Families in the making: gestational surrogate mothers in California

Master thesis English OPEN
Bjørn, Henriette Hårseide (2014)

This thesis is based on a field work I conducted in California from January to June 2012, where I explore how gestational surrogate mothers experience the process of surrogacy and how California law has dealt with ART-cases. Through exploring surrogacy from different view point, and in particular from the view of surrogate mothers, this has given an insightful view into surrogacy in California. I have identified two court cases which are important for the establishment of parental rights in surrogacy cases in California. An interesting aspect is that these cases (case law), puts emphasis on parental intent when deciding legal parenthood. The case law has an important function for the possibility of procuring pre-birth rights in surrogacy cases, since they lay the basis for who is to be viewed as the natural parent of the child. I will further explore the motivation of the surrogate mother, the relationship between the intended parents and the surrogate, and how there is an ambivalence connected to the business part of surrogacy. The motivations of the surrogate mothers are depicted as primarily altruistic and they have a standardized form. I explore what influences that could contribute to this altruistic standardization, and I identify among other things the agency as a contributor to this. I will also show how the actors navigate between gifts and commodities.The surrogates are in a commercial surrogacy arrangement, and they are receiving compensation for their service as a surrogate. But the insufficiency in the compensation makes it possible for the surrogates to downplay the commercial aspect of surrogacy and rather highlight their altruistic motivation and the relationship they have to the intended parents.
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