Accepted Paper:

Transnational networks of surrogacy: a case study from Germany  

Author:

Anika König (Freie Universität Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

Surrogacy, which constitutes one particular form of assisted reproduction, takes place in a highly diverse and transnational setting. This paper deals with the experiences of German ‘intended parents’ and how they negotiate their way in this transnational context, particularly in internet forums.

Paper long abstract:

Surrogacy is the carrying of a child to term by a so-called 'surrogate mother', who, after having given birth, hands the child over to the commissioning 'intended parents'.

While some countries permit surrogacy, others prohibit the practice altogether. Germany, as a country whose laws concerning assisted reproductive technologies in general are among the most restrictive world-wide, belongs to the latter. As a result of this restrictive legal situation most intended parents from Germany commission a surrogacy outside their home country - the main destinations for this form of assisted reproduction being Asian and Eastern European countries and the United States. However, the laws as well as the ways in which agencies, doctors, clinics, and lawyers work differ greatly depending on the respective national and socio-cultural contexts.

Most intended parents find it difficult to negotiate their way in this highly diverse and transnational setting. This is especially true for German intended parents, who, due to the legal situation, are unable to rely upon official guidelines, counseling or advice. As a result, they seek information and advice on the internet, mostly in discussion forums. Here, more experienced intended parents share their experiences and knowledge and give advice to newcomers. This ranges from recommendations concerning particular agencies, doctors, or lawyers to personal stories of success or failure, etc.

This paper deals with this virtual exchange of knowledge and experiences and how this overlaps with people's real-life experiences in the transnational surrogacy industry.

Panel P094
Alliances, networks, and oppositions: the transnational circulation of medical reproductive technologies