Journeys to Parenthood: The Challenges of Italians Becoming Parents through Surrogacy

Diletta Luminari, Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences

The last decades have seen an increase in the use of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs), which opened the doors of parenthood to people who could have not reached their parental goals in “natural” ways. Surrogacy, arguably the most controversial among ARTs, has raised relevant ethical questions and social scrutiny especially with respect to its moral implications. This study expands the empirical and theoretical knowledge on the experiences of surrogacy by talking the often-overlooked position of intended parents and including people of different sexual orientations. By exploring their journeys to parenthood, the research aims to understand parents’ reproductive narratives, with specific attention to the social, emotional, administrative, and legal challenges they face, and their interactions with the state’s apparatus (i.e. health care system, adoption and registration offices, consulates and embassies, etc.). The research identifies the obstacles faced and strategies developed in people’s attempts to accomplish their procreative projects, and further informs the debate on how concepts of parenthood, reproductive vulnerabilities, and bio-medical mobilities relate to each other in a context of non-heteronormative reproduction. The study takes Italy as a most extreme case of restrictive legislations around surrogacy, and is designed around a focus group with people who have already reached a parental status through surrogacy, and longitudinal interviews in two points in time (before and after the baby is born) with people on their path to parenthood through surrogacy.

Presented in Session 1227: Sexual and Reproductive Behaviour