The Transformation of Family Ties as a Result of Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Keywords: reproductive donation, assisted reproductive technology, family bonds, genetic parenthood, social parenthood, reproductive rights


Third-party involvement in parenting projects alters our perception of kin and family ties. Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) cause a fragmentation of parenthood: parental contributions are differentiated into technical operations, while some of these operations are delegated to third parties during conception, gestation, birth, and upbringing. In this article, the authors focus on the discussion of reproductive legislation and demonstrate how ART are medicalised with a view to ensuring an imitation of genetic kinship in the interests of infertile couples. In the second part, the authors analyse recent scholarship in psychology on the social, psychological, and ethical challenges that families encounter because genetic and social parenthood become separated by ART. The re-assembling of family bonds involves linguistic, conceptual, and relationship levels. The authors highlight the trend towards the deanonymisation of reproductive donations and the inclusion of donors into parental projects. In the third part, the article focuses on the practices of informal sperm donation and the formation of new family and kin bonds that are based on genetic kinship and in various combinations may include donors and/or children conceived by one donor and their social parents. The article refers to interviews with sperm donors who offer their services through special online platforms. These men invest in effective donation but are not interested in sexual or marital relations with the recipient women. However, they agree to commit to supporting the recipients and parenting their offspring. As a result, co-parenting transcends traditional family ties by reconfiguring genetic and social parenthood. The authors conclude that in the modern world, family bonds are undergoing a major reconceptualisation due to the development of ART.

Author Biographies

Elvira Symaniuk

Dr. Hab. (Psychology), Head of the Department of General and Social Psychology, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-7591-7230

Irina Polyakova

Research Fellow, Interregional Institute of Social Sciences, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-9619-2152

Andrey Menshikov

PhD (Philosophy), Head of the Research Center for Comparative Studies of Toleration and Recognition, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0003-1070-2551


Beeson, D. R., Jennings, P. K., Kramer, W. (2011). Offspring Searching for Their Sperm Donors: How Family Type Shapes the Process. In Human Reproduction. Vol. 26. No. 9, pp. 2415–2424. DOI 10.1093/humrep/der202.

Berend, Z. (2014). The Social Context for Surrogates’ Motivations and Satisfaction. In Reproductive BioMedicine Online. Vol. 29. No. 4, pp. 399–401. DOI 10.1016/j.rbmo.2014.07.001.

Chernova, N. (2021). Surrogatnoe sledstvie [Surrogate Inquest]. In Novaya gazeta [website]. 5 June. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022)

Chetvertaya Vsemirnaya konferentsiya po polozheniyu zhenshchin. Pekin 4–15 sentyabrya 1995 g. (izvlecheniya) [Fourth World Conference on the Position of Women: Beijing, 4–15 September 1995 (excerpts)]. (1995). In Organizatsiya Ob”edinennykh Natsii [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Cutas, D., Chan, S. (2012). Introduction. Perspectives on Private and Family Life. In Cutas, D., Chan, S. (Eds.). Families Beyond the Nuclear Ideal. L., Bloomsbury, pp. 1–12.

Davis, J., Kim, C. L., Anderson, T. L., Finger, R. (2020). Embryo Recipients’ Considerations of Connections with Donors. In Adoption Quarterly. Vol. 23. No. 4, pp. 243–265. DOI 10.1080/10926755.2020.1833390.

Dokumenty Organizatsii Ob”edinennykh Natsii: rezolyutsii General’noi assamblei OON [Documents of the United Nations: Resolutions of the UN General Assembly]. (1994). In Organizatsiya Ob”edinennykh Natsii [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Facchin, F., Leone, D. et al. (2020). Working with Infertile Couples Seeking Assisted Reproduction: An Interpretative Phenomenological Study with Infertility Care Providers. In Frontiers in Psychology. Vol. 11. Art. 586873. DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.586873.

