Negotiating Kinship: On Disassembling Same-Sex Families with Children

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Same-sex families are distinct: at least one parent is not genetically related to each child and external state regulation of coupling and separation processes is scarce. The disassembling of such families therefore offers a singular setting to explore nontraditional perceptions and enactments of family and kinship. Tracing separation processes and custody agreements of same-sex couples with children, this paper suggests that at the family formation stage, couples side-lined genetic relatedness and emphasized social kinning. As the partners’ relations deteriorated, parent-child genetic links were increasingly prioritized (though not genetic links with ova donors or half genetic siblings). Post-separation arrangements varied greatly. Some couples sustained the former family’s framework and nurtured co-parent and sibling relations, while others marginalized non-genetic relatedness, at times to complete detachment. Having a genetic offspring emerged as a major determinant of post separation relations. The paper illustrates the elasticity of same-sex kinship perceptions, with social kinning particularly amenable to circumstance changes. The study is based on accounts of eight lesbians and gay men in Israel, depicted through interviews (4), therapist's accounts (3) and a media report (1). The accounts were analyzed for emergent themes of family and relatedness as they were formed, transformed and enacted in these contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-401
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of GLBT Family Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 3 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Israel
  • Same-sex separation
  • biogenetic relatedness
  • gay men
  • lesbians
  • same-sex custody

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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