Baby Markets: Money and the New Politics of Creating Families
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From Michael Jackson and Madonna to Nadya Suleman and Jon and Kate Gosselin, creating families can no longer be described by heterosexual reproduction in the intimacy of a couple’s home and the privacy of their bedroom. On the contrary, babies can be brought into families through complex matrixes involving lawyers, coordinators, surrogates, “brokers,” donors, sellers, and endocrinologists, and without any traditional forms of intimacy. Mostly, these baby acquisitions are legal, but in some cases black markets are involved. In direct response to the need and desire to parent, men, women, and couples – gay and straight – have turned to viable, alternative means: baby markets. The marketplace for creating families spans transnational borders and encompasses international adoptions with exorbitant fees attached to the purchasing of ova and sperm and the leasing of wombs. For as much as these processes are in public view, rarely do we consider them for what they are: baby markets. This book examines the ways in which Westerners create families through private, market processes. From homosexual couples skirting Mother Nature by going to the assisted reproductive realm and buying the sperm or ova that will complete the reproductive process, to Americans traveling abroad to acquire children in China, Korea, or Ethiopia, market dynamics influence how babies and toddlers come into Western families. Equally, some contributors push back at the notion that markets appropriately describe contemporary adoptions and assisted reproduction. Michele Bratcher Goodwin and a group of contributing experts explore how financial interests, aesthetic preferences, pop culture, children’s needs, race, class, sex, religion, and social customs influence who benefits from and who is hurt by the law and economics of baby markets.