The Romance of Surrogacy1

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Abstract

This article seeks to demonstrate and analyze the cultural and emotional work surrogate mothers collectively engage in on the largest surrogacy support website,

http://www.surromomsonline.com. Surrogate mothers’ online stories and discussions frame contract surrogacy as a “labor of love.” Women often describe their surrogacy as a “journey” of shared love; they hope for a lasting relationship with the couple they carry for. This article explores how the language of love, learned and internalized through online communication with other surrogates, creates both a cultural conceptualization of surrogacy and a ground for action. Love and altruistic giving are consistent with close interpersonal rather than market relationships; surrogates hope for a long-term friendship with their couple. Surrogacy journeys, however, not infrequently end in disappointment; surrogates feel betrayed when couples cut ties. As a result of collective learning, surrogates’ discussions increasingly articulate the position that love, even when unreciprocated, can lead to repeated giving; love is noble and ennobling. Surrogates find appreciation and support in their online surrogacy community where they agree that giving life is a moral good. This stance has contributed to a renewed enthusiasm to bear children for others.

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