If you have thought about donating your remaining embryos, you have likely considered how you would tell your children about your decision.
We know that this can be a hard conversation to have. The following are a few tips to keep in mind when sharing this news with your children:
1. Be honest about placing your embryos for donation:
Children can tell when we are hiding something from them and, as many families later discover, the truth always comes out in the end. It is best for your child and your relationship to share not only their conception origins, but also that they have biological siblings who do not live in your home. It would also be helpful to reassure them that they are safe in your home and that you will keep taking care of them while the embryos will be taken care of by the adoptive family.
2. Be age-appropriate:
Introduce the concept slowly, with language that makes sense for their age. If you have a very young child, it may be helpful to say something like:
“Mommy and Daddy went to a special doctor so that we could have you. We are so happy to have you in our family! We wanted to make another family just as happy as we are, so we helped them have a baby, too.”
Later on, you could explain that the baby you helped the other family have is their brother or sister, and that they might be able to meet them one day.
If you have an older child, it is best to be direct and straightforward. Sharing your story is something in which you should take a lot of pride. You chose life and a happy, loving family for your remaining embryos! Remember to give them time to process the information, to grieve the fact that they will not grow up alongside another sibling, and to give them space to ask as many questions as they need to.
3. Discuss feelings:
Even though it is difficult, being open about the feelings you are experiencing will help your children be open with theirs. It can also help your children see that this was a very hard decision for you to make. Remind them that it is okay to be sad, but also that there are lots of good things to look forward to! Their sibling or siblings will be given the opportunity to live, grow up, and experience life just like they are doing right now.
4. Involve them in the process:
It may be scary for your child when they think of their sibling living in another home. Involving them in the process can help them feel more comfortable with the adopting family. Perhaps they can help you in the creation of your family profile if you are making one. They can choose special pictures, and maybe even put a note in from themselves to the embryos. Maybe they would like to make a craft or write a short letter for the embryos to have when they get older.
Above all else, it is essential that you remember to keep the conversation window open with your children. Answering their questions and validating feelings when they arise will create a stronger bond between you, and an honest and open environment for them to express themselves safely. To learn more about embryo donation or adoption, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.