Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates

Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families

Diane Ehrensaft

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
July 5, 2005
ISBN 9781593851798
Price: $58.00 $43.50
305 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
July 6, 2005
ISBN 9781593851330
Price: $17.95 $13.46
305 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
June 28, 2011
ePub ?
Price: $17.95 $13.46
305 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (ePub) ?
Price: $35.90 $19.74
305 Pages

If you need help having a baby, reproductive technology can supply the answer. But it also raises a host of questions that won’t arise until after the child is born: What will you say to “Where did I come from?” when the answer includes a donor or surrogate? Will knowing the truth about how you conceived make your child love you less? Will having a baby with someone else strain your relationship with your spouse or partner? What will grandparents, family members, friends, and coworkers think? Dr. Diane Ehrensaft—a developmental and clinical psychologist who’s worked with families formed using assisted reproductive technology for more than 20 years—helps you anticipate the big questions and find solutions that are right for you and your loved ones. Dr. Ehrensaft offers information, support, and straightforward advice for coping with private worries, confronting public prejudices, and raising happy, healthy children. Single or married, straight or gay, anyone looking forward to the joys and challenges of building a family with the help of a donor or surrogate will discover a wealth of thought-provoking ideas and fresh insights in this sensitive, practical, and positive book.

“The highlight of the text is the variety of experiences covered....This book helps to increase our understanding and awareness of families impacted by assisted reproduction in all its many forms.”

The Family Journal

“Above all, Ehrensaft's book is a reassuring one....Ehrensaft uses her experience as a therapist to break down the potential parent's insecurity, gently encouraging her to face her fears, the better to overcome essential addition to the literature—and an unusually well-written one.”

Parents' Press

“A must-read for anyone thinking of having a child with the help of a 'birth other' in Ehrensaft's coinage, this book can help all of us understand these new families. We are luck Ehrensaft has given us this intensely knowledgeable and humane book.”

Today's Parent

“Diane Ehrensaft brings the insight of a clinical and developmental psychologist to all the big questions that arise both before family creation with donor conception and afterwards....A pleasure to read and accessible to all who enjoy getting information from books....She addresses not only the obvious feelings and practicalities faced by would-be parents, but also some of the more difficult emotions and fantasies that are often around but rarely spoken about. All this is undertaken with great empathy for the would-be parent(s).”

Donor Conception Network

“Honest, down-to-earth...An experienced therapist, [Ehrensaft] acknowledges up front many things we do that we shouldn't: social moms feeling jealous of surrogates, parents hiding the truth from their children, etc. She understandsand then nudges parents in a better direction. This is a terrifically useful book for nontraditional families and everyone (teachers, ministers, therapists) who works with them.”

Publishers Weekly

“I was blown away by this book. It is the book for anyone who used or is thinking of using any kind of assisted reproduction to help create a family. So many of us are afraid to talk openly about—or just don't know how to talk about—the ways our families were created. This book will help you deal with your own anxieties and confusions and then be able to talk about them in a more comfortable way. Reading it is like talking with a good friend who really understands the big picture, with all its complexities and poignancy. I am overjoyed that a book like this is finally available.”

—Jane Mattes, CSW, psychotherapist and founder of Single Mothers by Choice

“Dr. Ehrensaft has written an extraordinarily sensitive yet comprehensive book about the issues raised when a surrogate or donor is involved in creating a child. She covers everything from the fears and fantasies of parents-to-be to whether, when, and what to tell children about their origins. This fascinating, thought-provoking book is a 'must' for anyone contemplating taking advantage of these new technologies.”

—Kim Paleg, PhD, author of The Ten Things Every Parent Needs to Know and "new technology" mother

“This is a great resource. It offers concrete examples and suggestions for dealing with many issues that are likely to come up as I raise my kids. There is so much to learn from the stories Dr. Ehrensaft shares of others who have walked this path before me.”

—Anne-Marie, "new technology" mother of two

“This is the first book to map the emotional terrain of parenthood that is aided by a 'birth other,' the author's inventive term for a donor or surrogate. Dr. Ehrensaft sensitively explores the hopes and dreams, concerns and fears of parents and prospective parents, and offers the best available knowledge for facing the tough questions. Wise, highly readable, and insightful, this is an essential guide.”

—Anne C. Bernstein, PhD, author of Yours, Mine, and Ours and Flight of the Stork: How Children Think (and When) about Sex and Family Building

“This groundbreaking book demystifies technology and focuses our attention where it should be—on the gift of life, and the human beings involved in creating a family. Dr. Ehrensaft tackles your medical questions, your psychological questions, and your parenting questions, all in one readable, authoritative volume.”

—Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, Department of Family Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

“Few issues are more stressful than navigating the emotional minefield of assisted reproduction. Diane Ehrensaft serves as a sensitive, knowledgeable, and inclusive guide through the minefield. Her understanding of the assisted reproduction process and the often difficult and thorny issues it raises for couples and individuals is brilliant. Dr. Ehrensaft's refreshing openness and deft touch make this an invaluable resource.”

—Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights

Table of Contents


1. Beware Gifts Bearing Children

2. The Power to Create, the Fear of Creation

3. Procreation with the Proper Stranger

4. You're Mine . . . or Are You?

5. What's Love Got to Do with It?

6. Should I Tell?

7. When to Tell

8. The Birds and the Bees and the Nice Man or Woman

9. How Do the Children Fare?

10. When Clear Thinking Trumps Anxiety


About the Author

Diane Ehrensaft, PhD, is a developmental and clinical psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area and Director of Mental Health and founding member of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center, a partnership between the University of California San Francisco and community agencies. Dr. Ehrensaft’s research and writing focus on the areas of child development, gender, gender-nonconforming and transgender children and youth, parenting, parent–child relationships, LGBTQI families, and psychological issues for families using assisted reproductive technology. She has published several books and articles in these areas and lectures, serves as an expert witness, and makes media appearances nationally and internationally on these topics. Dr. Ehrensaft has a clinical practice in Oakland, California, where she sees adults, children, and adolescents.


Parents and prospective parents who are thinking about starting a family with the help of "someone else." Also of interest to professionals working with families.