As unusual a process as surrogacy may be to date, the only one you really need to get the story right for is your child!
Kids are easy. If you couch it in positive terms and begin the story early enough, they won’t have any trouble with it.
In my case, the very first time my child made an incorrect assumption, I corrected him and out came the story. For me it’s as if it happened yesterday. I’ll never forget this moment.
We were shopping at Heinen’s and met a woman from the JCC who was very pregnant. She was carrying twins! I called my children’s attention to her. I said, “Boys look! This Mama has a secret inside her belly! She is pregnant and carrying twins. Their are two babies inside her tummy. When they are ready they will come out and won’t be such a secret anymore!” My boys were about 2 or 3 at the time and very excited about this news.
When we got in our car, Jarvie said, “Mama and that’s what happened to us too. You were pregnant and we were in your tummy.”
That’s when I said, “No our story is a bit different. Mama didn’t have the right stuff to make a baby. Mama couldn’t carry you in my tummy. So I found some people to help me. One of the people was a nice lady named Mandy. She was kind enough to carry you guys around in her tummy, until you were ready to come out. Mama was right there when you were born and Mama was so happy to see you, when you finally did come out.” Maybe we can call Mandy your tummy Mommy.
And that was the beginning of telling our story. It was enough to answer some questions and not lead them astray. They were completely satisfied and replayed this new information over and over again in the weeks to come.
Once I had started the process, it was easy to fill in the blanks when they had questions about other parts of the story. So we just worked on a little bit at a time. Just enough to digest.
Because I started at the first moment in which they embraced questions about how they came to be, I never had any anxiety about when to tell them what. It was more like a tapestry that I was weaving with them over time that told their story. It was actually a really fun process. A mystery to be unfolded, if you will. Consequently, I think my boys are very comfortable with their story.
I think my boys miss not having a Dad, but for many reasons, many families don’t have Dads. Jarvie and Giles are lucky enough to have strong male figures in their lives that they have constant contact with. This eases to pain of not having a Dad, up to a point. Frankly, I wish they had a Dad too, but to date, we simply haven’t been lucky enough to have one!
The real question here is how will you explain to your child how they came to be. What age is the right age to have the talk? Can you open things up so that when they are small they first understand the essential rudiments their story and then learn more as they are able to handle more?
My model was taken largely from teachings from University Hospitals of Cleveland’s International Adoption classes, in which they encourage and advise that you share your child’s story with them at the earliest age possible, so they never know anything different than their own true story. They advise further to share it all. Share the good, the bad and the ugly.
In our case, those of us who choose surrogacy are spared the ugly. We are further able to shield our children from anyone rejecting them. They were never rejected, they were always wanted. They grew in our hearts, long before they became an actual child. We are fortunate and so are our children, because they were always wanted. This fact, clearly makes the telling of their story to them vastly easier, than the story of adoption.
Best of luck with the crafting of your family creation story! Tell us below when your child first asked about or made reference to their story and how you handled it.
Lisa J Lafave, PhD, MBA, ACC
The Surrogacy Coach from Surrogacy Rocks
The CEO and Founder of Coaching Rocks, LLC
Single Mom By Choice Raising Surrogacy Twin Boys
Written in My Little Brick in University Heights, Ohio