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'Doing family' through Reciprocal IVF: An exploration of how LGBQ+ women experience becoming 'genetic mothers'

Bottomley, L. (2018). 'Doing family' through Reciprocal IVF: An exploration of how LGBQ+ women experience becoming 'genetic mothers'. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Shifts in social customs, legal developments and advancements in reproductive technology in the UK over the last few decades have facilitated the growth of ‘planned’ LGBQ+ families, where children are conceived within the current LGBQ+ relationship, with the intention of raising them within the family context. A more recent method of conception is Reciprocal IVF, where one partner’s eggs are collected, fertilised with donor sperm and transferred into the other partner, who then carries the pregnancy and gives birth. However, despite its increasingly popularity, little is known about the experiences of women who conceive through Reciprocal IVF. This research study explores how LGBQ+ women who share their eggs with their partner as part of Reciprocal IVF, experience the process of becoming a ‘genetic mother’. Data were collected from seven participants using semi-structured interviews and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Emergent themes reflect the ways in which the women’s decisions, experiences and meaning-making were shaped by heteronormative discourse on family. The research considers what influenced their decisions to conceive through Reciprocal IVF and assume the role of egg donor, what factors supported and/or undermined their sense that they had had a child together with their partner, and explores the development of their parental identities and how they managed threats to these. Implications for Counselling Psychologists are discussed in terms of their work with clients and responsibilities to advocate for social justice. Suggestions for future research exploration are also made.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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