How to Talk to Kids About IVF, Egg Donation and Surrogacy
When kids are little, they may be told stories about where babies come from. However, as children get older, they often become curious about how babies are really born. If you’re a parent who conceived your child through assisted reproduction, you have an opportunity to tell the honest truth about how in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg/sperm donation or surrogacy factored into your child’s origin story — if that is your choice. When the time comes, you can find a professional psychologist to help you if you need a little extra wisdom and support.
If talking to your child about assisted reproduction scares you or makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. Many moms and dads don’t feel comfortable discussing sex or related topics with their kids, and by the time kids become teens, many of them don’t want to discuss sex with their parents either. However, if you believe your child deserves to understand his or her origin story, or if they are asking about it, here are some tips to make that conversation a little easier.
Start the discussion early.
There are more resources available to help tell the assisted reproduction story to younger kids than there are for teens. (For instance, Janice Grimes, RN, has written a whole series of colorful children’s books, covering the many ways they might have been conceived by assisted reproduction, featuring bear characters and written for ages 3 to 5.)
Because the story will likely unfold over time as details become easier to grasp and your child has more questions, make sure to check back in on the topic often. It’s not uncommon for children to ask about meeting the donor or surrogate who assisted in their birth. Be honest about whether or not this is possible, and try not to become defensive or offended by this question. It is not a reflection of your parenting abilities.
Use loving language.
While discussing fertility treatment will likely veer away from the language of common “kid-friendly” versions of conception, you should not hesitate to inject the story with honest yet emotional words. “We wanted you more than anything in the world,” is often a good way to start. This can have an empowering effect on a child who is learning that his or her story isn’t the same as the one all their friends are hearing.
Seek solace in community support.
As you know, you’re not the only parent struggling with how to talk to your child about their birth story and the process that led to it. Ergo, it’s not a bad idea to find a support group for families of fertility treatment origin. It never hurts to share what’s worked, and what hasn’t, with others who have the same goal in mind: raising a happy, well-adjusted child.
Most psychologists agree that it’s important to be open with your child about his or her origin. If you’re on the same page, start your research and your dialogue today.