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Deciding when to have the talk about where babies come from can prove to be tricky — for oh so many reasons.
Adding the conversation of surrogacy as one of the different routes to parenthood can pose an additional challenge for parents who aren’t sure what their child is ready for when it comes to learning about pregnancy and childbirth.
There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule on when you should start to talk about surrogacy with your kids, and as such, many parents opt to wait until their kids start asking questions — just like with questions about pregnancy and reproduction in general.
But many psychologists recommend being open and honest about the surrogacy process from the get-go, whether that includes explaining it to a child who was conceived via surrogacy, or if your child is watching you serve as a surrogate.
“Having a baby is an exciting time for any parent-to-be. There are many ways to have a baby today, including more families using a surrogate to achieve parenthood,” says Roseann Capanna-Hodge, EdD, a licensed professional counselor and certified school psychologist in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
“Parents should always try to include their children in the process as much as possible and consider developmental age,” she adds.
A smaller study from 2013 suggests that keeping a child’s surrogacy story a secret can prove to have negative impacts, as it can lead to feelings of shame and distrust as kids grapple with their sense of identity.
“No matter how a new sibling arrives, a new baby in the house can bring a range of emotions, including excitement and jealousy,” Capanna-Hodge says. “Finding ways to connect with this new baby is critical in building great communication and establishing a bond, as well as helping the other children feel secure.”
Fortunately there are a number of resources that can break it down for kids in a fun, respectful, and easy-to-understand way.
“Using books and making art to help the child understand that someone else is helping the baby ‘grow in their belly (or uterus)’ will also help the child gain an understanding that the baby is coming,” Capanna-Hodge says.
“Ultimately, when you feel good about what you are telling your child, they will not only accept it but they will feel good, too,” she says.
Read on for 8 books that will help you do just that.
We chose the below books based on reviews, making sure to focus on a diverse range of storylines covering scenarios such as dealing with infertility, and same-sex couples wanting to grow their families. We were also mindful of choosing with cultural diversity in mind.
All of these books are in the $10–$20 price range.
This book, written by Kimberly Kluger-Bell, explains surrogacy through the story of a koala bear and her husband who enlist the help of another generous koala to carry their child in her pouch.
Reviewers shared that they appreciated that the book doesn’t overcomplicate things and that its beautiful illustrations make it ideal for small children as young as 3.
This book is written from a child’s perspective. The story, by Crystal A. Falk, starts with a young girl named Sophia feeling sad that her crayons are all broken. When her friends step up to share theirs with her, the tone is set for her experience watching her parents decide to help their own friends with surrogacy.
The narrative also addresses what leads the surrogate to choose to help other families by carrying their child, which can make it helpful for kids to see both sides of the equation. This read is recommended for children ages 2 to 6.
Another story that uses an animal analogy, this book by Elizabeth K. Hebl, MD, serves to explain surrogacy and infertility to children by telling the story of a family of possums turning to surrogacy for their second child.
One reviewer noted that it served as a great discussion tool for explaining surrogacy to her kids as a family they know is going through a similar situation. “Penny’s Pocket” is recommended for children under 8 years old.
This book, written by Carla Lewis-Long, is a great resource for same-sex couples wanting to initiate a positive conversation about surrogacy with their child through colorful illustrations and diverse representation.
Reviewers say this book also does a good job of explaining that it’s possible to maintain a lasting relationship with your surrogate after a child is born — however, some folks say they found the details too specific and difficult to apply to their own story.
Written by Anthony Hale, this book takes the opportunity to highlight several variations on a modern family: children conceived via surrogate and children brought home through adoption.
The storyline features a same-sex couple (hence the name) and can serve to educate children about cultural diversity within family structure as well.
“You Began as a Wish,” written by Kim Bergman, PhD, is a great resource for kids interested in learning the science behind where they came from while keeping to easy-to-understand terms.
Ideal for parents wanting to share their journey with infertility, its colorful illustrations also do a good job of incorporating inclusivity with regard to cultural diversity and the LGBTQIA community, per one reviewer.
This is a bilingual book that can be a great resource for Spanish-speaking families wanting to explain surrogacy to their children. Written by Carolina Robbiano, the book tells the story of two parents doing everything they can to have a child they desperately want.
Reviewers praise the book’s graphics, also saying that the narrative does a good job of illustrating the journey of surrogacy in a way that parents can actually relate to.
In this book, author Abigail Glass takes kids through the journey of surrogacy through the eyes of children watching their mother serve as a surrogate for another family.
Per reviews, this book serves as a great resource for families in similar situations, wanting to explain their mom’s pregnancy that won’t result in a new sibling, in a positive and easy-to-understand way.
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