Toronto Metropolitan University

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The role of normative ideologies of motherhood in intended mothers' experiences of egg donation in Canada

journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-07, 15:39 authored by Kathleen HammondKathleen Hammond

This paper explores 18 infertile Canadian intended mothers' experiences using donor eggs to conceive. Their narratives reflect a persistent normative ideology of reproduction and motherhood in Canada, where reproduction is natural, and expected, mother and child are genetically related, and two (genetic) parent families are what is normal. These ideologies permeate intended mothers' experiences of infertility, and their relationship with their egg donor. Much of the intended mothers' grief over their infertility was attributable to the gap between their experience and their perceived sense of normality. While intended mothers' relationships with their egg donor varied across a 'relational spectrum', their desire to minimize the gap between their experience and normative motherhood resulted in many intended mothers choosing less inclusive relationships, to the left of the spectrum, so as to mentally distance themselves from their use of donor eggs. Ultimately, however, in choosing to pursue egg donation, and in normalizing a different understanding of motherhood for themselves, these intended mothers are influencing cultural practices in Canada. In the long run, they, and others like them, are likely to alter cultural attitudes and conceptions of 'normality' when it comes to reproduction and motherhood. 


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