The joy of birth and the wonder of new motherhood and fatherhood perhaps have no comparison in the happiness and pride they bring to new parents. Most couples who want a family are lucky enough to be able to conceive but, as we all know, there are sadly instances where conception remains out of reach because of physical problems or because of the sexual orientation of the prospective parents. Surrogacy and in-vitro fertilisation in the 21st century have not only made the impossible miraculously possible but it is also now becoming very much accepted by western society. However, as much as these technological advances have found a solution to the physical issue, we may have become blinkered to a secondary issue that is now raising its head. How do you tell a child that his or her father was a sperm donor?
As much has society has accepted such methods of conception such as surrogacy, it unfortunately will naturally be tainted with a factor of “not being normal” Children can be brutally wicked with other children who fall outside of the norm and the sacrifice could be bullying, lost self-esteem and a confusion of self-identity.
But both psychology, past evidence with adoption and fostering, and fundamental human rights inform us that the child should have the option of knowing his/her origins. How can anyone travel successfully, confidently and honestly through life without truly understanding where they came from and the elements of their make-up. So maybe the question should not be to tell or not to tell but one of when and how.
The general scientific thoughts are the earlier you tell a child the better. Secrets kept in families can be highly damaging as well as the trauma caused if the secret comes out by accident. If a child is told about their origins in their early formative years they are more likely to be able to adapt to how they entered the world. Also, it is important that the fact is relayed in a positive manner. Sitting your child down one afternoon and preparing them for a deep and dark truth which they need to steel themselves against can only cause trauma.
If you see the surrogacy in a positive light (as I am sure you would if you are the parent) and introduce it to the child in play, casually and generally, the facts are more likely to be easily accepted and understood. Consider putting over the information as a wonderful happening where your child’s birth happened the way it did because she was wanted so much. Not every child is lucky enough to have that much love and respect. In a way you are giving your child the extra confidence he or she will need to stand shoulder to shoulder with her peers in the future.