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December 7, 2017

Surrogacy: Do You Tell Your Child?

Surrogacy may be the answer for many families who want to grow, but like any parenting decision, it comes with questions of its own as well. One tough decision parents face is whether to tell their child he or she was born through surrogacy, and if so, when and how.

Most Parents Tell Their Children About Their Surrogacy Journey

There are many different ways families come to be. One particular study published just a few years ago decided to delve into how well-adjusted children who came into families via methods other than traditional conception are. In order to do the study, researchers spoke with families with children who were conceived via surrogate, egg donation, donor insemination, and natural conception. They checked in with the families when the children were aged 3, 7, and 10. When they spoke with the parents at the 7-year-mark, slightly more than half of the children conceived through means other than natural conception had been told, but of those brought into the world via surrogacy, 100% of the parents had spoken with their children about how they came to be.

Maternal Stress Impacts How Children Cope

With the goal of the study being to determine how well-adjusted children were, surveys were given which explored the behaviors of the children as well as the quality of parenting each child received. First and foremost, it’s worth noting that every child in the study tested within the normal range, psychologically speaking, though some did exhibit behavioral problems within the normal range. One of the key findings of the study concluded that “children who were aware of the circumstances of their birth were more vulnerable to the effects of maternal distress,” meaning there was not necessarily a link between children knowing or not knowing and how well-adjusted they were, but if they did know the circumstances of their birth, and their mothers showed signs of distress, the children were more likely to show signs of behavioral problems.

Some Behavioral Differences Fade by Age 10

The study could not conclude if there were differences in children who knew they were born via surrogacy because all children in the surrogacy group were told by age 7.  However, researchers did note that children born via surrogacy did see a spike in behavioral problems (still within the normal range for children) at age 7. However, by age 10, when the children were followed up with, their results were indistinguishable from all other children in the study. Researchers say the same phenomenon occurs with adopted children as well, particularly in overseas adoptions where parents must discuss the adoption to explain racial differences. In essence, learning about one’s origins at an early age may cause some blips during childhood, but learning early also normalizes it for children, so they adapt quickly. Unfortunately, families with high maternal stress who chose to disclose did not fare as well. Researchers believe this is because those children don’t feel the same bond with their mothers.

Should You Tell Your Child?

Ultimately, the choice is yours, and if there’s a single takeaway from this study, it should be that mothers must feel absolutely confident and comfortable with their decision either way. Yes, there is research to suggest it’s beneficial to be open with your child as early as possible, but what matters most is how you feel.

Begin Your Surrogacy Journey

At SPS, we recognize that no two families are exactly the same, nor will any two parents make exactly the same choices. Honoring parental wishes and guiding intended parents through the process is something we’ve been proud to have been entrusted with over the course of hundreds of births. If surrogacy is the right choice for you, call us at (949) 363-9525.