Tracing pathways of relatedness: How identity-release gamete donors negotiate biological (non-)parenthood
This article draws on an interview study with UK ‘identity-release’ sperm and egg donors, exploring how, in the context of a new ethic of openness around donor conception, they articulate their role in relation to offspring. I show that participants neither dismissed, nor straightforwardly activated, the relational significance of the ‘biological’ substance they donated. Instead, they renegotiated its meaning in ways which do not map straightforwardly on to established kinship roles. Building on a conception of personal lives and selves as fundamentally relational (Mason, 2004; Smart, 2007; May, 2013), I show how donors managed the conflicting demands of identity-release donation by tracing their relatedness to offspring along particular pathways (while diminishing others); the inherent connectedness of their own lives and selves enabled them to construct indirect non-parental connections with offspring as the siblings of their own children or the children of their friends or sisters.
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