What I really want for Christmas: how to tell your family you're having kids!
The holidays are a great time for celebration with family. Whether it's with candles or a Christmas tree, turkey or roast beef, long sessions around the dining-room table or the fireplace seem to be in order. All the emphasis on family can make many of us in the LGBT community feel a little isolated for not having kids of our own, something many hadn't even considered until recent years. It can also instill a longing to start our own family.
I've seen it with plenty of my gay patients and same-sex couples over the last two decades. Having the love and support of family and friends can be very helpful to all people pursuing fertility treatment. But the decision regarding whether or not to share your dreams and plans with family members -- particularly over the holidays -- can bring up lots of issues and invite everyone to share their opinions on how things should be done. "How will it happen?" "Who will carry the pregnancy?" "Why would she do it that way?" "How much will it cost?" You'll get lots of questions from family members who haven't been down a surrogacy road before, but hopefully all from a perspective of caring. The good news is that there are many treatment options today for gay and lesbian family building, and sharing your plans with loved ones during the holidays can help muster their support and engage them in the process. Whatever your situation, here are some suggestions for those first conversations that I've shared with my gay patients over the past 20 years:
- Do focus on your family members becoming grandparents, aunts, and uncles. That's probably what your parents have been looking forward to since you were born: to spoil a grandchild. That's part of their bond with you, their legacy. Focus on the growth of your family and their role in it. That will bring you all closer.
- Don't review all the protocols and procedures at first, unless they ask. You wouldn't tell them about the details of your attempts to get pregnant if you were straight, so there's no need to go over the details of the conception. As they become engaged in the process and want to know more, you can share the parts that are comfortable for you.
- Do make them feel like they're the first to know. Let them know how important they are to you and this new family development.
- Don't feel compelled to tell them whose egg or sperm you're using unless you are very comfortable with everyone knowing these details. Genetic issues can be sensitive within some families, and this is your private process. Share only what you are comfortable with. Revealing your genetic choices with parents and siblings can make one partner's family feel left out of the gene pool and may even create resentment. Focus on the positives with your folks: You're becoming parents, and they're becoming grandparents. That's what's most important.
- Do invite them to look forward to sharing future holidays with your children and your newly enlarged family.
- Through it all, stay positive and express all the love and joy you're feeling. Your family will welcome the news with the same energy.
Happy holidays! Dr. Guy Ringler is a board certified physician in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. He is a partner with California Fertility Partners.