Receiving, or ‘Adopting’, Donated Embryos to Have Children: Parents Narrate and Draw Kinship Boundaries

Tasker, Fiona; Gubello, Alessio; Clarke, Victoria; Moller, Naomi; Nahman, Michal and Willcox, Rachel (2018). Receiving, or ‘Adopting’, Donated Embryos to Have Children: Parents Narrate and Draw Kinship Boundaries. Geneaology, 2(3), article no. 25.



Existing research suggests that embryo donation (ED) may be seen as similar to adoption by those who donate or receive embryos, or it may not. Our qualitative study explored whether having a child via embryo donation initiated kinship connections between embryo donor and recipient families as interpreted by recipient parents. Interviews were conducted with five parents from four families whose child(ren) had been born via embryo donation. All four families had an open-contact relationship set up with the couples who donated their embryos through an agency in the USA. Narrative thematic analysis of interview data and visual family map drawings were used to explore kinship conceptualizations. We conclude that the dilemma experienced by parents who have a child via embryo donation is to decide how to reconcile their child’s different genetic heritage, when gestation and upbringing both clearly boundary family membership solely within the recipient family. While some families were still struggling with this dilemma, one solution embarked upon by some parents when drawing their family map was to expand family membership, not only on the basis of genetics, but also via an appreciation of shared family and community values too.

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