From adoption and assisted reproduction, to gay and straight parents, coupled and single, and multi-parent families, the stories in Modern Families explain how individuals make unconventional families by accessing a broad range of technological, medical and legal choices that expand our definitions of parenting and kinship. Joshua Gamson introduces us to a child with two mothers, made with one mother’s egg and the sperm of a man none of them has ever met; another born in Ethiopia, delivered by his natural grandmother to an orphanage after both his parents died in close succession, and then to the arms of his mother, who is raising him solo.
These tales are deeply personal and political. The process of forming these families involved jumping tremendous hurdles—social conventions, legal and medical institutions—with heightened intention and inventiveness, within and across multiple inequities and privileges. Yet each of these families, however they came to be, shares the same universal joys that all families share.
From the book’s foreword by Melissa Harris-Perry, Maya Angelou Presidential Chair and Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest University and, formerly, host of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry:
These family making journeys raise hard questions, but offer no formulaic answers. These are stories of choices made consciously and sometimes uncomfortably to create and combine lives amidst the messy human realities of desire, commerce, science, faith, community and family. This collection is not a roadmap; it is a companion for all those who choose to navigate the world of modern kinship.
In this commentary, Dr. Geeta Nargund at CREATE Fertility, discusses the increase in ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) reported by fertility clinics in the United Kingdom.
In the author’s opinion, a report published by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) “obfuscates” real data – a 40 percent rise in hospital admissions with severe OHSS. She suggests the HFEA prioritize this “alarming statistic” and focus on reversing the trend, offering the following recommendations: a reduced dose of stimulation followed by GnRH agonist to trigger ovulation, with an option of cryopreservation of all embryos; and abandoning the use of the “long downregulation” protocol, employed in many IVF treatment cycles, and a switch to antagonist cycles.
In line with others in the field, Nargund also emphasizes the need for informed consent – placing the responsibility for this on providers – and rigorous documentation of the effects of stimulation protocols (including the drugs and dosages used).
Professor Michele Goodwin at the University of Minnesota and Judy Norsigian have described the “raw and debilitating physical, emotional and spiritual challenges created by deeply personal and life-altering procedures” experienced by some women seeking ART and support the need for additional regulation. In addition to the invasive processes involved in conception, the ethical quandary created by a recommendation for fetal reduction and the emotional toll on women and couples may be profound and is incompletely studied. Professor Goodwin asserts there is a “much needed public discourse that could also become the clarion call for regulation of a field of medicine that has thus far unsuccessfully regulated itself.”
This position paper by the National Perinatal Association addresses the ethical use of assisted reproductive technologies. It emphasizes reducing disparities in care provided to mothers and children and makes helpful recommendations, including: single embryo transfers, counseling from a multi-disciplinary team, informed consent prior to treatment, and access to comprehensive obstetric care during and after treatment.
We Are Egg Donors was founded by three egg providers. The platform enables egg providers from more than 12 countries to connect with one another, share their experiences, and access evidence-based research on egg retrieval. We Are Egg Donors operates a Facebook group for approved members and an informative blog.
By sharing our stories, we create a meaningful conversation and advocate for causes that matter to egg donors.
Others members of the 1000+ strong We Are Egg Donors network have also shared their stories. In a candid photo essay, Christine, a first time egg donor, walks us through every step of her egg retrieval journey. In an interview describing efforts to access her medical records from the clinic, Rae cautions that egg providers may not be protected by HIPAA (the United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information). Lauren shares their experience of stigma, as a queer egg provider navigating a heteronormative medical space, while Carter shares her own as an egg provider within and for someone in her family.
We Are Egg Donors invites other egg providers to share their stories and welcomes them into the network.
A transaction once shrouded in secrecy, the Internet now hosts a thriving and competitive marketplace for donors, largely supplanting leaflets on college bulletin boards and ads in campus newspapers, the traditional methods of recruiting fertile young women. Payment varies, currently starting at about $3,500 per cycle and sometimes exceeding $50,000, depending on the location of the clinic or egg brokerage and the donor’s characteristics. An Ivy League education, Asian descent (there is a paucity of donors), exceptional looks and a previous donation that led to a birth command higher reimbursement.
This article provides a comparison between the experience of an egg provider who did not suffer any complications as a result of the process with another woman who was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer after 10 rounds of egg retrieval.
It includes interviews with noted experts, including Timothy R. B. Johnson, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, and Judy Stern, professor of pathology and obstetrics and gynecology at Dartmouth, who oversees a voluntary database called the Infertility Family Research Registry.