By Bridget Bolthouse
I’ve always had a passion for family. My husband and I have five children all under the age of 11. I love everything about motherhood. This is not to say that things don’t get a bit hectic at times- because they do. It’s just that the love I feel for my family is beyond anything else, and I can’t imagine life without it. I feel blessed to be a mother, a parent. And really, parenthood is just that- a blessing. I want to bless deserving individuals with their own families. I want them to feel the love I feel every day. Becoming a Surrogate was an obvious choice.
My husband, Adam was the first person I told about my desire to become a Surrogate. We’ve always had an honest relationship based on strong communication. A few years ago, Adam was in the military and was away from our family. Even then, we managed to maintain our communication. We make all decisions as a team, and this decision was no different. Adam had questions and concerns, as did I. We carefully researched and discussed every aspect of Surrogacy prior to coming to a decision. With our questions answered and our concerns addressed, we began getting excited for the journey ahead of us. Adam firmly believed, and still does, that being a Surrogate is my calling. I wholeheartedly agree with him.
As parents, Adam and I cannot make decisions without the consent of our children. We wouldn’t allow for our actions to upset or confuse them. Beyond anything else, their feelings mattered. Adam and I sat down with the kids for a family talk. We began by explaining that some families need help getting started. We explained that because we love our family so much, we want to help other families grow. We told them that I could help by growing a baby in my tummy. My kids were interested and wanted to know if the baby was going to live with us, or essentially, if the baby was going to be their new sibling. We explained that the baby would not live with us nor would it be their sibling, that it would live with its family. We reminded them that mommy is going to grow a baby in her belly for a different family, not ours. We discussed the types of situations in which a family might need help. We explained that some families have two dads, or a single dad. We told them about moms who are unable to carry their own babies. We enjoy opening our children’s minds to all kinds of possibilities and all kinds of love.
And honestly, that was enough for them. They understood the process as much as children can. They also completely accepted it. Much like Adam and myself, our children were excited to begin this process. Their only true concern was whether they’d be able to hold the baby. My son, Brayden, was especially concerned with wanting to see the baby’s toes. I’m not sure where his fascination with the baby’s toes stemmed from, but that’s what’s so cool about kids- they never stop making you laugh.
I wanted to make sure that my kids felt completely comfortable with this process; if they felt the need to see and hold the baby, I wanted to make sure they were able to do so. Therefore, it was essential that I be matched with IPs who were comfortable with my family’s involvement. This requirement was for my family and for myself. I didn’t want for this process to feel like a business transaction; it’s so much more than that. It’s about love and life. Luckily, my IPs were amazing and wanted to remain a part of mine and my family’s lives. We continue to stay in touch.
After I became pregnant, my children went above and beyond to help me. During the first thirteen weeks of pregnancy, I was plagued with horrible morning sickness. My children took care of me the entire time. As a mother, I’m used to being the caretaker. It warmed my heart to see my children giving back to me in that way. I could see how much they cared about me and about the healthy development of the baby.
As my belly grew, so did my children’s involvement. With their faces pressed up against my belly, they spoke to the baby, “You have to grow big and strong for your new parents. They can’t wait to meet you!” They were incredibly sensitive to the process. They were aware of how huge this was.
To be honest, Adam and I predicted that our children would be receptive to my Surrogacy Journey. Our family happens to be untraditional, or as we like to say, unique. Of our five children, two of them are adopted; they both are of African American decent. Our adopted children know that they were birthed by a special person who couldn’t care for them the way she would have liked. They understand and accept this. Our other three children are biological and were all born via IVF. My oldest son, Benny has special needs and requires patience and extra care. There are many things that set us apart from the average family. However, we have never made any of our children feel different. We are a unique family and extremely proud of it.
In addition to our already unique family structure, Adam and I fostered children for seven years. My children were a huge part of this process. We made sure to educate them on fostering and answered all of their questions and concerns. As new “friends” came and left, my children’s love and acceptance continued to grow. They welcomed each addition with open arms never once making them feel out-casted, or as if they weren’t part of the family.
Adam and I are happy with how we handled the decision to become a Surrogate. We always want to maintain open lines of communication between our children and us. For our family, this works. Even though I can’t speak for everyone, I do believe that being honest with your kids is the best option. They might surprise you with how much they understand.
It’s hard to believe that we’re beginning our second journey now. Our kids are just as excited as before. They are still concerned with holding the baby, and Brayden is still concerned with the baby’s toes. Some things don’t change. Fortunately, my children will get the opportunity to meet the baby and its toes; I was matched with another awesome IP who understands the importance of my family. My kids will always come first. Honestly, this process is becoming more and more natural to them. Recently, we watched the movie Storks as part of our family night. My kids were not amused. Their response: “Storks don’t bring babies to families. Our mommy does.”