Happy Together is a collection of children’s books that helps introduce little ones to the family building concepts of IVF, egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation and surrogacy. After becoming a mom through the gift of egg donation, Julie found that various paths to parenthood were underrepresented in children’s literature. So she wrote her first book on egg donation to help parents share their special family building story with their child …and soon extended the concept into a whole collection, including her latest addition “Happy Together, A Surrogacy Story”, released just a few months ago! I loved getting to know the talented, open, and generous Julie – check out our interview to learn more about these amazing books and what inspired them, as well as how and when to introduce this resource to your own children.
1. Although you have both a family and full time career; you have generously taken time on the side to write the wonderful ‘Happy Together” set of books intended to introduce children to the family building journey – with carefully curated, age-appropriate language and watercolor illustrations of two bears fulfilling their dreams of parenthood! What inspired you to create these heartwarming and informative resources and at what age do you envision them being shared with the little ones.
My husband and I are parents through egg donation and we agreed early in our journey that beginning to share the family building story with our child at a young age is best. As someone with a passion for reading, I knew a children’s book would be a good way to introduce the topic. Sadly, I noticed there were only a few children’s books which shared the family building story and it was then I decided to write Happy Together, an egg donation story. It had always been a dream of mine to write a book and I felt this would be the perfect opportunity to help not only my own family, but other families as well. After I received such positive feedback on the book, I decided to make Happy Together a collection. I’m proud to share there are now eight Happy Together children’s books! Happy Together is a book parents can begin reading with their child in infancy – children and parents love the clear language and bright, cheerful illustrations.
2. What suggestions do you have for parents to navigate questions and discussions that may result from reading your books to their children?
Beginning to read the book when the child is an infant is best, as this helps parents gain confidence in sharing the story and it also creates an environment where the child grows up always having known their story. When reading Happy Together in the early years, children will likely be solely focused on the characters or the illustrations in the book. They will eventually begin to pick up on certain words or concepts which they’re able to repeat. Once the child is to an age where they can start having verbal conversation, one recommendation I have for parents is to ask their child if they have any questions or if there is any part of the book they want to talk more about. This helps the child be aware their parent is there to help them understand and happy to talk more about any curiosity they might have!
Three books from the Happy Together collection
3. You’ve shared that you experienced your own infertility journey. What helped you along the way and what have you learned since that would have been more helpful to relieve all of the stress involved?
Infertility is an incredibly isolating disease. Most women and men suffer in silence and there is a tremendous amount of shame, sadness and pain which others are unable to understand unless they’ve been through it themselves. For anyone going through infertility, what’s important to know is you’re not alone. There are others going through the same thing and you don’t have to suffer in silence.
While going through my own infertility journey, what helped me most was finding a group of women who were also going through their infertility journey at the same time. Through Resolve, I was able to join an amazing support group and I’m still friends with some of the women today, years later.
It’s impossible to relieve all of the stress involved with infertility, but having others who “get it” can certainly help make the journey a bit less painful.
4. What advice would you give to intended parents on GoStork who are just beginning their family building journey?
Be gentle with yourself, arriving at this place possibly hasn’t been easy and it might not have been the way you envisioned your family being formed. Hold onto hope, there are many beautiful ways family comes together and it’s love that makes a family.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Julie and for supporting so many parents as they introduce their little ones to their family building journey! Intended parents, learn more about the Happy Together book collection here and follow Julie on Instagram @happytogetherchildrensbook for more helpful and supportive content.