a lighthearted picture book on surrogacy with two daddies. The book is a story that all parents who used a surrogate may share with their young children to let them know just how special they are. This story is ultimately about hope, perseverance, and lots of love.
The Pea That Was Me
The best way to start talking to kids about donors in when they are young, and the easiest way to being the discussion is by reading The Pea That is Me to them. Kids love the whimsical “Pea People” in the story and will ask to read the story over and over again.
Written by a well known psychotherapist and specialist in reproductive issues who uses age appropriate language and simple but clear concepts about the three things it takes to make a baby (eggs, sperm and a tummy to grow in), kids learn that a “very kind lady” helped to bring them into their loving family.
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