Talking to friends and family about how your family was formed

Depending on who makes up your family, now that Baby is here, you may not hear too many questions about where she came from unless you bring up the question of surrogacy yourselves. On the other hand, single parents and same-sex couples may find themselves answering questions about their little ones’ origins until long after their kids are adults.

However, even for genetically related mom-and-dad couples who are parents through surrogacy, every once in a while, the question of what your fertility journey looked like may come up. And while questions about fertility and reproductive health can feel intrusive and uncomfortable, having an idea of how you’d like to respond ahead of time can help you to feel more in control of the situation.

Balancing need-to-know against nothing-to-hide

On the one hand, questions about your child’s gestation and birth can feel intrusive and uncomfortable for a reason; no one is owed an explanation of how your family came to be. It’s up to you what you want to share with the world in general about your family’s origins and health information.

On the other hand, though, as your child grows, it’s important to remember that she will be watching how you answer questions about how she came to be, and that there’s a good chance that she will take her cues for how to feel about it from you. This means that if a new neighbor asks a question about your reproductive history, you may find yourself needing to balance your personal feelings about how much you may want to share with this person against the fact that, if your child senses that you’re embarrassed to talk about the circumstances of her birth, she may internalize that as embarrassment about her. Making sure to talk to your child directly about her origins is an important step, but it’s not the only step.

Reacting to your child’s reaction

If Baby is interested in her origins, there may be a phase in her life where you can expect her to be the one bringing up the subject – even with people you’d prefer her not to. On the other hand, she may go through stages of discomfort or self-consciousness with the subject. As she grows, it will be important to keep the conversation open about what she wants to share with the world, what you want to share with the world, and where both of your points of view can meet.

And right now, when she is too young to understand what you’re saying? Now is a great time to practice what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it, so that by the time you’re telling your family’s story to your verbal tot, you’ve had as many dress rehearsals as you need to feel comfortable and confident in what you’re saying.

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