Emotional Health of Surrogate Children/Children Born Via Surrogacy to Gay Dads Share Their Story
Much has been written about the emotional and mental health of women who choose to become egg donors or gestational surrogates, making a generous, life-affirming decision for the benefit of another couple. Up until now, however, little has been studied on the emotional health of surrogate children. As the surrogacy process grows in popularity, it’s important to ask the question, is the emotional health of children who are born to surrogate mothers affected in any way?
At its 2014 Surrogacy Seminar and Gay Parenting Expo, Men Having Babies, in conjunction with the Family Equality Council’s Outspoken Generation program, asked five teens who were born via surrogacy to gay dads to speak about any of their challenges growing up. These children, ages 13 to 18, represented a wide variety of families with surrogate children across the United States. Each teen was obviously emotionally well-adjusted and quite well-spoken.
A 13-year-old twin whose dads are Greg and Ron, lives in the Bronx, NY. She noted, “We are a family because we love each other and that’s what makes a family.” When she was younger and other kids would ask her why she has two dads, she would explain to them, “I was made in a science lab, and then I was given to this nice lady, and she had me in her tummy, and then she gave me to my parents because my parents really wanted me and my brother. I am related to my parents fully.” She said she didn’t mind answering such questions, as it was her pleasure to be able to spread awareness that her family situation really isn’t all that different from anyone else’s.
Age 18, is one of the first children born to LGBTQ parents through surrogacy. “I couldn’t be more proud about my family, but I wasn’t always so brave about my family, either,” she said. Over the years growing up, she has learned that she can use her family’s story to change others’ minds. “I could not be more grateful for my family and for the incredible, pioneering work of my parents,” she said. “It’s been a journey, and it hasn’t always been easy, but what my parents have done for others is priceless.”
When the children were asked if they have any sort of relationship with their surrogates or egg donors, answers were mixed. One girl, Cece, age 14, noted that she has a strong relationship with her surrogate and calls her “mommy.” They call each other frequently and Skype on their birthdays.
Others, such as 16-year-old Travis, have no relationship with their surrogate. “Sometimes the family you have at hand is all that matters, the people who raised you and the people who have loved you since you were born,” he said.
Malina agreed. She noted that she is grateful to her surrogate and respects the fact that she wouldn’t have been born without her, but she has never met her surrogate and doesn’t even know her name.
Experts in child psychology and development note that the best way parents can prevent emotional problems in children born to surrogates is to be completely honest with them about their origins. Starting at a young age, it is important for parents to explain to a child, in understandable language, how he or she was born. There are many books available on the subject (link to article on books) that can greatly assist parents in this important educational process.
Eleanor agrees. “Be honest with them no matter what,” she said. “If they’re old enough to ask, they’re old enough to know.” Children should realize that their conception and birth is a secret to be held within the family. A surrogate child must understand that his birth is a wonderful gift that was given to him by a surrogate, a woman who donated space in her uterus in which the child could develop and grow.
To view the seminar and hear more of the kids’ answers, visit their video on YouTube.
Simple Surrogacy works with families, giving them the knowledge and tools to be able to decide how to tell their own children the magical story of their births. If you are interested in learning more about our surrogacy process, contact us today!