Filippova, G. G. (2014). Reproduktivnaya psikhologiya: psikhologicheskaya pomoshch’ besplodnym param pri ispol’zovanii vspomogatel’nykh reproduktivnykh tekhnologii [Reproductive Psychology: Psychological Assistance to Infertile Couples Using Assisted Reproductive Technologies]. In Klinicheskaya i meditsinskaya psikhologiya: issledovaniya, obuchenie, praktika. Elektronnyi nauchnyi zhurnal. No. 3 (5) [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Graham, S., Mohr, S., Bourne, K. (2016). Regulating the ‘Good’ Donor: The Expectations and Experiences of Sperm Donors in Denmark and Victoria, Australia. In Golombok, S., Scott, R., Appleby, J. B., Richards, M., Wilkinson, S. (Eds.). Regulating Reproductive Donation. Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press, pp. 207–231.

Indekeu, A., Bolt, S. H., Maas, A. J. B. M. (2021). Meeting Multiple Same-Donor Offspring: Psychosocial Challenges. In Human Fertility. Vol. 12, pp. 1–16. DOI 10.1080/14647273.2021.1872804.

Indekeu, A., Hens, K. (2018). Part of My Story. The Meaning and Experiences of Genes and Genetics for Sperm Donor-Conceived Offspring. In New Genetics and Society. Vol. 38. No. 1, pp. 18–37. DOI 10.1080/14636778.2018.1549476.

Indekeu, A., Lampic, C. (2021). The Interaction between Donor-Conceived Families and Their Environment: Parents’ Perceptions of Societal Understanding and Attitudes Regarding Their Family-Building. In Human Fertility. Vol. 24. No. 21, pp. 14–23. DOI 10.1080/14647273.2018.1533256.

Infertility. (N. d.). In World Health Organization [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Inhorn, M. C., Patrizio, P. (2015). Infertility around the Globe: New Thinking on Gender, Reproductive Technologies and Global Movements in the 21st Century. In Human Reproduction Update. Vol. 21. No. 4, pp. 411–426. DOI 10.1093/humupd/dmv016.

Isupova, O.G. (2011). Pravo khotet’ slishkom sil’no: biotekhnologii i reproduktivnye zhelaniya [The Right to Want Too Much: Biotechnology and Reproductive Desires]. In Demoskop Weekly [website]. No. 453–454. February 7–20. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Isupova, O.G. (2014). Rody kak tsennost’ v internet-diskurse subfertil’nykh zhenshchin o donorstve yaitsekletok i surrogatnom materinstve [Childbirth as a Value in the Online Discourse of Subfertile Women about Egg Donation and Surrogacy]. In Zhurnal issledovanii sotsial’noi politiki. Vol. 12. No. 3, pp. 381–396.

Janssens, P. M., Nap, A. W., Bancsi, L. F. (2011). Reconsidering the Number of Offspring per Gamete Donor in the Dutch Open-Identity System. In Human Fertility. Vol. 14. No. 2, pp. 106–114. DOI 10.3109/14647273.2011.577886.

Klinicheskie rekomendatsii. Zhenskoe besplodie. 2021-2022-2023 (24.06.2021). Utverzhdeny Minzdravom RF [Clinical Recommendations. Female Infertility. 2021-2022-2023 (24.06.2021). Approved by the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation]. (2021). In Moskovskii oblastnoi nauchno-issledovatel’skii institut akusherstva i ginekologii [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Larkina, T. Yu. (2020). Chei eto rebenok? Problema konstruirovaniya i dekonstruirovaniya rodstvennykh uz na rynke donorskikh gamet [Whose Child is This? The Problem of the Construction and Deconstruction of Related Bonds in the Market of Donor Gametes]. In Interaktsiya. Interv’yu. Interpretatsiya. Vol. 12. No. 4, pp. 73–92. DOI 10.19181/inter.2020.12.4.6.

