Ask The Surrogate: Explaining Surrogacy to Children

Moms sitting with two young girls overlooking Vermont foliage scene

At Vermont Surrogacy Network, we understand that it can take a village to create a family. Since 2014, we have helped create countless amazing relationships between intended parents and gestational surrogates.

In our blog series, Ask the Surrogate, we feature stories and advice from our incredible gestational surrogates. Each week covers a different topic they can offer insight on -- from their own experiences of love and courage. 

This installment looks at how our surrogates discussed surrogacy with their children and provided answers to their questions. Get insight on how to have these conversations with confidence and sensitivity.

How Did You Explain Surrogacy to Your Kid?

On Your First Surrogacy Journey

Ashley S, who had one surrogate pregnancy and looks forward to another, shares: 

My kids were so unfazed by it. I don’t know if their response, or lack of, is typical. Our experience was also different because it was right at the beginning of Covid, so they didn’t meet the parent until the week I had the baby. But he brought them presents, so they loved him and we cannot wait to do it again!

Elise N, currently experiencing her first surrogacy journey, made sure her children knew the facts: 

My kids understand how babies are “made” on a basic level, that female bodies have eggs and male bodies have sperm (they also know about transgender males and females, so they know this from a gender-at-birth standpoint). They know that our intended parents are two men, so they can’t fertilize and grow a baby on their own. So we are growing them a baby. They feel like it’s very straightforward.

Hannah D, pregnant on first surrogacy journey, read to her children as a great starting point:

We read “The Kangaroo Pouch” to our girls and simply explained to them that there are many different ways to create a family.

Justine D, after one surrogacy pregnancy, talked about helping others: 

I told mine that momma was going to have a baby for another family since that momma couldn’t have any more babies. They took the whole journey so well. We also love to visit with the IPs’ family about once a year.

Kelsey F, who had one surrogacy pregnancy, explained that there are intended parents:

My kids were 2 and 4 at the beginning of the process. We told them that Mama had a baby in her belly, but it was not our baby, it was R and J’s (the intended parents). They had met the IPs on FaceTime calls. It seemed totally normal to my kids that just because someone had a baby in their belly, it didn’t mean it was their baby.

Cristy W, after experiencing one surrogacy pregnancy, reflects: 

My kids were little: 2,4,6. It was explained that some bodies are different. Some bodies can make a baby all on their own and some need extra help from science and new friends. When everything is all set and ready to go, the baby will be transferred to Mommy. Mommy will grow their baby and give it back to the parents. They knew it was a wonderful gift for someone else. The kids always knew that the baby was not coming home, that it had already found one.

Kayla C, pregnant on her first surrogacy journey, found a wonderful book: 

We read the book “My Mom Is A Surrogate,” and I asked how they would feel if I grew a baby for someone else to have and love after I gave birth to it. “Well, that’s kind and makes someone smile, so it’s the right thing to do” is how my 7-year-old responded. I explained how doctors took a piece of a woman and a man and made a tiny tiny baby and put it in my body with a straw to grow into a full-size baby. They met the IF (intended father) virtually and asked about holding the baby before he brings it home. He thought it would be a wonderful idea! So thankful for my IF and how thoughtful of my own family he has been.

Katie P, pregnant on her first surrogacy journey, started the important conversation early:

I think an initial conversation – we have little kids, so we included books and had them meet the IPs right away. Since the initial conversation, it’s been an ongoing dialogue!

Jennifer D, also on her first surrogacy journey, is lucky: 

I lucked out because my children (7, 10, and 12) had friends whose mom had been a surrogate, so they already sort of understood that I would be having a baby for someone else and not bringing one home. When I first asked them if they would be okay with me being a surrogate, they all agreed that they were fine with me having a baby as long as I promised that I wasn’t bringing one home because none of them wanted another sibling.

Ashley A, who is pregnant for her first surrogacy journey, spoke to her older kids:

My kids are older: 14 and 9. So we asked them if they minded if mommy had a baby for someone else. We told them I would carry the baby in my tummy, and then the baby would go home with their parents. We also introduced them to the IPs (intended parents), so they could picture it better.

With Your Second Surrogacy

Lisa M, who is pregnant for her second surrogate journey, had kids who already knew about surrogacy:

I have 3 older children, all boys. They were 12, 16, and 20 when I started my first journey and were really indifferent to their mom being pregnant and carrying a baby for strangers. I have a friend who was a surrogate twice before me, so they understood that the baby had no biological connection to me, their father or them, and that we were helping another family grow. We’ve always described it as “extreme babysitting”. We did realize when my youngest was innocently telling his friends that his mom was pregnant, but it wasn’t his dad’s that we probably could have talked a little more about how we explain surrogacy to others, though!

Now on my second journey, they are 14, 18, and 22, and love and appreciate what surrogacy means (and can explain it a lot better now).

Sarah W, who has already had one surrogacy pregnancy and is currently pregnant with her second, talked about health concerns: 

In having children that are teenagers and beyond, their concerns were more about my health during the process. We discussed the risks and that with the medical evaluations and testing, they minimize this at all costs.

Ceili Q, after two surrogacy pregnancies, explained it like babysitting: 

Extreme babysitting! We involved the kids, explained the process of helping another family grow, reviewed some fun anatomy charts and different ways babies come into this world, and always reminded them that we were just babysitting until the babies were ready to go back to their family.

Ready to Start Exploring Surrogacy?

If you've ever considered surrogacy but aren’t sure where to start, this series is for you. Our surrogates have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share, and they’re excited to do so.

Keep an eye out for future posts in the series, and if you have any questions you’d like us to ask our surrogates, feel free to contact us. We hope that by sharing these stories, we can help more people create their families through gestational surrogacy.