Talking to older children about bringing home a new baby carried by a surrogate or gestational carrier

Bringing home a baby carried by a surrogate or gestational carrier is, in one sense, an event that’s been months and even years in the making. But on the other hand, especially for young children who may not have known or fully understood all the steps in your family’s fertility journey, bringing home a new baby can feel sudden, even if you’ve already been talking about surrogacy throughout the pregnancy.

What’s different

A lot of the sudden feeling of bringing home a new baby into a household that already includes a child or children would be true no matter how that baby was born. After all, there is nothing like bringing a newborn home – having a pregnant person in the family isn’t the same experience at all.

What is different is that you’ll have explained where the baby is coming from – and, by extension, surrogacy – with your children before this point. Depending on the age and personality of your child or children, this might mean that they want to talk about the new baby – and how they came to be – with more strangers and acquaintances than you might have felt prepared for. If your family has been in close touch with your surrogate or gestational carrier, another possible difference is that your children may have formed a bond with your surrogate or gestational carrier and her family, and may either want to stay in touch, or mourn the end of that relationship after the birth of the new baby. This is a natural response to an adult who has played a large role in the development of your little one’s family.

Finally, if you’ve just had a baby through surrogacy, and you have other young children, it’s a good idea to assume that, if you don’t start out by talking to your new little one about how they were born, they're going to hear about it from their big sibling before you get to it. This means two things. First, that it’s a good idea to be open with your child about the circumstances of their birth, which is also what experts recommend. And second, be prepared for anything you say to an older child to make its way back to your newborn a few years down the line.

What’s the same

The things that are the same about bringing a newborn born through surrogacy to a home that includes a brand new older sibling include most things – the love, the excitement, the frustration when the baby wakes them up again, and the potential for sibling rivalry. As with all new siblings, these first few weeks and months are a great time for parents to facilitate bonding by helping older siblings get involved with and take care of the new baby.

It’s also important, during this time, to make sure to get some one-on-one time with older siblings, and to make sure they know that you and your partner love them just as much as they did before your newborn came along – and just as much as your newborn, no matter how either of them was born.

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