LESBIAN PARENTING THROUGH DONOR INSEMINATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE HETERO-NORMATIVE FAMILY

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LESBIAN PARENTING THROUGH DONOR INSEMINATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE HETERO-NORMATIVE FAMILY Powered By Docstoc
					Gay & Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2009



LESBIAN PARENTING THROUGH DONOR INSEMINATION:
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE HETERO-NORMATIVE FAMILY
MARGIE RIPPER

                     Abstract                                    most half of the sperm donors saw their DI as
                                                                 enabling them some degree of ongoing rela-
This paper draws together the views about                        tionship in the lives of children conceived of
parenting and family formation from sperm                        their DI. This desire for a parental role varied
donors and from lesbian women seeking to                         in degree, but was much more common and
conceive. It demonstrates the importance of                      more pronounced in gay and bi-sexual men
social context in shaping the preferences and                    than in heterosexual men. The contradictions
possibilities for lesbian family formation with                  inherent in these newly negotiated family for-
known donors. The paper draws on interview                       mations reveal fault-lines which have the po-
data from those participants in the Lesbian                      tential to transform the meaning of the family.
Conception Study conducted in South Australia                    Nonetheless, the powerful ‘glue’ of romantic
in 2006/7 who conceived (or were attempting                      love and the image of the parenting couple
to do so) using donor insemination with                          reinforce traditional family forms.
known donors. The perspective of sperm do-
nors is gained from an analysis of the postings                  Keywords: Lesbian parenting, donor insemi-
on the online Australian Sperm Donor Registry                    nation, heteronormativity, family, sperm do-
in 2007. The results suggest that lesbians                       nors.
seeking donors through informal (non-clinic
based) avenues in South Australia express a                                        Introduction
preference mostly for the donor not to be in-
volved in the lives of the children born of their                A substantial body of research has been pub-
donor insemination (DI), though overwhelm-                       lished on lesbian and, to a lesser extent, gay
ingly they want the donor to be willing to be                    parenting, particularly since the 1990s. Much
identified and/or contacted if and when the                      of this work has been in the field of family
child/ren wish. They also report a preference                    studies where the dominant focus has been on
for gay donors over heterosexual donors. In                      the outcomes for children of being raised by
contrast, the gay and bi-sexual sperm donors                     lesbian or gay parents compared with those
registered on the national Australian Sperm                      raised by heterosexuals. A comprehensive
Donors Registry (ASDR) were significantly                        review of this literature, published on the
more likely than the heterosexual registrants                    website of the Australian Psychological Society
to want an active role in the lives/parenting of                 (APS), concludes that there are no detrimental
children born of their DI. The families that                     effects for children of being raised in these
lesbians construct, and that sperm donors en-                    families. To the contrary, the only differences
visage, reinforce some aspects of hetero-                        that have been found suggest same sex par-
normative family structures whilst challenging                   enting to be advantageous (Short, et al.,
and transforming others. Both lesbians and                       2007). The APS is one of a number of profes-
potential donors in this study confirmed the                     sional associations in Australia and interna-
idea that it is ‘love that makes a family’ rather                tionally who have published evidence-based
than ‘blood ties’ per se. The lesbian mothers                    statements dispelling my
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: This paper draws together the views about parenting and family formation from sperm donors and from lesbian women seeking to conceive. It demonstrates the importance of social context in shaping the preferences and possibilities for lesbian family formation with known donors. The paper draws on interview data from those participants in the Lesbian Conception Study conducted in South Australia in 2006/7 who conceived (or were attempting to do so) using donor insemination with known donors. The perspective of sperm donors is gained from an analysis of the postings on the online Australian Sperm Donor Registry in 2007. The results suggest that lesbians seeking donors through informal (non-clinic based) avenues in South Australia express a preference mostly for the donor not to be involved in the lives of the children born of their donor insemination (DI), though overwhelmingly they want the donor to be willing to be identified and/or contacted if and when the child/ren wish. They also report a preference for gay donors over heterosexual donors. In contrast, the gay and bisexual sperm donors registered on the national Australian Sperm Donors Registry (ASDR) were significantly more likely than the heterosexual registrants to want an active role in the lives/parenting of children born of their DI. The families that lesbians construct, and that sperm donors envisage, reinforce some aspects of hetero-normative family structures whilst challenging and transforming others. Both lesbians and potential donors in this study confirmed the idea that it is 'love that makes a family' rather than 'blood ties' per se. The lesbian mothers for the most part rejected the idea that biological connection is the defining element of parenthood either for men or women, or that father figures' are necessary. However, almost half of the sperm donors saw their DI as enabling them some degree of ongoing relationship in the lives of children conceived of their DI. This desire for a parental role v
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