This article explores the phenomenon of transnational reproduction, in which prospective parents travel across national boundaries in order to access assisted reproductive technologies. In particular, the author examines transnational egg donation as an “intimate industry,” focusing on the ways in which such industries construct intimacy and intimate social relations among various reproductive actors. How do commissioning parents pursuing gestational surrogacy in India using donor eggs negotiate the process of selecting an egg donor? In addressing this question, the author analyzes the ways in which commissioning parents construct relations with the anonymous egg donor—the genetic parent of the child—as well as with the child conceived through egg donation, in-vitro fertilization, and gestational surrogacy, focusing especially on how doctors and commissioning parents understand notions of race, nationality, and skin color in the context of egg donation. In contrast to dominant assumptions that intended parents primarily seek donors who match their own racial/ethnic backgrounds, most commissioning parents in this study sought Indian egg donors with darker skin tones. This article suggests that while such actions appear to subvert dominant racial hierarchies that privilege white skin, revealing potential spaces of resistance to racialized preconceptions about kinship, they in fact rely on essentialized notions of race and beauty and reflect new articulations of biological race.
1 February 2016