Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self

Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self

Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self

Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self

Synopsis

Birthing a Mother is the first ethnography to probe the intimate experience of gestational surrogate motherhood. In this beautifully written and insightful book, Elly Teman shows how surrogates and intended mothers carefully negotiate their cooperative endeavor. Drawing on anthropological fieldwork among Jewish Israeli women, interspersed with cross-cultural perspectives of surrogacy in the global context, Teman traces the processes by which surrogates relinquish any maternal claim to the baby even as intended mothers accomplish a complicated transition to motherhood. Teman's groundbreaking analysis reveals that as surrogates psychologically and emotionally disengage from the fetus they carry, they develop a profound and lasting bond with the intended mother.

Excerpt

In early 2008, surrogacy became the hot topic of the moment, grabbing cover stories in The New York Times and Newsweek. Though it would seem that this relatively rare mode of reproduction has become the latest trend in reproduction, it is not new. in fact, the roots of surrogacy can be traced to the book of Genesis. Despite the media frenzy that accompanied the heatedly debated Baby M case two decades ago, the practice of surrogacy has quietly continued, staying out of the limelight until its recent resurgence in the headlines. Indeed, since the late 1970s, tens of thousands of women have given birth through surrogacy, and an estimated 1,500 babies are born through this practice each year in the United States. the practice’s current high profile may perhaps be explained by a slew of celebrities creating families through surrogacy and a surge in surrogacy births in the United States over the past five years. As women today increasingly delay childbearing, infertility levels rise, and single persons and same-sex couples pursue more familybuilding options, the use of surrogacy is not just gaining momentum but is likely to increase exponentially.

There has been an abundance of interdisciplinary academic inquiry into surrogacy arrangements, generating a complex and nuanced critical debate about the ethical, religious, legal, and broad social issues that these arrangements bring into focus. in general, much of this scholarship has displayed a sense of uneasiness with respect to surrogacy, raising concerns about the commodification of women and children . . .

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