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A Child's Perspective on Surrogacy


by Pamela MacPhee, Author, Delivering Hope: The Extraordinary Journey of a Surrogate Mom, March 29, 2011

Throughout my surrogate pregnancy, my three young children (ages 2,5 and 7) were an integral and invested part of our journey.

To their understanding I was simply carrying a baby for my cousin’s wife because “she’d been sick (cancer), and her belly didn’t work right anymore, so she couldn’t grow a baby on her own.” Instead, they understood, my cousin’s baby would find a temporary home inside of me until she was big and healthy enough to come out, and then we would hand her back.

To children this is a perfectly natural, perfectly logical explanation that is simply another way of bringing a baby into the world. They do not get hung up on the details or the differences. My kids lovingly showered kisses on my belly, whispered ‘I love yous' and sang to the baby inside me throughout the pregnancy. They took an enormous sense of pride in helping bring my cousin’s baby girl into the world, and they were thrilled when she was born and they held her in their arms in the hospital. They gave her hugs and kisses goodbye when it was time for her to go home.

They also proudly (and humorously!) shared the surrogacy along the way in their own special words with their friends. Especially Duncan, my 5-year-old.

One day in my second trimester he had a play date with his new kindergarten friend, and on the way home in the car his friend’s mom asked Duncan if he was excited about having a new baby brother or sister.

Duncan answered, matter-of-factly,“Oh, no. It’s just my baby cousin. We’re not keeping it.” I wish I could have seen the look of shock and confusion on the mom’s face that day! (Months later I explained the whole situation to her, and we had a good chuckle over it together.)

Another day, Duncan had a friend over to shoot some basketball in the driveway. As they played, I heard through the open kitchen window Duncan explain in a few words the facts of embryo transfer and his baby cousin growing inside me, and how readily his friend accepted the news.

Yes, it’s a vastly simplified explanation, and kids don’t understand all the intricate issues, but I still think there is a valuable lesson to be learned from kids for anyone hung up on the complexities and challenges of surrogacy. From their perspective, it’s really simply another way of starting a family, albeit with a little bit of extra help. And you know what, the bottom line is: That really is what it is.

In the end, our journey to bring a baby into the world for Henry and Lauren taught my children a valuable lesson about giving, about helping others who are less fortunate, and that there is more than one way to create a family. It was an amazing journey for all of us, and their connection to the birth of baby Hope remains special to my kids to this day. Hope, too, is so proud of her own special birth story and how we all came together to make it possible. We can all be proud, I believe, however it is we bring our children into the world.

Pamela MacPhee graduated from Stanford University in 1986 with a degree in Human Biology. When her cousin’s wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer and subsequent infertility, she wanted to do something to help. After some serious research and internal soul searching, she knew in her heart she wanted to be their surrogate mom. Her offer became extraordinary surrogacy journey which ended 18 months later with the birth of a baby girl, Hope. MacPhee is the author of Delivering Hope: The Extraordinary Journey of a Surrogate Mom, published in 2009.