Susan Golombok's research while affiliated with University of Cambridge and other places

Publications (245)

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Research has begun to explore the experiences of single mothers by choice who choose to start a family alone and do so using donated gametes. However, very little is known about the experiences of single fathers by choice, and even less is known about how their experiences might compare to mothers in the same position. This exploratory study of sin...
Article
Study question What are the experiences of single men regarding (i) the process of surrogacy (ii) their relationship with the surrogate (iii) disclosing surrogacy to their child? Summary answer The fathers reported a variety of experiences of surrogacy and all fathers had either disclosed or intended to disclose using surrogacy to their child. Wh...
Article
Study question Why do same-sex female couples choose to conceive using shared biological motherhood, where one mother uses her egg and the other gestates the pregnancy? Summary answer Couples consider factors within their family alongside pressures from wider society when choosing to conceive by shared biological motherhood. What is known already...
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This article extends existing sociological scholarship on doing and displaying family by developing the concept of documenting families. We suggest that documenting is conceptually rich insofar as it showcases the relationship, and tensions, between institutional practices and individual experiences of family display. Drawing on our research with m...
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Study question: What are children's perspectives of the quality of their relationships with their parents and their own psychological well-being in families created using egg donation? Summary answer: Children's scores indicated good parent-child relationship quality and high levels of psychological well-being, with children in families created...
Article
Although greater attention has been paid to fathers' involvement in caregiving in recent decades, there is limited understanding of families with primary caregiver fathers (PCFs), particularly in terms of parental psychological health and parenting quality. Findings are presented from a study of 41 PCF, 45 primary caregiver mother (PCM), and 41 dua...
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This qualitative study explored how stay-at-home fathers (SAHFs) think and feel about transitioning back into paid employment. Findings from a thematic analysis on interviews with 21 SAHFs in the United Kingdom revealed that many of the SAHFs expected to return to work. However, most of the fathers suggested that this would be part-time, or self-em...
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Ever since the birth of the first baby born through in vitro fertilization in 1978, advances in reproductive technologies have raised new concerns about the outcomes for children. In this article, I summarize research on children born through assisted reproduction involving a third party, that is, children born through egg donation, sperm donation,...
Article
The structure of families has changed significantly over the last 40 years due to changes in legislation, technology, and societal attitudes. This article examines parenting and child development in new family forms, i.e., family forms that did not exist or were not visible until the latter part of the twentieth century. First, we give an overview...
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Findings are presented of the second phase of a longitudinal study of families created by single mothers by choice. Forty-four single heterosexual mothers were compared with 37 partnered heterosexual mothers, all with a donor-conceived child aged around 8-10 years. Standardized interview, observational, and questionnaire measures of maternal wellbe...
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Findings are presented from the second phase of a UK longitudinal study of 33 gay father, 35 lesbian mother, and 43 heterosexual parent families when their adopted children reached early adolescence. Participants predominantly lived in urban/suburban areas and were mostly white and well‐educated. Standardized interviews, observations, and questionn...
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SYNOPSIS Objective Families with trans parents are an increasingly visible family form, yet little is known about parenting and child outcomes in these families. This exploratory study offers the first quantitative assessment of parent–child relationship quality and child socio-emotional and behavioral adjustment in families with a self-identified...
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Our understanding of what makes a family has changed dramatically in recent decades due to advances in reproductive technology accompanied by changing social attitudes. But what has the impact been on children? This article presents a summary of research on parent–child relationships and the psychological adjustment of children in families created...
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The number of families being created through fertility treatment with donor eggs is increasing yearly. Women who conceive in this way share a gestational but not genetic relationship with their child, yet there is limited understanding of how mothers experience the mother-child relationship during its formative period, infancy. This study explored...
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Scholarly attention has recently been given to the ways in which gender and parenting identities intersect, yet little is known about how children and adolescents with a trans* parent experience family life and relationships. This article reports data from a qualitative study in the UK based on interviews with 29 children and adolescents aged 5–18,...
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Study question: What are the psychological health, relationship quality and perceived social support outcomes of heterosexual couples who have conceived an infant through identity-release egg donation? Summary answer: Parents' scores on all measures were within the normal range. Egg donation mothers had poorer perceived social support, and egg d...
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The attachment security of children in 30 gay father families, 29 lesbian mother families and 38 heterosexual parent families was investigated using the Friends and Family Interview (FFI) at the second phase of a longitudinal study. Children in gay father families showed significantly higher levels of secure-autonomous attachment than children in h...
