Post from Ellen. Oh, and happy 4th of July!
When people find out I'm a surrogate they often ask how my girls feel about it and reacted to the news. Chris and I struggled with deciding when and how to tell them. Kerri and Jason were invited to our Easter celebration and to meet the extended family (and yea...there are a ton of us!). All of our family knew, and we thought it wouldn't be fair for all the adults there to know what was going on, and keep the girls in the dark. While we were very early in the pregnancy, having just gotten our positive betas, were all cautiously optimistic, but didn't want to tell the girls we were pregnant, and then have to deliver bad news if anything happened. We kept putting it off, and finally decided to tell them a few days before. They had met Kerri, who they just knew as a friend of mine, and of course had heard us talk about Jason. We were at dinner and the conversation went like this:
Me: So, I have something to tell y'all...
Girls: (Staring blankly at me like uh oh...what's she about to say...)
Me: Remember when I had A for S & C?
Girls: (Still staring...wondering where this is going...)
Me: Well, you know Kerri and Jason? They want a baby, and need a little help having one, so mommy is going to carry their baby for them. Actually I'm already pregnant, but it's super early, so you don't have to go shouting from the rooftops just yet.
Girls: (Eyes lighting up, like I can see the cartoon light bulbs going off over their collective heads)
Claire: (Who is 12, going on 22, gorgeous, smart, and uber talented, even if she can be a crazy pre-teen brat) That's why you've been going to the doctor a lot! I knew something was up!! Wait...is it going to be our half-sibling like A?
Me: ( uh oh...here comes the biology/anatomy lesson at dinner) Nope, it's not related to us at all. It's Jason and Kerri's embryo. The doctor mixed Jason's sperm with Kerri's egg, they froze the embryo, then transferred it to me. Cool, huh!
Lily: (Lily just turned 10. She is the sweetheart. Can be very sensitive, and quiet, but is so funny, cutest dimples ever, and is my nurturing little mama) Can we keep the baby for like a month before Jason and Kerri take it home?!
Me: Um, no. We can't keep the baby.
Lily: (looks disappointed) Well, can I at least hold it in the hospital?
Me: Of course. I'm sure Jason and Kerri will let you hold the baby.
Nora: (who is 7, sassy, precocious, funny, crazy, and adorable. That girl can get away with anything) Shew...before you said it was for Jason and Kerri I was like nuh uh, no way, you are not bringing a baby in my house!
At this point Chris and I looked across the table at each other and we just smiled at each other. I was (and am) so proud of them. I don't know why I expected them to react any differently than they did. They are incredible kids, and have been our biggest cheerleaders. They constantly ask questions about the baby, and Nora even offered a name suggestion...Carlos (idk where she got that), but I'm sure Jason and Kerri put it on their short list. ;) My girls are the reason I am a surrogate. They are my pride and joy. My world. My reason for being. (Being crazy at times, but I wouldn't change it for anything.) I look at my girls and I cannot imagine anyone wanting to experience the joy of parenthood, and not being able to. If I can help Jason and Kerri have that, why wouldn't I?
So my suggestion for surrogates regarding when and how to tell their kids is that it really varies. There are so many variables: how old are they? how mature? what is the relationship like with the IPs? what are the pros and cons to telling them sooner rather than later? For us, our timing worked out perfectly. I also suggest that you tell them just enough to satisfy their curiosity. I told my girls that they can also ask me any questions they have about the whole process and I will answer them honestly. And if there is a question I can't answer, I'll research and ask around until I can answer it. Surrogacy isn't just about the surro. It's also about her husband, children, and extended family as well. I am so lucky in that my family supports this journey whole-heartedly. Thrills me that Jason and Kerri have become a part of our family, hopefully forever, and to me that's the perfect surrogacy relationship.