Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Lesbian mothers-Psychology, Nonbiological mothers-Psychology, Sperm donors, Lesbian, Parent, Non-gestational parent, Non-biological parent, Mother, Third-party donor


This qualitative study explored narratives of lesbian non-gestational parents as they reflected on how they planned the stages of building a family, experienced their partner's pregnancy, and adapted to parenthood. The study delved into issues of personal and social identity as these shifted during this important period in family life. The present inquiry contributes to our gaps in knowledge about how planned lesbian-led families take shape and specifically about the experiences of non-gestational parents as they engage in each stage from lesbian partner to lesbian parent. This study examines ways how non-gestational parents cultivate their family roles, explores considerations of donor characteristics or traits, and describes ways the donor stories are then narrated in family histories. The investigation illuminates non-gestational parent's beliefs about changes in personal and social identity during her partner's pregnancy, perceptions of parent / infant bonding, and strategies for negotiating a satisfying parent role. The sample was comprised of 13 lesbian non-gestational parents with children aged 14 years or younger. Results indicated that most women who take the non-gestational role feel some measure of "invisibility" particularly during their partner's pregnancy and also, face the challenge of crafting an identity barely recognized in a heteronormative culture. The data gathered for this study shows that the more prepared non-gestational parents are for the demands of forging a new family role outside the norm and the more strategic and intentional the parents' partnership in creating a family, the more satisfied these parents were within their social contexts and in their bonded and unique relationship to their children and their partners.




iii, 83 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 73-78)

Limited Access until August 2018