Guest Blog: How Was I Born?
When we first started on the journey of surrogacy, the surrogacy agency requested that we meet with a therapist as a part of the process. At first, I was offended and did not understand why this step was necessary. I questioned in my mind whether it was because we were a same-sex couple and if all couples had the same request made of them. After meeting with the therapist, however, I quickly realized the value in taking the time to discuss various scenarios that may arise in a non-traditional family and ways to address those scenarios in a developmentally appropriate manner for the child.
When our first child was born, we were prepared to discuss our family structure and were well equipped to address the fact that not all families are the same. Some families have a mother and a father, some have two dads or two moms, and some have only one parent. Those talking points were well practiced and well received by our kids.
With that scenario addressed, we fell into a bit of complacency. I was completely surprised, therefore, when I picked up our six-year-old daughter from school one day and she asked how she was born. Luckily, I was driving, so she did not see my expression of shock. I remembered that the therapist emphasized that we should use proper terms for body parts and biological functions, but I was not really sure what was “age appropriate” for a six-year-old. I also knew that my reaction to her question would, in part, determine her own comfort and confidence in the answer and in our family’s non-traditional structure.
When this question was brought up with the therapist, she suggested that, for this developmental age, we talk about the elements that are needed to make a baby. So, I explained to our daughter that it took multiple parts to make a baby- the sperm, the egg and the uterus. To my surprise, she understood this concept and was comfortable talking about it. I was ready to breathe a sigh of relief when she then asked: “So which one of you was it?” It took me a minute to realize that she was asking which of her Dad’s was her biological father. This was not something we had ever discussed with the therapist and only briefly had we addressed it as a couple. My instinct was to tell her which of us was her biological father and I remembered the therapist telling us how important it was to be truthful. I took a deep breath and told her which of us it was. She said “OK” and was on to the next subject (which was a review of who played with whom on the playground).
That moment started the narrative that will be retold and discussed again and again in our home. It will be a narrative that will be shared and understood by all in our family. It is a narrative based on truth and facts and told with love. It is our hope that this will serve our children well as they discover who they are in this family and in this world.
Mark Green lives with his husband and three daughters in Washington, DC. After a fulfilling 20 year career in media, Mark chose to be a stay-at-home dad and enjoys the adventures of parenthood.