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Beyond genes: identifying donor siblings through DNA-testing in the experience of sperm donor conceived adults (England, France)

Abstract : Alice was conceived with a sperm donation in the 1980s in England. Through a DNA test, she identified a man conceived with the same donor, whom she calls her “half-brother”. She expresses the paradox of their situation: “we have lots of things in common because we're related. But we're total strangers”. How to consider this stranger with whom she shares common origins? How to make sense of a connection that was not supposed to be uncovered under the anonymity system, and for which no legal or social category exist (Hertz & Nelson 2019)? Furthermore, how to think of the coexistence of this new figure and the brother Alice grew up with, who might have been conceived with a different donor? The aim of this presentation is to analyze, in a social-anthropological perspective, what the search and access to origins through DNA-testing produce for sperm donor conceived people, with a special focus on siblingship (Edwards 2015). I draw on a comparison between the UK and France where the state had originally prevented contacts between sperm donors and donor offspring, and between donor siblings. DNA testing has since brought new connections to light, which may seem, on the face of it, primarily based on gene sharing: donor siblings and the donors’ children. While genetic genealogy websites do not differentiate such connections, the narratives of donor offspring actually involve relational distinctions between the siblings they have grown up with, donor siblings and the donors’ children. I will show how genes are incorporated in discourses that exceed them (Indekeu & Hens 2019), which leads to the emergence of new statuses. I rely on a qualitative study through in-depths interviews with 52 sperm donor conceived adults in England and in France, among whom 16 have identified a donor sibling through DNA testing.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03447772
Contributor : Anaïs Martin Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - 6:57:47 PM
Last modification on : Friday, November 26, 2021 - 3:18:16 AM

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Anaïs Martin. Beyond genes: identifying donor siblings through DNA-testing in the experience of sperm donor conceived adults (England, France). Workshop "The complicated relationship between genetic relatedness, the family, and the state", Disa Helander; Daniela Cutas; CFA, Umeå University, May 2020, Umeå, Sweden. ⟨hal-03447772⟩

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