The number of children born through surrogacy has increased dramatically in the past several decades, up from 2,000 just fifteen years ago to over 17,000 in 2007. Susan Golombok of the Centre for Family Research, Faculty of Politics, Psychology, Sociology and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, has conducted prior research on surrogacy and preschool-aged children, but recently led a new phase of the study examining the effects of surrogacy on older children. “There are two types of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate mother and the commissioning father are the genetic parents of the child, and gestational surrogacy, in which the commissioning mother and father are the genetic parents,” said Golombok. “Thus, children born through gestational surrogacy lack a gestational link with their mother, and children born through traditional surrogacy lack both a gestational and a genetic link.”
In her previous research, Golombok found little differences between biological families and surrogate families of preschoolers. However, when she examined factors of maternal mutuality, positivity and warmth in the families of seven-year-old surrogate children, the results varied. “There was a difference, however, between the surrogacy families and the natural conception families for the observational measure of mutuality, reflecting less positive mother–child interaction among the surrogacy than the natural conception mother–child dyads,” said Golombok. “The unexpected finding of significantly lower levels of mutuality in both the surrogacy and the egg donation families than in the natural conception families suggests that the absence of a biological link between the mother and her child may be associated with less positive mother–child interaction at age 7.” But, even in light of these differences, Golombok noted that surrogate families still functioned very well overall. She added, “Thus, the findings of the present phase of the study add to the growing body of literature indicating that the quality of family relationships has a greater influence on children’s psychological well-being than the presence or absence of a biological connection between the mother and the child.”
Golombok, Susan, Jennifer Readings, Lucy Blake, Polly Casey, Alex Marks, and Vasanti Jadva. “Families Created through Surrogacy: Mother–child Relationships and Children’s Psychological Adjustment at Age 7.” Developmental Psychology 47.6 (2011): 1579-588. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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