Extensive Bibliography for Non-Traditional Families

At long last — thanks to the diligent work of long-time Choice Mom community supporter Patricia Mendell, a New York City-based therapist, we have an even more extensive bibliography for non-traditional families than we’ve ever had before.

She created much of this bibliography for our 2016 Choice Mom E-Book: LGBTQ Family Building. There is a tremendous list here for anyone creating a family through donor conception or surrogacy, looking for reading material with kids, learning how to have “the” conversations, and recommended videos and websites. She also does the service of describing some of the books she knows, to give more information than simply a title. Thanks Patricia!


Aizley, Harlyn. Confessions of the Other Mother: Non-Biological Lesbian Moms Tell All. The book is a group of personal stories, including the author’s own, about lesbian two mom families (biological and non-biological) struggling to redefine motherhood, parenting and reshaping the view of a two-parent family. Beacon Press, 2006.

Ball, Carlos A. The Right to Be Parents: LGBT Families and the Transformation of Parenthood. University Press, 2012.

Bernstein, Robert A. Families of Value: Personal Profiles of Pioneering Lesbian and Gay Parents. Marlowe and Company, Imprint of Avalon Publishing, 2005.

Brill, Stephanie & Sacks, Preston. The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth. Alyson Publications, 2006.

Bucatinsky, Dan Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight?: Confessions of a Gay Dad. From actor/writer/producer Dan Bucatinsky, executive producer of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, a collection of funny and serious stories about parenthood that will obliterate the boundaries of gender and sexual orientation. The book, while about adoption, is a story for all couples, recounting their road to adopting their two children but sharing, as well, the realities of raising children in a predominantly straight world. Simon and Schuster, 2012.

Burns, Jan & Pettle, Sharon. Choosing to be Open about Donor Conception: the experience of parents, Based on interviews with 52 heterosexual, single and lesbian parents about their experiences being open with their children. Donor Conception Network, 2002. www.dcnetwork.org

Clifford, Denis, Hertz, Frederick, and Doskow, Emily, a Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples. Nolo Press, 2007.

Daniels, Ken, Building a Family with the Assistance of Donor Insemination. Based on the experiences of parents who recount their journeys from discovering infertility, making the decision to use DI, to having a family. Useful for people considering egg donation. Palmerston North New Zealand: Dunsmore Press, 2004.

Ehrensaft, Diane. Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families. A book for anyone who has used, or is thinking of using, a donor or surrogate to have a family. Guilford Press, 2005.

Fine, Katherine, Ed. Donor Conception for Life, Psychoanalytic Reflections on New Ways of Conceiving the Family. The book is about the psychological experiences of women and men who have used donor conception to create their families. The authors from various backgrounds offer diverse accounts of their clinical, research, and personal experiences. They each describe the challenge of the conscious and unconscious fantasies that can be aroused and how these may re-awaken early anxieties and developmental struggles. How the sensitive management of these differing genetics and emotional challenges are negotiated is reflected in how parents talk with their children about their genetic origins. Karnac Books, 2015.

Freeman Tabitha, Graham, Susanna, Ebtehaj, Fatemeh and Richards, Martin Eds., Relatedness In Assisted Reproduction, Families, Origins, and Identities. ART challenges and reinforces traditional understandings of Family and kinship. This is a book that explores from a multiple disciplines the traditional relatedness in ART families. The book with the help of an International team of academics and clinicians explores the complex meanings of origins, identities, kin connections in ART families through their personal, professional and research based studies reflecting on a range of social, legal, and bioethical perspectives. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Goldberg, Susan & Rose, Chloe Brushwood, Eds., And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents, and Our Unexpected Families. Explores the role of the “known donor in the queer family structure: what happens when would-be lesbian moms or gay dads ask a friend or acquaintance to donate sperm or an egg, or to act as a surrogate”? A collection of personal essays by donors and/or their partners, biological and non-biological parents, donor-conceived offspring, and friends of all of them reflecting on their experiences; offering both an intimate look at the relative risks but also the unexpected rewards of queer, do-it-yourself baby-making as they build their unique family. Given that there are really no clear models to follow, the essays create their own version of the queer family addressing questions such as: What’s the difference between being a donor and being a parent? What happens to non-biological parents when a known donor is also part of the picture? When and how does biology count-or does it? Why do parents choose known donors, and what happens if things get ugly? Insomniac Press, October, 2010. www.amazon.com

