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Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Birds And The Bees, Version 2.0

When is a good time to tell your children where they came from?

We always knew that we were going to be open and honest with our kids about how they came to this world, but we also understood right from the get go that our messages must be age appropriate. We didn't want our children to be confused, feeling insecure or overwhelmed with too much information, obviously.

There is a saying: It takes a village. Well, for our family it is literally a true statement. My husband, Eli, and I have two beautiful daughters. Milo is five years old and Demi is 19 months old. To have them, we needed to go through two surrogacy journeys with the help and support of a wonderful egg donor, two amazing gestational carriers, doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, attorneys and our close family, of course. Both Milo and Demi share the same egg donor and have a different biological dad; one girl is biologically Eli's and one is biologically mine.

When Milo was little and we were younger with very little experience, we didn't know how to be open with Milo about surrogacy, or what was the 'right' way to explain to her where she came from. Our instincts, though, guided us to take actions that turned out to be what was needed to have an ongoing open channel of communication about this topic in our family.

For example, we had placed framed photos of both Milo and her gestational carrier, Audra, post-birth throughout the apartment (and later we did the same with Demi and her gestational carrier, Jessica). We kept in touch with Audra and Jessica through visits, social media, Skype, and periodic exchange of photos.

These actions were exactly what was needed to get little Milo involved and curious about the special people that helped us during our two journeys. And hopefully we will do the same with Demi when she gets a bit older.

As Milo grows up, the conversation about where she came from continues; it gets more advanced and detailed.

On 'Connected' episode 14, viewers can see Eli and I reading to Milo the children's book "Gal and Noa's Daddies", by Shosh Pinkas. This book takes the complicated topic of surrogacy and brings it into a kid's world.

In the same episode, you can see our family Skype with Audra and later with Jessica, Demi's gestational carrier, and in episode 16 you can see Eli and I meeting with our IVF physician Dr. Michael Doyle. Later, our family spends some quality time with Jessica.

Although the complete explanation of how our kids came to this world is complex, Milo can express today that she has two dads and that she doesn't have a mom. She understands that families can come in all shapes and sizes, that some families have a dad and a mom, others have two moms, two dads, one mom, one dad, etc.

She can explain that to have a baby one needs a piece of a woman and a piece of a man and that sometimes families need to get some help from other wonderful people to have a baby.

Even today in Milo's preschool class, there are twin sisters with two moms. Think about this for one second -- kids in Milo's class have the opportunity to see firsthand, one family with two moms and another family with two dads. There is nothing more natural for them than that because they experience daily that families come in all shapes and sizes!

My husband and I made a pledge years ago to continue and work hard to keep the channel of communication with our children about how they came to this world open and honest. That was a smart decision, which we plan to keep, as well as expand with any challenge that comes our way.


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