Monday, May 27, 2024

6 ways to celebrate your child’s origin story

Whether your child joined your family through surrogacy, fertility treatment, donor conception, adoption, or another pathway, it is important to acknowledge and celebrate their story.

As a gay dad and family-building specialist who also has decades of experience helping LGBTQ+ families grow, I have seen parents approach this in many ways. 

While there is no one right way to do it, here are six ideas that may be helpful:

1. Talk to Your Child About Their Story

Share your child’s story with them from the beginning so that it doesn’t surprise them when they are older. Be open and honest about how your child came to your family, they may not ask, but you should share. When they do ask, keep it simple and answer their questions in an age-appropriate manner. An LGBTQ+ focused family counselor or family-building professional can be a great resource if you’re unsure of how to approach these important conversations. 

Did you have the help of an egg or sperm donor or gestational carrier? Talk about those people and the role they played in your child joining your family. Tell your child how many people wished and waited for them to arrive. Tell them about these special people and that they were wanted and loved even before they came to your family.

If you have an ongoing relationship with your sperm or egg donor, gestational carrier, or other members of your family-building circle, spend time with those special people or stay connected to them via FaceTime or Zoom if they live far away. Above all, emphasize how many people cared about them and wanted to help bring them into the world.

If your child’s story involves adoption, seek out an experienced therapist who can help navigate any challenges and emotions that might arise for them. As they grow and have more questions, find ways to connect your child with other adoptees, adoption-focused support and other resources. Every child needs different things, but honest conversation from the heart will help increase their self-esteem.

Finally, whenever you speak to your child or others about your family-building journey, do so with pride and positivity – your child will pick up on it! The more you talk about it, the better you will get, and it will become ingrained as part of your family creation story.

2. Prioritize LGBTQ+ Visibility & Representation

While children’s TV shows, movies, books, and toys have certainly evolved and become more inclusive over the years, we still have a long way to go. Look for representation of “non-traditional” characters or family structures (for example, a TV series that depicts a family with two moms or one dad) and make sure your child’s book collection has lots of diversity.

Animated TV shows like Pinky Malinky (Netflix), Bluey (Disney+), and Chip and Potato (Netflix) all feature LGBTQ+ characters. Children’s books like Love Makes a Family, What Makes a Baby, and The Very Kind Koala: A Surrogacy Story for Children all depict various family-building journeys and emphasize the beauty of differences.

Organizations like Family Equality also have excellent resource libraries to help you find LGBTQ+ inclusive books, support groups and other tools.

3. Document Your Family-Building Journey

My Lifebook was created by a mental health professional with decades of experience helping LGBTQ+ families. The goal? To offer a unique way to document your child’s origin story. 

With tailored prompts that encourage you to document the various steps you took to bring your child into your family and space to create a visual of your child’s full family tree, this book provides a great way to not only record, but celebrate, everything that makes your child who they are. Designed to be filled out as you navigate your family-building journey, or with your child as they grow, this is a very special journal you will both cherish forever. 

4. Create a Special Keepsake 

Want a simpler project? Print out photos of your family-building circle (for example, your egg donor, your fertility doctor, your gestational carrier and their family) and create an album for your child to flip through. This is also a fun, low-pressure way to introduce each person by name and help your child recognize and learn about everyone that helped bring them into the world. 

Another easy idea: create a memento box and fill it with physical objects that have been special to you throughout your journey. Think hospital bracelets, cherished photos, a magnet from the town they were born in, or other small items that help tell your child’s story in a tangible way.

5. Find an Inclusive Community

Two of the most important things you can do for your child are offer them lots of opportunities to see themselves and your family represented and surround them with a community of people who support and love them. 

Here are a few ways to do that as an LGBTQ+ parent:

  • Seek out events that center or celebrate LGBTQ+ parents and kids
  • Go to a drag queen story time at your local library
  • Join virtual or in-person groups for LGBTQ+ families
  • Attend Pride gatherings to learn about new resources
  • Reach out to your local LGBTQ+ center for support and ideas 

There are many ways to create community and cultivate a support network!

6. Embrace Differences 

Normalize family diversity by showing, drawing or talking about different types of family structures and how each child has their own unique story. This fosters empathy and inclusivity from a young age, and helps your child see that not all families look the same, which is a beautiful thing! 

Regularly talk about how some children have one mom, two moms, one dad, two dads, trans or non-binary parents (or other adults who care for them). Display acceptance for all kinds of families and emphasize that the most important thing in a family is love. 

Your Child’s Story Matters

No matter how they came to be a part of your family, being open about your child’s story and discussing the many ways that families grow will help foster acceptance and pride. Each family-building journey is unique and special, and sharing and celebrating yours will not only impact your own child, but encourage others to be more open-minded and accepting too.

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Dr. Mark Leondires

Dr. Mark P. Leondires, Medical Director and lead fertility doctor with Illume Fertility, is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Dr. Leondires is also Founder of Gay Parents To Be, an educational family-building resource for the LGBTQ+ community.

Dr. Mark Leondires has 19 posts and counting. See all posts by Dr. Mark Leondires

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