Genetic identity as a regime of truth: Same sex and transnational surrogacy parenthood in the United States and Israel

Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, Sharmila Rudrappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through examining cases of cross-border surrogacy in Israel and the United States, we offer the concept of genetic kinning defined as the narratives deployed by individuals that give prominence to genetic relatedness between offspring and parents to highlight immutable similarities between parents, and by extension, grandparents and ancestors. The deployment of genetic kinning narratives does not happen in a vacuum; instead, nation-state bodies emphasize genetic relatedness within the family unit, especially accentuated in cases of cross-border surrogacy where intended parents need to receive travel documents, including passports, and subsequently citizenship, for their children birthed through surrogacy. Genetic kinning is more emphasized for queer couples, where only one (or neither) of the fathers, or mothers as the case may be, is genetically related to the infant. We examine cases in Israel and the United States that we selected due to their wide media coverage and studied through their press presentations. We show that far from becoming less relevant, genetic relatedness becomes increasingly salient because of assisted reproductive technologies, including gamete donation and surrogacy, especially when families move across borders, presenting states bodies with the need to parse out descendance, family status/parentage, and national membership/citizenship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-359
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Cross-border surrogacy
  • Israel
  • United States
  • genetic kinning
  • kinship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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