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More children than ever before are conceived with the use of assisted reproductive technologies and many are raised in families that are structurally different from most. Research on the experiences of children growing up in diverse families has shown that children may face disapproval, a lack of understanding, and in some cases, bullying by those...
Article
This review examines the literature on the long-term outcomes for children and parents in families created through egg donation, focusing on child psychological adjustment, parental psychological health, and parent-child relationship quality. Where possible, outcomes were examined according to family disclosure status (i.e., whether or not the pare...
Article
Wellbeing of gay fathers with children born through surrogacy A study of parental wellbeing in the U.K., France, and the Netherlands compared parents in 38 gay father families, 61 lesbian mother families, and 42 heterosexual parent families. In all family types, the parents had just become parents for the first time and had an infant aged around 4...
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Increasing numbers of children are being born through egg donation and thus do not share a genetic relationship with their mother. Parent–infant relationship quality was examined in 85 egg donation families and a comparison group of 65 in vitro fertilization families (infant M = 11 months). Standardized interview and observational measures were use...
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Study question: What are the perspectives of adolescents conceived using surrogacy, egg or sperm donation regarding their conception and the third party involved? Summary answer: The majority of adolescents described feeling indifferent about their conception, and yet simultaneously reported an interest in the third party involved, or were in co...
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Study question: How does the psychological well-being and prenatal bonding of Indian surrogates differ from a comparison group of mothers? Summary answer: Surrogates had higher levels of depression during pregnancy and post-birth, displayed lower emotional connection with the unborn baby, and greater care towards the healthy growth of the foetus...
Article
Little research has focused on the emotions felt during pregnancy and early parenthood as well as the initial quality of parenting displayed by first-time parents who conceived using assisted reproduction technologies (surrogacy, donor insemination, and in vitro fertilization). Research on primary and secondary caregivers in gay, lesbian, and heter...
Article
Study question: Are there differences in levels of parental wellbeing (parental stress, psychological adjustment and partner relationship satisfaction) between gay-father families with infants born through surrogacy, lesbian-mother families with infants born through donor insemination, and heterosexual-parent families with infants born through IVF...
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Despite much research being conducted around identity and acculturation, immigrant groups are often collectively considered according to ethnicity with broad policy recommendations applied to them. The role of generational status is frequently ignored. This article reveals findings from an in-depth interview and questionnaire-based assessment of pa...
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The aim of the 6th phase of this longitudinal study was to establish whether children born through assisted reproduction involving reproductive donation were at risk for psychological problems following the transition to adolescence at age 14 and, if so, to examine the nature of these problems and the mechanisms involved. Eighty-seven families form...
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The aim of the 6th phase of this longitudinal study was to establish whether children born through assisted reproduction involving reproductive donation were at risk for psychological problems following the transition to adolescence at age 14 and, if so, to examine the nature of these problems and the mechanisms involved. Eighty-seven families form...
Article
Whilst studies have examined the experiences of women who use clinic donors, to date there has been limited research investigating women's motivations and experiences of searching for a sperm donor online. A total of 429 women looking for a sperm donor on Pride Angel (a website that facilitates contact between donors and recipients) completed an on...
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STUDY QUESTION: Why do gay men choose to start their families through surrogacy? SUMMARY ANSWER: Most fathers chose surrogacy because they considered adoption to be a less desirable and/or accessible path to parenthood. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Little is known of gay fathers’ motivations to use surrogacy as a path to parenthood over and above other f...
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\textbf{STUDY QUESTION}$ What is the relationship between children's thoughts and feelings about their donor and their security of attachment to their solo mothers in middle childhood? $\textbf{SUMMARY ANSWER}$ Children with higher levels of secure–autonomous attachment to their mothers were more likely to have positive perceptions of the donor, an...
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\textbf{STUDY QUESTION}$ Why do gay men choose to start their families through surrogacy? $\textbf{SUMMARY ANSWER}$ Most fathers chose surrogacy because they considered adoption to be a less desirable and/or accessible path to parenthood. $\textbf{WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY}$ Little is known of gay fathers’ motivations to use surrogacy as a path to pare...
Article
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Study question: What is the relationship between children's thoughts and feelings about their donor and their security of attachment to their solo mothers in middle childhood? Summary answer: Children with higher levels of secure-autonomous attachment to their mothers were more likely to have positive perceptions of the donor, and those with hig...
Article
Whilst studies have examined the experiences of women who use clinic donors, to date there has been limited research investigating women’s motivations and experiences of searching for a sperm donor online. A total of 429 women looking for a sperm donor on Pride Angel (a website that facilitates contact between donors and recipients) completed an on...
