The ready availability of donated sperm and eggs has made possible an entirely new form of family. Children of the same donor and their families, with the help of the internet, can now locate each other and make contact. Sometimes this network of families form meaningful connections that blossom into longstanding groups, and close friendships. This book is about unprecedented families that have grown up at the intersection of new reproductive technologies, social
media and the human desire for belonging.
Random Families asks: Do shared genes make you a family? What do couples do when they discover that their children shares half their DNA with a dozen or more other offspring from the same sperm donor? What do kids find in common with their donor siblings? What becomes of these chance networks once parents and donor siblings find one another?
Based on over 350 interviews with children (ages 10-28) and their parents from all over the U.S., Random Families chronicles the chain of choices that couples and single mothers make from what donor to use to how to participate (or not) in donor sibling networks. Children reveal their understanding of a donor, the donor's spot on the family tree and the meaning of their donor siblings. Through rich first-person accounts of network membership, the book illustrates how these
extraordinary relationships-woven from bits of online information and shared genetic ties- are transformed into new possibilities for kinship.
Random Families offers down-to-earth stories from real families to highlight just how truly distinctive these contemporary new forms of family are.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 312
Weight: 548 g
Dimensions: 244 x 166 x 27 mm
Random Families is an impressive book...provides lessons for academics in a variety of disciplines, for those working in the field, and for those who recognize themselves in the book's stories. Ultimately, the book challenges us to think about families in new ways. * Naomi Cahn, George Washington Law School, Society *
Rosanna Hertz and Margaret Nelson provide an important and significant expansion of the field [of donor kinship]. At the core of the book is a sociological investigation and analysis of whether and how strangers become relatives, and what happens to the meaning of family as these strangers who share genes manage their new relationships. Random Families is an impressive book Ultimately, this is not a neatly tied package of family connections but instead an
analysis, an attempt to create a narrative to describe these otherwise unscripted relationships (p. 198) that are so different from other kinship-based bonds. * , Society *
add[s] substantially to the literature on Americans' changing families, family values, and behaviors. This clearly written and organized text ... [is] a groundbreaking and illuminating study ... Highly recommended. * W. Feigelman, CHOICE *
Hertz and Nelson's approach is a welcome addition to the scholarship on searching for genetic relations among donor-conceived people and their parents . . . Random Families is an intellectually honest account of the complexity, and diversity, of same-donor networks . . . What becomes of these [donor network] possibilities remains to be seen, but for bringing them to light, Random Families deserves recognition. * Science *