Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where do Babies Come From?

Today's New York Times story on surrogacy raises a great point about how our society will need to broaden the conversations around how children come into the world. With different types of families and with growing methods of childbirth, it may no longer be sufficient to tell the story as the "birds and the bees"

I found myself reading the article and imagining how I would explain childbirth to my children. I ended my thought experiment grateful that my children are still MANY years away from coming to earth. But I am curious how others would describe surrogacy and other methods of childbirth to children.

One parent, Joan Lunden, provided this example for explaining surrogacy in the Times: "Cupcakes. 'It’s almost like we can’t cook the cupcakes in our oven because the oven is broken,' she said. 'We’re going to use the neighbor’s oven.'"


Tania Torres said...

I think the issue here is that "childbirth" and "conception" are two different things. There are only two methods of childbirth - vaginal and Cesarean - whereas there are MANY forms of conception - natural, via IVF or IUI, surrogacy, etc. Factor in adoption, and it becomes clear that the real issue is explaining to our children the various methods that people use to expand their families - something that most kids don't wonder about until they're a little older and better able to understand certain concepts. I'm fairly certain, for example, that my 2-year old won't be asking me how he was conceived any time soon, just how he got here - via growth inside his mommy, and then surgery to help him out.

Hope that made sense... =)

Kehinde A. Togun said...

Tania, you are right. I did mean conception - I stand corrected.

Your two-year old may not ask you about his conception. However, if he had a surrogate mother who was in his life, he may be inclined to ask that question when at five - when he sees that many of his friends have two parents, but he has two parents and a mother.

PS: I hope your two adorable kids are doing well!

Tania Torres said...

I definitely see what you mean now, Kehinde. In that situation, I think I'd be inclined to explain things in the simplest way possible: basically by saying something along the lines of, "Well, honey, there are lots of ways that people try to make their families bigger. Some mommies need a little extra help, and are lucky enough to find someone to grow their babies for them until they're ready to meet them. Think of how special you are, to be able to have TWO mommies!"

It really is a sensitive subject, though, and I'm not sure I'd have the grace to explain it in a way that would convey just how selfless and wonderful the act of surrogacy is. =)

(Oh, and the boys are doing great! We just celebrated our toddler's 2nd birthday and had a blast. Kids are so much fun!)