Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families

Diane Ehrensaft, Author . Guilford $35 (305p) ISBN 978-1-59385-179-8 ISBN 978-1-59385-133-0

With the spread of nontraditional families and the rise of infertility, "assisted conception" (donor insemination, egg donation, surrogate mothering or any combination of the above) is a big new fact of life. After two decades of counseling "biosocial" families, Ehrensaft, a clinical and developmental psychologist (Parenting Together ; Spoiling Childhood ), wrote this honest, down-to-earth manual to help parents work through the problems. Just because people are brave enough to create nontraditional families doesn't mean they've anticipated the difficult questions those arrangements raise. Do shared genes give the biological parent more rights than the "social" parent? Is it wrong to have fantasies about sperm donors? How do you decide how much to involve the "birth other" in the "family matrix"? At what age do you tell your child his or her birth story? What do you tell them? Ehrensaft groups the issues thematically with plenty of firsthand anecdotes. An experienced therapist, she acknowledges up front many things we do that we shouldn't: social moms feeling jealous of surrogates, parents hiding the truth from their children, etc. She understands—and then nudges parents in a better direction. This is a terrifically useful book for nontraditional families and everyone (teachers, ministers, therapists) who works with them. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/20/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
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