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This paper reviews research on parenting and child development in new family forms including families created by assisted reproductive technologies, same-sex parent families, and families headed by single mothers by choice. The research is examined in the context of the issues and concerns that have been raised regarding these families. The finding...
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Findings are presented on a study of 40 gay father families created through surrogacy and a comparison group of 55 lesbian mother families created through donor insemination with a child aged 3-9 years. Standardized interview, observational and questionnaire measures of stigmatization, quality of parent-child relationships, and children's adjustmen...
Article
Findings are presented on a study of 40 gay father families created through surrogacy and a comparison group of 55 lesbian mother families created through donor insemination with a child aged 3–9 years. Standardized interview, observational and questionnaire measures of stigmatization, quality of parent–child relationships, and children's adjustmen...
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Background: The question of whether children should be told of their biological origins is one of the most controversial issues regarding the birth of children through donated eggs, sperm, embryos or surrogacy. Methods: In the sixth phase of this longitudinal study when the children were aged 14 years, family relationships and adolescent adjustm...
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Objective: To study the nature and quality of relationships between gay father families and their surrogates and egg donors and parental disclosure of children's origins. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Family homes. Patient(s): Parents in 40 gay father families with 3–9-year-old children born through surrogacy. Intervention(s): Administrat...
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The objective of this study was to examine the motivations, experiences and future expectations of identity-release egg donors in the UK following the removal of donor anonymity and the increase in financial compensation for egg donation. This exploratory, in-depth qualitative study comprised semi-structured interviews with 11 women who had attende...
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Disclosure of donor conception to children was compared between solo mothers (31 heterosexual) and two-parent families (47 heterosexual mothers with partners) with children aged 4–8 years conceived since the removal of donor anonymity in the UK. Semi-structured interviews were used to investigate their decisions and experiences about identifiable d...
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This study reports on the questions, thoughts and feelings of children aged 4–9 conceived by donor insemination to single mothers. Fifty-one mothers and 47 children from the same families were each administered a semi-structured interview. Mothers generally reported that while children either lack understanding, or have not yet been told, about the...
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Study question: What are the demographic characteristics, motivations, preferences and experiences of heterosexual, gay and bisexual sperm donors on a connection website (i.e. a website that facilitates direct contact between donors and recipients of gametes)? Summary answer: This demographically diverse group of men was donating for altruistic...
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Objective: To study whether fertility treatment, subfertility, or pregnancy planning are related to long-term intellectual development. Design: Cohort study. Setting: Not applicable. Patient(s): A total of 5,032 singletons born from 1990 to 1992 in the Aarhus Birth Cohort were followed up to a mean age of 19 years. These children were born a...
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This study interviewed adolescents conceived using sperm donation to examine their experiences of contacting and meeting 'same-donor offspring' (i.e. donor-conceived offspring raised in different families who share the same donor), their motivations for this contact, and how they make meaning of these relationships. This in-depth qualitative study...
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Objective: To study the processes by which donor-conceived children incorporate donor conception into their subjective sense of identity. Design: ▪▪▪. Setting: Family homes. Patient(s): Nineteen donor-conceived adolescents. Intervention(s): Administration of an interview and questionnaire. Main outcome measure(s): The mother-child relati...
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Fifty-one solo mother families were compared with 52 two-parent families all with a 4–9-year-old child conceived by donor insemination. Standardized interview, observational and questionnaire measures of maternal wellbeing, mother–child relationships and child adjustment were administered to mothers, children and teachers. There were no differences...
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Fifty-one solo mother families were compared with 52 two-parent families all with a 4 –9-year-old child conceived by donor insemination. Standardized interview, observational and questionnaire measures of maternal wellbeing, mother– child relationships and child adjustment were administered to mothers, children and teachers. There were no differenc...
Article
\textbf{BACKGROUND}$: The question of whether children should be told of their biological origins is one of the most controversial issues regarding the birth of children through donated eggs, sperm, embryos or surrogacy. $\textbf{METHODS}$: In the sixth phase of this longitudinal study when the children were aged 14 years, family relationships and...
Article
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Study question: How do single mothers who have conceived a child via anonymous or identity-release sperm donation represent the donor? Summary answer: While the majority of mothers described their anonymous and identity-release donors as symbolically significant to their families, others were more likely to emphasize that their lack of informati...
Article
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STUDY QUESTION: How do single mothers who have conceived a child via anonymous or identity-release sperm donation represent the donor? SUMMARY ANSWER: While the majority of mothers described their anonymous and identity-release donors as symbolically significant to their families, others were more likely to emphasize that their lack of information...