Golombok, Susan. Modern Families Parents and Children in New Family Forms. Combines 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 through ART via IVF egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation, and surrogacy. Tests the myths of our society revealing that the quality of family relationships and the wider social environment are more influential in children’s psychological development than are the number, gender, sexual orientation or biological relatedness of their parents or the method of their conception. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Guichon, Juliet, Mitchell, Ian, Giroux, Michelle, Eds. The Right to Know One’s Origins. This book is a series of chapters by various authors with the singular focus on children of assisted conception. It focuses on the rights of donor conceived to know their origins and the repercussions of being created by a third party and the effect it has on the emotional, psychological and social environment of this person and their family. It blends both the professional perspective with the personal perspective (donor conceived themselves) changing the claim that “the kids are alright”. ASP NV (Academic and Scientific Publishers NV) , 2012 www.aspeditions.be

Henderson, Kristen, & Ellis, Sarah. Two Women in Love and the Happy Family They Made. The book is the story of two women, meeting falling in love and then deciding to have children; both becoming pregnant at the same time. They talk about their adventure and the realities of raising two children in a lesbian family where the children are half siblings to one another. Free Press, 2011.

Kramer, Wendy & Cahn, Naomi. Finding Our Families: a First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor Conceived People and Their Families. Co-authored by the Founder of the Donor Sibling Registry and a family and reproductive law professor, this book offers a step-by-step comprehensive guide for donor conceived families looking for information on how to raise children created with the help of a third person. The book includes: looking at the new meaning of kinship; the need for openness over secrecy; how to talk with your child and others about their origins; and helping your child search for information about their origins. Penguin Group, 2013.

Lev, Arlene Istar. The Complete Lesbian and Gay Parenting Guide, Berkley Trade, 2004.

Lorbach, Caroline. Experiences of Donor Conception: Parents, Offspring and Donors through the Years. Based on interviews with parents, she looks at the process of deciding to use donor conception, choosing a donor, and discussing the decision with others. Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 2003 (updated second addition 2009)

Mahoney, Jerry. Mommy Man: How I Went from Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad. The book is about one person’s journey from teenager to coming out to meeting his partner and plunging into parenthood through surrogacy using humor and emotions in describing his journey through the uncharted waters of gay fathers and surrogacy. Taylor Trade, 2014.

Mattes, Jane. Single Mothers by Choice: A Guide for Single Women who are considering or Have Chosen Motherhood. Three Rivers Press, 1997.

McCarry, Kevin. Fatherhood for Gay Men: An Emotional & Practical Guide to Become a Gay Dad. 2003.

McPhee, Pamela. Delivering Hope, the Extraordinary Journey of a Surrogate. Heartset, Inc., 2005.

Mendell, Patricia, LCSW. Path2Parenthood, Top Ten Fertility Myths. Mental Health Advisory Council, www.P2P.org.

Miller, Amie Klempnauer. She Looks Just like You: A Memoir of (non-biological Lesbian) Motherhood, Beacon Press, 2010.

Montuschi, Olivia, Telling and Talking: Discussing Donor Conception: A guide for parents. Donor Conception Network, Updated 2015 from 2006. The guide series for parents includes:

  1. Telling and Talking with 0-7 yrs.;
  2. Telling and Talking with 8-11 yrs.
  3. Telling and Talking with 12-16 yrs.
  4. Telling and Talking with 17 yrs. +
  5. Telling and Talking with friends and family
  6. Telling and Talking with relatives and friends

Morrissette, Mikki, ed. Voices of Donor Conception, Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond the Secrecy and Shame, First person essays from parents, donor conceived offspring and advice of two experts dealing with families affected by donor conception. Be-Mondo Publishing, 2006.

Morrissette, Mikki. Choosing Single Motherhood. Mariner Publishing, 2005.

Morrissette, Mikki, Ed., E-Guides, They are comprehensive, insightful and helpful to married couples, single moms, and lesbian couples seeking comprehensive reproductive information. Published and purchased here at Choicemoms.org: Home Insemination, All About Sperm, About Embryos, About Eggs, About Genetics.

Mundy, Liza. Everything Conceivable: How the Science of Assisted Reproduction is Changing our World, Using in-depth reporting and anecdotal material from doctors, families, surrogates, sperm and egg donors, infertile men and women, single and gay and lesbian parents, and children conceived through technology, Mundy explores the impact of assisted reproduction on individuals as well as the ethical issues raised and the potentially vast social consequences. Anchor Books, 2008.

Murphy, Dean. Gay Men Pursuing Parenthood Through Surrogacy: Reconfiguring Kinship.   Drawing on data collected from in-depth interviews with gay men living in Australia and the United States, and news media, the book explores how gay men ‘enact’ parenthood and family life in ways that both challenge and reinforce dominant notions of kinship and masculinity. Author feels that the men interviewed is a reflection of the first generation to access assisted reproductive technologies for this purpose and are part of an increasing proportion of gay men becoming parents outside a (previous) heterosexual relationship. The findings demonstrate that men come to experience parenthood desire largely because of the new narratives and opportunities being made available to them today. New South Publishing, 2015.

