Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self
Birthing a Mother is the first ethnography to probe the intimate experience of gestational surrogate motherhood. In this beautifully written and insightful book, Elly Teman shows how surrogates and intended mothers carefully negotiate their cooperative endeavor. Drawing on anthropological fieldwork among Jewish Israeli women, interspersed with cross-cultural perspectives of surrogacy in the global context, Teman traces the processes by which surrogates relinquish any maternal claim to the baby even as intended mothers accomplish a complicated transition to motherhood. Teman’s groundbreaking analysis reveals that as surrogates psychologically and emotionally disengage from the fetus they carry, they develop a profound and lasting bond with the intended mother.
Could change your view of surrogacy
By D. A. Messner - February 17, 2010
For a long time now, surrogacy has been criticized on multiple fronts. Popular accounts tend to portray people who volunteer to be surrogates as somehow emotionally aberrant for their ability to give up a child they brought to term. Press stories often focus on rare cases where a custody dispute results. Meanwhile, many academic feminists have railed against it as a form of economic and technological exploitation.
You'll find none of that here. Temin burrowed deeply and intimately into the lives of surrogates, intended mothers, and the relationships between the two in this ethnographic study. In the process, she uncovered the motivations of surrogates and the strategies they use, in a sense, to "give" the pregnancy to the intended mother. For the women Teman studied, meaningful human bonds and new identities were were forged as a result. In this way, the book demolishes popular negative stereotypes of surrogacy. At heart, this is a story of a pair of women -- a... read more
Still talking about it months later...
By Lisa M. Carlsson "Carlssonia" - February 27, 2011
This book did for me what all good books should do: enhanced, challenged, and aroused my interest in its subject matter. I picked up the book with little knowledge about surrogacy other than sensational media stories, but the accessible style and captivating stories at once caught my interest. Reading it while pregnant myself made the experience even more piquant; I could truly identify with both the surrogate mothers and the biological mothers, and marvel at their experiences as they together brought life to this world. What an amazing journey, with struggles and successes that were vividly captured by the author! I find myself mentioning this book still, months after reading it. Definitely a recommended read!
Medical anthropology at its best
By sugarbeet - February 28, 2010
A beautiful and, at times, disturbing book about a complex new way of responding to the age-old human problem of childlessness. Birthing A Mother is the best that medical anthropology has to offer: a deep, rich, personally engaged analysis written in a tone that is accessible to academic and non-academic readers alike. Teman's voice as a writer is lively, mature, and generous, and her use of anthropological theory -- sparingly but with pinpoint accuracy and precisely where appropriate -- is really masterful. Truly a model for others. I predict awards from within and outside the academy.