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Non-Traditional Families

Examples of Research Questions

Many children conceived by donor insemination are not told about their donor conception – what effect does this have on the children?

Are the sons and daughters of same-sex parents less stereotyped in their behaviour and attitudes than their counterparts from traditional families?

How do children born through a surrogacy arrangement feel about their surrogate mother?

How do children conceived by egg donation from a relative or family friend respond to the discovery that a person they know of as an aunt turns out to be their genetic mother?

Many assumptions are made about the potentially negative outcomes for children of being raised in families that differ from the norm. The aim of our research is to provide empirical data on the actual consequences for parents and their children of new family forms, and, from these studies, to learn more generally about the processes in families that contribute towards positive family relationships and well adjusted children.

Publications arising from our research can be found on the individual pages of the members of the team.

People

Professor Susan Golombok: Director and Professor of Family Research

Dr Vasanti Jadva: Senior Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer

Dr Tabitha Freeman: Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer

Dr Lucy Blake: Research Associate

Dr Susanna Graham: Research Associate

Sarah Evans: Research Assistant

Elena Ilioi: PhD Student

Susan Imrie: Research Assistant and PhD Student

Pamela Jimenez: PhD Student

Nishtha Lamba: PhD Student

Sophie Zadeh: PhD Student

Research Projects

Future Families: The social and psychological outcomes of emerging assisted reproductive technologies for individuals, families and society

Funded by: Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award

Susan Golombok (PI)

Advances in assisted reproductive technologies in combination with recent legislative changes, have given rise to new family forms that would not otherwise have existed, such as gay fathers whose children are born through surrogacy and egg donation, single mothers by choice who conceive their children by donor insemination and intentionally parent alone, and donor siblings who are conceived using the same donor but raised in different families. The aim of the research is to conduct the first studies of these emerging family forms that have resulted from 21st century applications of assisted reproductive technologies. Specific investigations include a study of gay father families with children born through surrogacy (conducted in collaboration with the Division of Gender, Sexuality and Health, Columbia University, New York); an investigation of the experiences of donor-conceived adolescents who are in contact with their donor siblings (conducted in collaboration with the New School for Social Research in New York); and studies of single mothers by choice and intra-family egg donation (conducted in collaboration with the London Women’s Clinic).

New Family Forms: Parent-child relationships and the psychological development of the child

Funded by: United States National Institute of Health (N.I.H.).

Susan Golombok (PI)

This is a longitudinal study of parenting and child development in surrogacy, egg donation and donor insemination families, (i.e. families in which the children lack a genetic or gestational link with one or both parents). To date, the families have been followed up when the children were aged 1, 2, 3, 7 and 10 years.

Redefining Families: Bioethics, assisted reproduction and emerging family forms

Funded by: Wellcome Trust

Susan Golombok (PI) and Co-investigators: Helen Statham, Tabitha Freeman, Vasanti Jadva, Zeynep Gürtin-Broadbent, and Martin Richards.

The Centre was granted a Wellcome Trust Enhancement Award in Biomedical Ethics to enable engagement between social scientists working at the interface of empirical research and biomedical ethics, and philosophers focusing on biomedical ethics in the field of assisted reproduction. In addition to interdisciplinary workshops and seminars, the Award funds two PhD Studentships. Our areas of particular focus are parental rights, autonomy, consent and the welfare of children in relation to three newly-emerging family forms resulting from assisted reproductive procedures: (i) gay father families, (ii) single mothers by choice, and (iii) donor siblings. The enhancement award is held by co-applicants within the Centre for Family Research, and supported by an international team of collaborators from a wide range of disciplines.

A Follow-up Study of the Experiences and Psychological Health of Surrogate Mothers and Their Families

Funded by: The ESRC

Vasanti Jadva (PI)

This study examines the long-term experiences and psychological wellbeing of surrogate mothers from the perspective of the surrogate and her family. It assesses the relationship between the surrogate and the commissioning parents and surrogate child, as well as the attitudes and feelings of members of the surrogate's family, specifically her partner and her own children. In addition, it examines the motivations of women who engage in repeated surrogacy arrangements. The findings will be relevant to families, clinicians and other professionals involved in surrogacy, and will inform policy and legislation nationally and internationally.

Parenting and the Psychological Development of Adopted Children Raised in Gay Father Families

Funded by: The ESRC

Susan Golombok (PI) and Michael Lamb (Co-investigator)

The aim of this study is to investigate the psychological consequences for adopted children of being raised in gay father families, (i.e. to examine families in which children live, from birth or early infancy, with their gay fathers). The focus is on the quality of the father-child relationships and the psychological development of the child.

The Motivations, Experiences and Future Expectations of Egg Donors

Funded by: The London Women's Clinic

Susan Golombok (PI) and Co-Investigators: Susanna Graham, Tabitha Freeman and Vasanti Jadva

This study explores the motivations, experiences and future expectations of women choosing to donate their eggs at the London Women's Clinic. This will be the first study in the UK to explore the experiences of 'altruistic' egg donors since the HFEA's removal of donor anonymity in 2005 and the change in the compensation system for donors that was introduced in 2011. With the UK currently experiencing greater demand for donor eggs than there is supply, an in-depth study into the motivations, experiences and future expectations of women choosing to donate their eggs will be invaluable in enabling the UK to improve its donor numbers. In-depth interviews will be held with egg donors to explore topics such as their reasons for donating their eggs, their experience of the egg donation recruitment and procedures, as well as their thoughts and feelings about donating their eggs, including thoughts and feelings about the individual or couple who will receive their eggs, the child who may be conceived as a result of their donation and possibilities for future information exchange. We are currently recruiting women to take part in this study. 

Upcoming events

Prof Carol Vincent and Dr Humera Iqbal, Institute of Education, University of London

Nov 25, 2014

Room 606, Centre for Family Research, Free School Lane

Upcoming events