ART - Talking to Children About Assisted Reproductive Technology

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Talking to Kids About Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Talking with your children about their conception and birth is not a one-time event; it’s a process. Young children who don’t understand reproduction can only absorb the simplest concepts (For example, “Mommy and daddy wanted a baby and a very nice woman helped us have you.”) Even as children grow older and more knowledgeable, the full effect of their origins seems to dawn gradually – perhaps in response to a “family tree” assignment in school, or a remark made on the playground.

At every stage, experts say, the most important thing parents can do is to convey information and answer children’s questions in a loving, factual, and confident way.

Hilary Hanafin, Ph.D.

Here, Hilary Hanafin, Ph.D., the chief psychologist at the Center for Surrogate Parenting in Los Angeles, discusses how to talk to children of different ages and create a family story you can live with comfortably through the years.

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Rebecca, 18, learned at age 6 that she had been born through surrogacy. Her mother, Jean, starts the story:

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Daniel Wilkins and Carole Lieber Wilkins

Sometimes the kids themselves help parents keep perspective. Sixteen-year-old Daniel Wilkins and his mother Carole Lieber Wilkins offer this advice:

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“When it comes to telling your children … you do choke up, you do get emotional, you do worry: is this child really going to be mine? I’ve worked so hard and here she is; is she mine? Practicing helps you get through it.”
— Elaine Gordon, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist


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