The New Kinship: Constructing Donor-Conceived Families

By: Ashley Jacoby

Introduction: In The New Kinship: Constructing Donor Conceived Families, author Naomi Cahn examines how families and relationships form when individuals utilize assisted reproductive technology (“ART”) to conceive and bear children. Cahn proposes that The New Kinship serves three purposes: firstly, it explores how emotional connections are created and develop within families who opt to use donor gametes, and documents these evolving relationships; secondly, it offers a legal foundation for promoting the development of these communities, and argues that current law should not be primarily focused on medicine, technology, and commodification, but rather family and constitutional law; thirdly, The New Kinship illustrates how donor families simultaneously reinforce and complicate the meaning of family, thereby offering an opportunity to reconsider the meaning of family generally.

In seeking to offer an in-depth look at how “donor families” both support and confuse the social, cultural, economic, and legal meaning of family, Cahn offers a chronological and thematic exploration of the donor world. Consequently, this review will begin by examining the basic meaning of family and outlining the composition of the donor world. The second section of the review will address the questions of “who” searches for donor-based relationships, and “why.” The third section examines the law’s approach to, and relationship with, donor-conceived families. The last section discusses Cahn’s proposals for legal reform in this emerging area of law. The review will conclude by addressing the broader implications and benefits of allowing for the expansive construction and conception of the meaning of family.

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