- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press (September 10, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 147984246X
- ISBN-13: 978-1479842469
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #767,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Modern Families: Stories of Extraordinary Journeys to Kinship Hardcover – September 10, 2015
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“[T]hese tales are…a warmhearted and normalizing look at some rare kinds of families.”-Choice
"In Modern Families, Gamson offers both the personal and the critical perspectives. The stories of the journeys to kinship are beautifully rendered, novelistic page-turners. They are told, though, in context of the overarching social forces and disparities."-PsychCentral.com
"[A] fascinating look at the remarkable range of experiences that is broadening the very idea of family."-Booklist
“Modern Families is about people who attempt to create an ordinary child through extraordinary means.Their journey starts—and their child’s Origin Story begins—by navigating the worlds of assisted reproduction, new forms of co-parenting and global adoption. In doing so, these families challenge boundaries of traditional kinship and intimacies. Featured tales of parenthood are told against a backdrop of rapidly changing advances in biomedicine, the expansion of the Internet and globalizing markets. Josh Gamson, a gifted writer, delivers a provocative and memorable book.”-Rosanna Hertz,author of Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice
"Takes the reader on an intimate journey through some of the many extraordinary pathways to parenthood available in the early twenty-first century."-Sociological Forum
"Both seriously passionate about his cause and irrepressibly funny, Gamson takes us into the new world of unconventional family making. Making his way past the wagging fingers, he takes important new questions to the public square. If two men want a baby, whose egg and womb will it be, and what will be their relationships to the two women involved? How do we buy genes or borrow wombs or adopt children without letting the market take over the story and meaning? Modern Families is a deeply compassionate voyage into uncharted territory.”-Arlie Hochschild,author of The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times
"What is so deft about Modern Families is the ease with which Gamson weaves together individual stories about creating families with academic research about the process, from single parenthood to gay parenting to reproductive technologies…he describes the often heart-wrenching emotional and technological lengths they had to go to. There are moments in all these accounts that will bring you to tears."-In These Times
"These 'bedtime stories' should expand the hearts and minds of readers. Josh Gamson's exquisitely rendered tales of brave new family-making routes to contemporary parenthood and kinship aim to advance the dream of reproductive freedom."-Judith Stacey,author of Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China
“Gamson successfully weaves together the personal and the academic throughout the book. He takes personal stories and situates them in more complicated institutions and social structures.”-Brain Child Magazine
“These family making journeys raise hard questions, but offer no formulaic answers. These are stories of choices made consciously and sometimes uncomfortably to create and combine lives amidst the messy human realities of desire, commerce, science, faith, community and family. This collection is not a roadmap; it is a companion for all those who choose to navigate the world of modern kinship.”-from the Foreword by Melissa Harris-Perry
About the Author
Joshua Gamson is Professor of Sociology at the University of San Francisco. He is the author of Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America, Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity, and The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, the Music, the Seventies in San Francisco.
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He acknowledges the extra cost and legal complications of having children this way, including his and his spouse’s own economically privileged positions as compared to the woman who carries their second child, though he sometimes had to put the extra expenses on a credit card. In writing about the industry of anonymous gamete donors, in contrast to people who do want to meet their child’s genetic or original family, he concludes, “You can erase the histories and humans that are part of your family’s origins, or you can refuse to do so; the choice is not just a literary one but a political one.”
As an adoptee and a feminist myself, two decades ago I urged people of all sexual orientations to choose family-building methods that would allow their children to learn their genetic identities if they want to — as I wanted to — not because genes are everything, but because they are one important part of everyone’s self-concept. Adopted or not, we are all a combination of nature and nurture, and all parents are “real.” There were fewer options back then, before DNA tests could match donor-conceived people or adoptees with their genetic relatives on genealogy websites, before adoptees could search online for their birth parents, and before organizations like Donor Sibling Registry created a way for people with unknown ancestors to meet each other using their sperm donor’s number. For many adoptees, state laws still seal our birth certificates. Everyone has different feelings and needs about finding their ancestors but having parents who understand their sense of loss, as does the mother of a boy adopted from Ethiopia in "Modern Families," can only help children who, though wanted and loved, may nevertheless experience the pain of separation from invisible relatives.
Even if you are not a prospective parent, you will be amazed at the creativity of the diverse people, gay, lesbian, straight and trans, as they travel the winding road to parenthood in this book. As a bonus for researchers, Gamson cites current books and articles that address these topics, and even mentions the writings of older feminists who were appalled by the commodification of parenthood.
(For more reading on secrecy in 20th century adoption, see Growing in the Dark: Adoption Secrecy and Its Consequences,The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption,Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race Before Roe v. Wade, and Looking for Lost Bird: A Jewish Woman Discovers Her Navajo Roots.)