Other Mothers: Curating and Creating Voices of Adoption, Surrogacy and Egg Donation

Everington, Shanta (2022). Other Mothers: Curating and Creating Voices of Adoption, Surrogacy and Egg Donation. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00014bca


Other Mothers: Curating and creating voices of adoption, surrogacy and egg donation is a Creative Writing PhD inspired by the author’s personal experience as a biological and adoptive mother. The work comprises a book-length piece of experimental life writing and an accompanying critical commentary.

Contemporary explorations of motherhood in life writing have primarily focused on the biological mother raising the child she gave birth to. Other Mothers gives voice to women who become mothers through the alternative routes of adoption, surrogacy and egg donation, and their silent partners – the birth mothers, surrogate mothers and egg donors – who make motherhood possible for them.

The life writing draws on interviews with six women (all names have been changed): Alison, a mother via egg donation and adoption; Charlotte, an egg donor; Rubi, who became a mother through surrogacy in India; Robin, a surrogate mother; Lorraine, an adoptive mother of two who was adopted herself as a baby; Margaret, a birth mother in her seventies who gave her baby up for adoption fifty years ago. The life writing is presented in a hybrid form, encompassing edited interview, re-imagined scenes, poetry, lyric essay and quotation collage.

The accompanying critical commentary is divided into four chapters: Chapter 1 introduces the research rationale, analysing related published life writing; Chapter 2 opens up debates around the ethical issues of speaking for and representing others; Chapter 3 considers the artistic considerations involved in producing the life writing; the final chapter sets out the wider relevance of personal narratives – ‘the personal as the political’ – drawing on feminist theory.

The biographical portraits on ‘other mothers’ illuminate the diverse and changing landscape of motherhood. The research’s original contribution to knowledge lies in the way it uses an innovative hybrid life writing form – a collage approach – to illuminate an expanded understanding of motherhood.

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