Nordqvist, Petra & Smart, Carol. “Relative Strangers: Family Life, Genes and Donor Conception. With more and more families in the UK being created with the help of “relative strangers” the book explores the following questions: What does it mean to have a child born through donor conception?; Does it mean different things for heterosexual parents and lesbian parents?; What is it like for the ‘non-genetic’ parent?; and How do grandparents feel about having a grandchild who is conceived with the help of an egg, sperm or embryo donor? This book is from the series Palgrave MacMillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life. 2014.

O’Donnell, Sean Michael. Which One of You is the Mother?: The Absolutely Positively True Adoption Story of Two Gay Dads. The book is the story of how two gay guys finally met the two kids who were always meant to be their sons. While it is a book about adoption it does through humor talk about their experience in 2012 as a gay couple walking into a Pittsburgh-based adoption agency and announcing, “We’d like a child, please.” The book then takes readers through the demands made on them to adopt finally culminating in 2013 with their first son being born and then adopting a second child with the same birth mother. It then talks about all the questions they are asked and the realities of raising two sons. Create Space Independent Publishing, 2015.

Oliver, Lisa, Considering Surrogacy, The purpose of this book is to provide a factual yet balanced report on both sides of the surrogacy process. On the one hand you will find out who can become a surrogate mother and the processes needed to make that happen. But there is also a lot of information here for those people who are looking at engaging a surrogate mother to carry their longed for child. The book explains the legality of the process (it is different according to what state you live in); who can be a surrogate; what costs and payments are involved and how to deal with some of the issues associated with surrogacy such as the emotional bond between mother and child, what to do when things go wrong and how to make the whole surrogacy process as positive as it can be. The book helps both sides to understand who will be involved in this surrogacy journey and is realistic about what each participant will contribute to this delicate balance. Self-published, 2012.

Phillips, Sue. Someone Else’s Child: A Surrogate’s Story. In her late thirties, with three children of her own, Sue Phillips made the decision to carry a baby for a couple who were unable to conceive; she was not asked to do so nor was she to benefit financially as a result. Based on Phillips’s journal, this book details her journey as she considers the possible ramifications on her family and experiences the minefield of bureaucratic, legal, and ethical complexities, the challenges of the IVF process, the pregnancy itself, and, of course, the aftermath of the birth and its effects on all concerned. It reveals the emotional truth of what it is to become a surrogate: the inherent joys, and the intensity of the relationships, and for some the legal uncertainties for both sides. University of Queensland Press (Australia), 2010.

Reese, Elaine. Tell Me a Story, Sharing Stories to Enrich Your Child’s World. This is a wonderful book that focuses on what parents can do to help their children share and tell family stories. It brings together empirical evidence, shared parental wisdom and personal experiences. For parents searching for how to talk with their children about their origins and other things through what the author terms “rich reading”. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Sember, Brette McWhorter. Gay & Lesbian Parenting Choices, Career Press, 2006.

Steiner, Leslie Morgan. The Baby Chase: How Surrogacy Is Transforming the American Family. The book is about a surrogate pregnancy from both sides of the equation–the parents and the gestational carrier. It weaves three stories together — of a nurse, a firefighter, and the Indian gestational carriers and doctors who helped them; providing an intensely personal look at what makes surrogacy so controversial, fascinating, and in some cases, the only ray of hope for today’s infertile parents-to-be. St Martin’s Press, 2013.

Telman, Elly. Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self. Is the first ethnography to probe the intimate experience of gestational surrogate motherhood explaining how surrogates and intended mothers carefully negotiate their cooperative endeavor. Drawing on anthropological fieldwork among Jewish Israeli women, interspersed with cross-cultural perspectives of surrogacy in the global context, the author traces the processes by which surrogates relinquish any maternal claim to the baby even as intended mothers accomplish a complicated transition to motherhood. This careful analysis reveals how surrogates psychologically and emotionally disengage from the fetus they carry while they carry nurture and help create the lasting bond with the intended mother and her baby. University of California Press, 2010.

Wilson-Miller, Wendy & Napoletano, Erika, The Insider’s Guide to Egg Donation, A compassionate and Comprehensive Guide for all Parents-to-Be, Demo Medical Publishing, 2012.

Find books about talking with your children here

Find videos/websites here

Find our Choice Mom CD compilation: “Do I Have a Dad?”

Find our Choice Chat podcasts

Family Building Bibliography 4-18-16 (full bibliography as a PDF download)


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