When you have a big brother or sister in your home who is about the get a new surrogate sibling, it’s important to address the issue accordingly. Preparing for a new surrogate baby on the way will have a slightly different process because there’s a good chance your current child won’t witness the stages of pregnancy unless your child meets the surrogate carrier.
“Children are amazingly understanding when it comes to hearing ‘hard’ things,” says Gail Sexton Anderson, the founder of Donor Concierge and co-founder of DIY egg donor search platform, Tulip. “We worry that it will be too much for them but in reality, if a child is given information that is correct and matter of fact and in language that is aimed at their age group, they are very likely to accept the situation in a healthy manner.”
It’s never too early to start talking to your children. It’s usually best to keep things simple and answer the questions as they come. “There is no need to avoid answering questions, but there is also no need to share more information than is requested,” says Anderson. For addressing the topic of a sibling coming from a surrogate, she recommends talking to a therapist who specializes in third party reproduction if you’re feeling unsure of how to start the conversation.
“It’s also okay to ask your child what they think or why they are asking a question. Sometimes what they are asking might not be what we think. Children don’t have preconceived ideas of how families are created. The important thing is to keep communication open, honest and age appropriate.” Anderson also singles out books about surrogacy that can help the conversation.
Read on for specific tactics.
Create a ‘baby book’ together with your older child so that they can be part of the journey.
“You could make it a scrapbook with pictures of you and your child, copies of the ultrasound or a photo of the surrogate,” says Anderson. “My friend Lisa Schuman, LCSW created a ‘Lifebook’ for this reason – to help families document a child’s journey.”
When matching with your surrogate, ask her if your older child could meet her.
“If you’re doing virtual calls, have your child on the conversation so that she can show off her pregnant belly. The surrogate likely has young children of her own – ask her how she explained it to her kids too!”
You can share with your child in an age appropriate way how babies are made.
“For example: Mummy...s uterus (or tummy) is broken so the surrogate is helping us. There are all kinds of families, some have two mums, some have two dads, some have just one parent but not all of these parents have a working uterus. The uterus is a special place where babies grow. When the baby is ready to come into the world we will take them home with us.”