So often in creating families through surrogacy, we forget that there are already children that have a voice. The families of surrogates come in all shapes and sizes, but the one consistency in all of them is the unbelievable love and acceptance given by the kids who watch from the sidelines.
Lilianne Turk and Meredith Logan are two surrogates who shared an inside look at the impact surrogacy had on their children.
Lilianne Turk is 34 years old and lives in Southern California. She is married and has three of her own children. She has been a surrogate twice. She delivered a baby girl in spring 2013 and is currently pregnant with twin boys who are siblings of the first baby. She is due to have them in a few days.
When she decided to become a surrogate and matched with her IPs, she told her kids immediately. She didn’t want to hide anything from them. “I really wanted them to understand that I was doing it to help someone else have the joy that I have being a parent. I also wanted to make sure they were on board and were supportive in my decision before I went forward,” said Lillianne.
Her kids reacted positively. They were thrilled at the prospect of helping another family. Lillianne’s youngest didn’t understand as much as the older kids, but the vibe from the family gave her the signal to move forward.
Once Lilianne got pregnant, the kids each played a role in helping her. The oldest child helped babysit the younger siblings and helped with chores around the home, as Lilianne was getting bigger. Her youngest child would help hold the heating pad on her injection site after she did her shots. Every little bit counted. They were excited to be a part of the journey.
The kids would rub Lilianne’s belly and laugh when the babies moved around. They were excited for the IPs and their little faces would light up with joy when they got to see ultrasound pictures. In the first pregnancy, the kids were able to see the happiness on the faces of the IPs. Now that Lilianne is pregnant with twins, her kids are able to see the reaction of the little girl she previously gave birth to. She is so excited to have two siblings on the way. “I think that shows them what a huge impact you can make on someone else’s life,” said Lilianne.
One of the questions that frequently gets asked of surrogates is, do your children understand that the baby isn’t coming home with you after the birth? For some it is difficult to realize that children have the capacity to grasp this concept at a very young age. Lilianne explains how simple it really is for her kids. “As I am showing more further along in the pregnancy my kids frequently get comments from strangers at the store asking them if they are excited to have a new brother/sister. My kids are always quick to let them know it’s not our baby, and that we are carrying him/her for someone else.”
The relationship children have with the surrogate babies after they are born can vary, but in most cases it is a encouraging one. In Lilianne’s case, her IPs don’t live close so they don’t see them in person often, but they enjoy seeing updates about the baby. “To them it’s like having a cousin who lives far away.”
The impact surrogacy has on the children involved can be tremendous. One can only imagine how that will reverberate through their lives. “I think it has affected them for the better. They have learned so much about helping others. Being giving selflessly, they learn that not everything is always about them. They know now that there are people out there that struggle with infertility and see how much it means to them to have a family.”
Meredith Logan, 35, lives in North Liberty, Iowa. She has been married for 11 years and has three children of her own, ages 15, 10, and 8. She has been a surrogate for two different couples. The first journey she gave birth to a baby boy in February, 2011 and the second journey she gave birth to twin girls in June, 2012.
Because Meredith’s children were much younger when she first started, they really didn’t show much interest in the beginning. Once they did start trying to explain surrogacy, it was presented in very simplistic terms. They told them there was a woman who wanted to be a mommy very badly, but her belly was broken. Meredith’s belly wasn’t broken so the doctor was going to put the tiny babies in her belly for her to grow and when the baby was ready, it would come out and go home with its Mommy and Daddy.
Her first journey was very long with years of setbacks. The second journey went quickly so her children could see the progress happening before their eyes. They understood the explanation and didn’t ask further questions at the time. Meredith said, “It amazes me that children understand the simplicity of surrogacy so much better than most adults. Children don’t overthink and complicate it. They will even educate people if someone makes a negative comment regarding surrogacy.”
For the first journey, her kids went through periods of time where they paid no attention to what was going on and then they had periods of being very curious. She even let them do some of her injections! They were definitely more interested by the end and gave the baby a unique nickname. She delivered several hours away so the kids were not able to visit at the hospital, but were super excited to see a picture of him. The second journey they were much more involved from the beginning, as they were quite close with the IPs throughout the process. The pregnancy started as a surprise triplet pregnancy and her children were fascinated that there were three babies in her belly. “The third fetus naturally reduced and my middle child said some very sweet things about the babies and their parents even months after the loss. It was a difficult pregnancy and I was unavailable to my family for much of the time. My children were amazing and understanding which helped to lessen my guilt.”
Meredith explains that her children always understood the babies were not coming home with us. They never questioned it. “They will adamantly tell you they don’t want anymore brothers or sisters!”
Meredith says her children don’t have a close relationship with her first IPs, but when they receive an occasional picture, they are curious to see how he is growing. “We recently met up with the family for the first time since they left the hospital 3.5 years ago. My kids enjoyed meeting him but didn’t have a connection with him.”
They have a totally different relationship with her second IPs and the twins. “They thoroughly enjoy going to see them to hang out. They are the first to remind me that we need to plan a road trip to go see them soon.”
Meredith feels she has provided a huge opportunity through surrogacy for her children to witness a beautiful life lesson. “They say they think it’s very cool that I helped grow families for people that needed help.”
You can ream more about Meredith’s story titled: “Rewarding Results.”