Random Families: Genetic Strangers, Sperm Donor Siblings, and the Creation of New Kin
by Rosanna Hertz and Margaret K. Nelson
The ready availability of donated sperm and eggs has made possible an entirely new form of family. Children of the same donor and their families, with the help of social media and the internet, can now locate each other and make contact. These genetic strangers, along with the donor, sometimes form meaningful connections that blossom into lively and longstanding groups who maintain a Facebook page, hold regular reunions, and enjoy close friendships. This book is about these unprecedented families, networks of strangers linked by genes, medical technology, and intense curiosity.
Based on over 350 interviews with children and parents from all over the United States, Rosanna Hertz and Margaret K. Nelson explore what it means to be a donor sibling and what it's like to be a parent who discovers four, six, or even a dozen children who share half the DNA of their offspring. Random Familieschronicles the chain of choices that couples and single moms make-from how to conceive, how to accept donors into their family trees, and what to do when they discover that other children share half their child's DNA. Do shared genes make you family? Do kids find anything in common? What becomes of the chance networks that arise once parents and donor siblings find one another? Hertz and Nelson trace what happens in these groups over time and reveal the different motivations both kids and parents have for becoming part of them.
Random Families shares how these remarkable relationships, woven from bits of information, are transformed into new possibilities for kinship. The authors offer a highly readable account of life at the intersection of reproductive technology, social media, and the human desire for intimacy and identity.
Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women are Choosing Parenthood without Marriage and Creating the New American Family
Oct 1, 2006
by Rosanna Hertz
C. Wright Mills Award, SSSP, Finalist 2006
Choice Award, Outstanding Academic Title, Recipient 2007
A remarkable number of women today are taking the daunting step of having children outside of marriage. In Single By Chance, Mothers By Choice, Rosanna Hertz offers the first full-scale account of this fast-growing phenomenon, revealing why these middle class women took this unorthodox path and how they have managed to make single parenthood work for them.
Hertz interviewed 65 women--ranging from physicians and financial analysts to social workers, teachers, and secretaries--women who speak candidly about how they manage their lives and families as single mothers. What Hertz discovers are not ideologues but reluctant revolutionaries, women who--whether straight or gay--struggle to conform to the conventional definitions of mother, child, and family. Having tossed out the rulebook in order to become mothers, they nonetheless adhere to time-honored rules about child-rearing. As they tell their stories, they shed light on their paths to motherhood, describing how they summoned up the courage to pursue their dream, how they broke the news to parents, siblings, friends, and co-workers, how they went about buying sperm from fertility banks or adopting children of different races. They recount how their personal and social histories intersected to enable them to pursue their dream of motherhood, and how they navigate daily life. What does it mean to be 'single' in terms of romance and parenting? How do women juggle earning a paycheck with parenting? What creative ways have women devised to shore up these families? How do they incorporate men into their child-centered families? This book provides concrete, informative answers to all these questions.
A unique window on the future of the family, this book offers a gold mine of insight and reassurance for any woman contemplating this rewarding if unconventional step.
Working Families: The Transformation of the American Home
Jun 4, 2001
by Rosanna Hertz and Nancy L. Marshall
The dynamics of work and parenthood are in the midst of a revolutionary shift in the United States. Focused around a major factor in this shift―the rise of dual-income families―this groundbreaking volume provides a highly informative snapshot of the intricate fabric of work and family in the United States. With selections written by leading scholars both inside and outside academia, Working Families offers intimate stories of how families manage and how children respond to the rigors of their parents' lives, as well as broad overviews developed from survey and census data. Taken together, these essays present an updated and integral view of the revolutionary changes in patterns of work and family life occurring today.
Using a broad range of methodologies, the contributors reach across gender, age, and class differences. They discuss working-class as well as affluent dual-career couples and work sites ranging from factories to offices. Straddling racial divides, the essays range from studies of white day care providers to a close look at a Mexican maid's daughter. The collection as a whole refutes the assumption that there is one normal type of family or workplace. These readable essays capture our attention as they build, cumulatively, to an absorbing picture of today's families and workplaces.
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