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Single fathers experience of using egg donation and surragacy to start a family

Started by mensfe_admin, 2024-01-12 15:30

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Single fathers' experiences of using egg donation and surrogacy to start a family
C Jones 1 2, V Jadva 3, S Zadeh 4, S Golombok 2
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PMID: 37528054 PMCID: PMC10546079 DOI: 10.1093/humrep/dead152
Free PMC article
Study question: What are the experiences of single men using egg donation and surrogacy as a route to parenthood?

Summary answer: The fathers mainly had a positive relationship with the surrogate and simultaneously exercised agency, and experienced challenges, during the process of surrogacy.

What is known already: Little is known about single men's experiences of egg donation and surrogacy arrangements. Studies have focused on single men's decision-making processes about the use of surrogacy and family functioning once these families are formed. Questions remain about how fathers experience and navigate the process of surrogacy as a single man.

Study design, size, duration: The study is an international, in-depth qualitative study of fathers who chose to begin a family and parent alone. Data were collected between 2018 and 2021 as part of a larger study of solo fathers with different routes to parenthood. The present study reports on 21 fathers who used surrogacy and egg donation to begin their family. The average age of the fathers was 44 years, the fathers had young children aged 6 years or younger, and lived in countries across Australia, Europe, and North America.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted. Interview topics included fathers' experiences of the process of using egg donation and surrogacy, and navigating the relationship with the surrogate. The audio-recorded interviews lasted around 2 hours and were subsequently transcribed verbatim.

Main results and the role of chance: Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis and qualitative content analysis. Most of the fathers chose an identifiable egg donor. Regarding the relationship with the surrogate, many fathers had remained in contact with her, but to differing degrees, and they generally reported positive relationships. Thematic analysis led to the identification of three themes relating to the fathers' experiences of choosing surrogacy as a single man: the ability to make choices; challenges and constraints; and special relationship.

Limitations, reasons for caution: Due to the variation between different countries regarding laws on surrogacy, contextual factors may have impacted on the experiences of single fathers, and the sample size was small. However, the research provides new insights into an area with little academic literature.

Wider implications of the findings: Given the growing trend of single men having children through surrogacy, the findings suggest that this new path to parenthood can be both rewarding and challenging. Single men may benefit from tailored support and counselling to help them navigate the surrogacy journey.

Study funding/competing interest(s): This study was funded by the Wellcome Trust (grant number 208013/Z/17/Z). The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Trial registration number: n/a.

Keywords: egg donation; experiences; qualitative research; single fathers; surrogacy.

© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

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