Baby Markets: Money and the New Politics of Creating Families

By in Parental & Juvenile on March 11, 2013

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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.

One thought on “Baby Markets: Money and the New Politics of Creating Families

  1. Reginald F. Finger
    2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Baby Markets: A Critical Review, January 19, 2011
    Reginald F. Finger (Colorado Springs, CO) –

    This review is from: Baby Markets: Money and the New Politics of Creating Families (Paperback)

    This book is a collection of 19 essays by 24 authors about how issues of market economics affect the worlds of adoption and assisted reproduction. The editor’s first objective is to point out that market economics is present in these two worlds, whether we like it or not, and rather than either denying or celebrating the fact, we ought to work hard to maximize the benefits of the market in these worlds and minimize the harms. Her second objective is to discuss the issues of market economics for adoption and assisted reproduction side by side and to point out the common factors between these two worlds.

    All in all, I found the book a very valuable read. Ms. Bratcher Goodwin succeeded in both of her objectives. Any reader dealing with the infant or child adoption enterprises will have an excellent appreciation of how his issues relate to those of assisted reproduction – and vice versa. The work was well referenced.

    All that said, I have a number of (hopefully) constructive criticisms:

    1) It is unclear whom the intended audience is. Most of the essays read at the college graduate level and could not easily be followed by anyone without specific professional training.

    2) I was disappointed not to find an essay from my field – embryo adoption – given that embryo adoption is the one endeavor that clearly overlaps the fields of adoption and assisted reproduction.

    3) Of the 24 essay contributors, 18 were attorneys by training. Better representation from other fields valuable to this conversation: bioethics, moral philosophy, medicine, business economics, and social work, would have been tendency.

    4) I was pleased that conservative family scholar Maggie Gallagher addressed the value of kinship in our society and pointed out that it is threatened by the changes that both market and government are forcing onto the institution of the family. That said, I thought Ms. Gallagher could have dispensed with some of the diplomatic language and hit a bit harder.

    5) It was disappointing to see certain assumptions – the validity of homosexual parenting, the legitimacy of embryonic stem cell research, and the rejection of societal gender roles – affirmed without any discussion or debate.

    6) Given that three essays dealt with ESC research, I was disappointed to find adult stem cell research – which has a far more robust track record in producing potentially curative therapies – not mentioned even once.

    In summary, despite its shortcomings, the book is an informative and valuable resource. I recommend it for professionals working, lecturing, or writing in the adoption and assisted reproduction enterprises or related subjects.

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