Thursday, July 3, 2008

telling the kid about surrogacy

now that we have decided that this is the path we are taking to have our family, we now have to answer the big question: how are we going to tell our child about how they came to be?

one of my most clear memories, is the entire day of my life that culminated in my parents telling me that i was adopted. i was in the 2nd grade. that afternoon i had my two bottom canine teeth pulled. while sitting in my nana's den, eating an orange jelly candy, my mother asked me where i wanted to go to dinner that night. oh the sheer joy and excitement, my parents wanted me to give input on what i wanted. they really cared what i wanted to do and i got to make a decision and they were going to comply and i was not going to have to scream and yell or hold my breath until i turned blue. i started counting all the teeth i had yet to loose and wondering how many the dentist would pull. pulling teeth obviously led to this great and glorious day when i had power, real and true power handed to me without question. there was no question, we would dine in the wonder that was the Old San Fransisco Steakhouse, the fantasy world of all little girls, who aspired to walk across bars. they had a red velvet swing above the bar, and they let kids swing being pushed by a woman dressed in late 1800's whorehouse costume, think Hollywooded up Deadwood. then they gave you a certificate. i probably collected hundreds. now if this was not enough they served this huge block of swiss cheese with a slicer cutty thing. I LOVE CHEESE. my father says, "if you put cheese on dog shit jaymee would eat it." that is a bit of an overstatement, but not too far off the truth.

after all the glorious swinging and cheese eating, it was time to go to bed. i was told to go put on my pjs and come back out. i knew this was too good to be true, i was getting in trouble, it was never good to be told to come and talk. so in my nightgown i sat on the brown velour couch with my parents. the stress was building in my little body. "Your adopted, do you understand what that means?," my mother blurted out. according to my father she had spent weeks working out what she was going to say, and she had a whole speech ready, i never heard that speech. like all adopted children of the late 1970s i had "the chosen baby" book, it was one of my favorite stories, and through that i knew what adoption meant. i remember crying, i do not know why i was crying, but it was one of those awful snotty icky crying. i had suspected that i was adopted a year before they ever told me, and asked my nanny. my sister not being adopted, had pictures taken in the hospital, and i did not. my parents documented our lives so closely, you would have thought they were conducting research. the thought that they would not have a picture of me in the hospital could only have one explanation, i had to be adopted, there was no other option.

my mother then went and got a painting that she bought for our new house. it was 2 star gazer lilies on a black background. i don't know what happened to the painting, i assume my mother sold it when we moved. sadness fills me that someone picked up this canvas at a garage sale, they will never know all the emotions tied up in that piece of art.

being able to remember that day with such clarity is one of the best memories of my life, but it has taken me years to get to this point. i know that my parents wanted to become parents so bad, that they were willing to jump through so many hoops. i am not sure i could have endured all that they did, and i definitely can not imagine worrying for two years that someone could come and take away my child. (at the time i was born the laws gave biological parents two years to change their minds, this is not done anymore) in fact i know i would have been a wreck and there is no way that i could let myself love my child as fully as my parents love me, because i would paralyzed by the fear.

being told that i was adopted was an event in my life. i will always remember that day, because my whole self concept changed. my parents are wonderful caring people who could not love me more. they were working with what they knew, and did an amazing job raising me. out of all the people i know, there is no one that will not do something differently than their parents when it comes to raising their children. for me this will be my change. i will consider myself accomplished as a parent if my child grows up feeling half as loved by me as i do by my parents.

for my child i want something different, i want them to always have known how they came into the world. over the years i have had a lot of friends who were adopted, and it has been my experience that the ones who always knew they were adopted seemed to just accept their adoptions and never give it a second thought. for them it is a natural state of being, their adoptions never defined them as people.

our child will be the product of surrogacy. no shame should ever be attached to this fact. none of us asked for this to be the case. as a little girl, i never thought, one day i am going to grow up and have another woman carry my child. all the same this is how we will make our family happen, through a lot of work, tears, fear, joy, and people who really love each other, our child will come into the world. actually that is not much different than how most children get here, we are just adding a few more people.

a dear friend of mine sent me the book, "Hope and Will Have a Baby", which is a very sweet book. i am so happy my child will have their own version of "The Chosen Baby". still i am left with the question of how do i explain this process to a small child. i got my answer while reading the blog of a gestational surrogate. her young, adopted daughter surprised her with knowing that she was having a surrogate baby for another couple. she simply explained that sometimes women have broken tummys and other women have babies for them, please read the story here, it is simply one of the sweetest story i have read on this subject.

having all this time to think about having a child, makes you think of things that most people never consider. i can not begin to list all the crazy thoughts that have gone through my mind. a happy child, who knows we love them more than anything in the world, is all i really want for them. giving birth to a child in no way makes you a mommy and biology does not make you family. sacrifice, love, constant support, mending scraped knees and hearts, makes a family.


Rayven, 2x gestational surrogate said...

I think you're right in being open and honest, from the beginning, with your child. Children are very adaptable. We don't give them enough credit.

If you start at a young age and make it natural, your child will accept it as natural.

Best wishes on a happy, healthy family.