What led to the birth of this project is the willingness of both the researcher and the clinical team to offer new analytical tools to think critically about a phenomenon that is constantly revised and approaches to the users of the service in a completely new way.

The study looks at commercial surrogacy used in the US by parents from different countries and of various sexual identities (e.g., heterosexual or gay). This includes, all the intended couples who travel for surrogacy to the US from Europe, as in most European countries the assisted reproduction technique (ART) is not recognized by law (Smietana M., 2016).

California is the global hub for assisted reproductive technology, practices which includes surrogacy and egg donation. Surrogacy is an agreement among indented parents (homosexuals or heterosexuals), an egg donor and another woman, the surrogate. Commercial surrogacy is governed by contractual agreements. In the transnational commercial surrogacy, it is more common that these agreements are stipulated when the parties are far, and when the Intended Parents (IPs) are back to their country. This process happens in different times and spaces: the parties usually use long distant communication and they stay in touch through social media, like e-mail, Skype call or text messages.

If surrogacy is governed by contractual agreements, what happens in the reality within a relationship between “perfect strangers”? I will analyze the pathways during the surrogacy agreements, documenting the journey of the people involved in the surrogacy. Since surrogacy is a path created by a plurality of subjects it will be studied involving all the parties who are connected through these experiences:  intended parents, egg donors and surrogates. The expectations that both parties have would adapt with the reality that is composed by different variables, values, misunderstandings and so on.
This project aims to expand the knowledge of the phenomenon of surrogacy by identifying elements of innovation and continuity with respect to the state of the art on ARTs, from an anthropological point of view.

The main topics of assessment and data collection are:

  • The path of access into the practice of surrogacy for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Egg Donors.
  • Critical access for the actors involved in the project.
  • Critical aspects before/during/after the surrogacy.
  • Comparison between expectations and reality before and after the delivery by Intended Parents and Surrogates.
  • The negotiation of the relatedness between parties after the delivery.

This research focuses on evaluate the expectations and the journey, in order to create a debate on it.

This study is carried out between Europe and USA (September 2017 and December 2020) under the direction of Dr. Ashim Kumar.