Congratulations to Samantha Whalen on her successful Thesis Defense!
“Gestational Carrier Bloggers: Key Points of Uncertainty in the Social Exchange with Intended Parents“
Abstract: This research explores how gestational carrier bloggers negotiate social exchanges and their role within their relationship with intended parents. Gestational carriers are part of an arrangement in third-party reproduction in which their role is to carry a pregnancy for intended parents. This research is vital due to the high cost of reproductive technology and the shifting landscape around the legalities of surrogacy that create an unstable framework for a successful exchange and its powerful application to industry regulation. This research utilized a mixed method content analysis of blogs. Ten participants provided blogs and participated in interviews. I argue that there are five key points of uncertainty in the surrogacy exchange: (1) becoming a gestational carrier, (2) matching and contracts, (3) embryo transfers and confirmed pregnancy, (4) labor and delivery, and (5) life after labor. This finding shows where in the exchange uncertainty is in the exchange is that most vulnerable to failure. I argue that uncertainty can be reduced through the application of mediators – surrogacy agencies, legal contracts, and medical personnel – for creating a positive exchange experience with the possibility of a relationship outside the negotiated exchange. Future research should explore the application of the Social Exchange Theory from the perspective of intended parents and the mediators of the exchange, including surrogacy agencies, lawyers and contracts, and medical personnel.