(Troubling) Families in the Age of Surrogacy

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
L. M. Anabel STOECKLE, Wayne State University, USA
Surrogacy arrangements create the possibility of new family combinations, not only by redefining motherhood specifically and parenthood more broadly, but also by destabilizing what constitutes a family today.

First, these new reproductive practices through surrogacy challenge the “traditional” way to have a child; the nuclear family consisting of a biologically related mother/father/child becomes troubled. Second, surrogacy offers women alternative pathways to motherhood and allows men to become fathers detached from heterosexual relationships. Third, surrogacy arrangements violate traditional understandings of motherhood; since the surrogate relinquishes the child after birth, she violates assumed “natural” feelings of attachment a woman ought to have when she carries a child. 

My paper focuses on the experiences of both surrogates and intended parents in the US, and examines how individuals within surrogate arrangements discuss the contours of “family.” My paper further analyzes how individuals find this new form of family troublesome and how they normalize their experiences at the same time. The foundation for my analysis is interviews with surrogates and intended parents, as well as an online survey of surrogates.