By Frank Golden
I often get asked the question, “How did you or how will you tell your children that they were born via Surrogacy?” For me, the answer is easy: I’ve made it a natural part of my children’s lives from day one. My husband, Adam and I have always been open about our Surrogacy Journeys with friends and family; that openness translates into how we’re raising our children as Surro-babies.
Our daughter, Sophia, was about one and a half years old when we began reading her children’s books dedicated to Surrogacy. Two of our favorites are “Sophia’s Broken Crayons” by Crystal Falk and “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson. These books were helpful in explaining our unique family to Sophia. Our son, Silas, will also be exposed to these books once he’s a bit older. The fact that there are children’s books dedicated to Surrogacy gives me hope that gay families and Surro-families are starting to become more integrated into “the norm.”
When Sophia became old enough to engage in conversation, we began pointing out the similarities between her and Adam’s features. We also pointed out the differences between her and I. We made it fun, and eventually it became a game. Now that Silas is in our lives, we incorporate him into the game as well. After meeting her baby brother, Sophia was quickly able to recognize that Silas looks like me and not like other daddy. Sophia also recognized that her and Silas look like each other. Due to us being so open with her at such a young age, Sophia is able to put pieces of the puzzle together herself. She’s making sense of her family in her own way and at her own pace.
As a four-year-old, Sophia has a very general understanding of how she was conceived. She doesn’t understand the medical terms associated with Surrogacy and her conception. She does, however, understand that neither Adam or I birthed her. Sophia understands that a woman had to help her daddies make a baby. We introduced Sophia and Silas to their Surrogates as Aunt Debi and Aunt Janet. If you ask Sophia where she came from, she’ll say, “Aunt Debi grew me in her belly.” She also explains that, “Silas grew inside Aunt Janet’s belly.”
One thing we have not fully addressed with Sophia yet is her relationship with our “Special Friend”, Meagan. Meagan is the Egg Donor for both of our children. We refer to her as our “Special Friend” because we want Sophia and Silas to know that she exists and that she is, in fact, very special to our family. Meagan has been a part of Sophia and Silas’ life since they were born and frequently sends presents and checks in on major milestones. Meagan has a child of her own and another one on the way. It’s interesting for us to think about our children’s half siblings and the special bond they all share. Maybe one day they’ll get the opportunity to meet each other. As much as I would like that, ultimately, that’s a decision for Sophia and Silas to make on their own.
There will come a day when Sophia asks why Meagan is our “Special Friend” and might even wonder why they share similar features. At that point, we’ll know that Sophia is ready for more information about her conception. We are letting her guide her own discoveries about herself and about our family. Adam and I decided early on that when more questions begin to arise, we’ll answer openly and honestly.
For mine and Adam’s family, our strategies for revealing Sophia and Silas’ origins have worked out for us. We always promote being honest with your children as we feel it creates a stronger bond between us and them. What has worked for us might not work for everyone. This is especially true for heterosexual Intended Parents. Gay IPs and heterosexual IPs have varying factors to consider when discussing surrogacy with their children. As two gay men, we are unable to conceal the fact that we did not birth our children. They will eventually learn that it takes a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm to create a baby. The fact that we’re both men made the decision to share certain details with our children easier.
Although heterosexual Surrogacy Journeys bare different emotional implications than homosexual Surrogacy Journeys, I still feel it’s best to be honest with your child. I’ve gathered valuable insight from our heterosexual IP clients on whether they share sensitive details with their Surro-children, and how they do it. Many of our heterosexual IPs are, in fact, very open about their children’s origins. They enjoy telling their children just how badly they wanted them and how hard they had to try. They stress how special their child is and how lucky they are to have them.
My personal experience with explaining Surrogacy to my children has been natural. My opinion regarding this very sensitive topic is just that- an opinion. It is neither right or wrong; it’s simply what’s worked for Adam and me. If you do choose to tell your children that they are Surro-babies, tell them how much you wanted them. Tell them how hard you worked to have them. Let them know how loved they are.
Regardless of your parenting method, remember that Everyone Deserves a Family no matter the circumstance.