In January 2017, I began a new ESRC funded project 'Curious Connections: The Impact of Donating Egg and Sperm on Donors' Everyday Life and Relationships' (lasting until September 2020). The study explores how donors negotiate and navigate donating egg or sperm in the context of their own relationships and everyday life. It comprises interviews with donors, partners and parents of donors, as well as infertility counsellors.
I have previoulsy conducted two major studies into family life and donor conception. In my PhD (University of York, 2009, examiner Dr Celia Roberts, Lancaster University) I explored how lesbian couples’ pursuit of donor conception is changing the landscape of family, kin and reproduction. The study was based on interviews with 25 lesbian couples who were pursuing parenthood through donor conception, or who were already parents. I found that there was an irresolvable tension between the couples’ conception practices using donor sperm, and their romantic desire to be and become a traditional nuclear family. I explored the interview data with regards to this tension, and looked at the material and practical dimensions of the process of trying to conceive, constructions of intimacy and the practical and intimate management of donations and inseminations, and understandings, aspirations and constructions of family connectedness, parenthood and siblinghood.
From 2010 to 2013, I worked together with Professor Carol Smart (PI) on a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) into assisted conception and wider family relationships. This study addressed how heterosexual and same sex couples with donor conceived children negotiate sharing information about gamete donation and genetic difference with wider family. You can read about our findings or watch our videos here:http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/morgancentre/our-research/kinship-and-relatedness/relative-strangers/