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analyses were used to identify factors independently associated with increased impact. RESULTS: A total of 809 women met the inclusion criteria, of which 396 (49%) completed the questionnaire. Most participants (75.5%) reported having no prior children. The majority (58.8%) attributed infertility to only female factors, 30.4% to a combination of ma...
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What are the characteristics, motivations and expectations of men and women who search for a co-parent online? Male and female prospective co-parents differed in terms of their motivations, choice of co-parent and expectations of co-parenting, while differences according to sexual orientation were less marked. Very few studies have addressed the ex...
Chapter
The essential reference for human development theory, updated and reconceptualized The Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science, a four–volume reference, is the field–defining work to which all others are compared. First published in 1946, and now in its Seventh Edition, the Handbook has long been considered the definitive guide to th...
Book
Modern Families brings together research on parenting and child development in new family forms including lesbian mother families, gay father families, families headed by single mothers by choice and families created by assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation and surroga...
Article
How do the psychological health and experiences of surrogate mothers change from 1 year to 10 years following the birth of the surrogacy child? The psychological well-being of surrogate mothers did not change 10 years following the birth, with all remaining positive about the surrogacy arrangement and the majority continuing to report good mental h...
Article
STUDY QUESTION: What is the relationship between parent psychological adjustment, type of gamete donation (donor insemination, egg donation) and parents' disclosure of their use of donated gametes to their children. SUMMARY ANSWER: Disclosure of donor origins to the child was not always associated with optimal levels of psychological adjustment, es...
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BACKGROUND Adolescence is a transitional time for identity formation and relationships with parents. While people born through assisted reproduction techniques (ART) appear to be well adjusted in childhood, it is unclear whether these findings carry into adolescence, and whether diverse ART have different psychological outcomes. This review summari...
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STUDY QUESTION What is the relationship between parent psychological adjustment, type of gamete donation (donor insemination, egg donation) and parents' disclosure of their use of donated gametes to their children.
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This study aimed to explore the experiences of gay, lesbian, and heterosexual adoptive parents from 130 families. Parents’ reproductive experiences prior to adoption and their reasons for choosing to adopt were compared. Heterosexual couples were more likely to have experienced infertility than same-sex couples. Same-sex couples were more likely to...
Chapter
Over the last decade in Europe, a growing number of openly gay men have become fathers, mainly through adoption, co-parenting or surrogacy. This chapter will explore how gay men who became parents in countries relatively open to gay and lesbian parenting chose their specific route to fatherhood and how they subsequently enacted family relatedness....
Article
Assisted reproductive technologies have long been at the centre of an ongoing debate about when, where, why, and by whom they ought to be used. Much of this debate has scrutinised the use of technological assistance to form families which deviate from the 'traditional' nuclear model of a heterosexual couple and their children. As one such user grou...
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Findings are presented on a U.K. study of 41 gay father families, 40 lesbian mother families, and 49 heterosexual parent families with an adopted child aged 3-9 years. Standardized interview and observational and questionnaire measures of parental well-being, quality of parent-child relationships, child adjustment, and child sex-typed behavior were...
Article
This study examined the psychological well-being of fathers and father–child relationships in families with a 7-year-old child conceived by donor insemination. Twenty-four donor insemination families and comparison groups of 25 egg donation and 32 unassisted-conception families were assessed using a standardized interview and questionnaires adminis...
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Study question Is there a difference between women with moderate to severe endometriosis (rAFS-III and rAFS-IV) who underwent laparoscopic surgery with bowel resection (BR) or without bowel resection (WBR) regarding depressive symptoms, relational adjustment and sexual functioning: a prospective questionnaire study. Summary answer Radical (but fer...
Conference Paper
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Study question How do lesbian parents discuss the donor conception with their school-age children? How is this dialogical process between parents and children described by the parents? Summary answer Some lesbian parents participating in this study seem to wait for their children to ask questions about their conception. This guarantees them that t...
Article
Donor conception and parent–child relationships were explored from the child's perspective. At ages 7 and 10, interview data were obtained from children in 31 donor insemination, 28 egg donation and 51 natural conception families. Children were also administered the MacArthur Story Stem Battery and a family map. Children in all family types reporte...
Article
A growing number of children are being born through the donation of gametes (sperm or eggs) or embryos, or the hosting of a pregnancy for another woman (surrogacy), thus creating families in which children lack a gestational and/or genetic relationship with one or both parents. Research on these families suggests that concerns about adverse outcome...