Mohr, S. (2014). Beyond Motivation: On What It Means to Be a Sperm Donor in Denmark. In Anthropology & Medicine. Vol. 21. No. 2, pp. 162–173. DOI 10.1080/13648470.2014.914806.

Nelson, M. K., Hertz, R., Kramer, W. (2016). Gamete Donor Anonymity and Limits on Numbers of Offspring: The Views of Three Stakeholders. In J. of Law and the Biosciences. Vol. 3. No. 1, pp. 39–67. DOI 10.1093/jlb/lsv045.

Ob osnovakh okhrany zdorov’ya grazhdan v Rossiiskoi Federatsii. Federal’nyi zakon ot 21.11.2011 No. 323-FZ (red. ot 26.03.2022). Stat’ya 55. Primenenie vspomogatel’nykh reproduktivnykh tekhnologii [On the Fundamentals of Protecting the Health of Citizens in the Russian Federation. Federal Law No. 323-FZ of 21 November 2011 (as Amended on 26 March 2022). Article 55. Use of Assisted Reproductive Technologies]. (2022). In Konsul’tant Plyus. Informatsionno-pravovaya sistema [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Ob utverzhdenii Kontseptsii demograficheskoi politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii na period do 2025 goda. (V redaktsii Ukaza Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii ot 01.07.2014 g. No. 483) [On Approval of the Concept of the Demographic Policy of the Russian Federation for the Period up to 2025 (as Amended by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 01.07.2014 No. 483)]. In Prezident Rossii [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Provoost, V., Bernaerdt, J. et al. (2017). “No daddy”, “A kind of daddy”: Words Used by Donor Conceived Children and (Aspiring) Parents to Refer to the Sperm Donor. In Culture, Health & Sexuality. Vol. 20. No. 4, pp. 381–396. DOI 10.1080/13691058.2017.1349180.

Ravelingien, A., Provoost, V., Pennings, G. (2015). Open-Identity Sperm Donation: How Does Offering Donor-Identifying Information Relate to Donor-Conceived Offspring’s Wishes and Needs? In J. of Bioethical Inquiry. Vol. 12. No. 3, pp. 503–509. DOI 10.1007/s11673-014-9550-3.

Ravelingien, A., Provoost, V., Pennings, G. (2016). Creating a Family Through Connection Websites and Events: Ethical and Social Issues. In Reproductive Biomedicine Online. Vol. 33. No. 4, pp. 522–528. DOI 10.1016/j.rbmo.2016.07.004.

Readings, J., Blake, L. et al. (2011). Secrecy, Disclosure and Everything in-between: Decisions of Parents of Children Conceived by Donor Insemination, Egg Donation and Surrogacy. In Reproductive Biomedicine Online. Vol. 22. No. 5, pp. 485–495. DOI 10.1016/j.rbmo.2011.01.014.

Scheib, J., Ruby, A., Benward, J. (2017). Who Requests Their Sperm Donor’s Identity? The First Years of Information Releases to Adults with Open-Identity Donors. In Fertility and Sterility. Vol. 107. No. 2, pp. 483–493. DOI 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.10.023.

Semeinyi kodeks Rossiiskoi Federatsii ot 29.12.1995 No. 223-FZ [The Family Code of the Russian Federation of 29 December 1995, No. 223-FZ]. (1995). In Konsul’tant Plyus. Informatsionno-pravovaya sistema [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Shchurko, T. (2015). (Bio)politicheskie igry: vspomogatel’nye reproduktivnye tekhnologii v Belarusi [(Bio)political Games: Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Belarus]. In Topos. No. 2–3, pp. 108–126.

Sobolevskaya, O. V. (2017). Deti iz probirki: tirazh ogranichen [Test Tube Babies: Limited Edition]. In IQ [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Storrow, R. (2002). Parenthood by Pure Intention: Assisted Reproduction and the Functional Approach to Parentage. In Hastings Law J. Vol. 53. No. 3, pp. 597–679. DOI 10.2139/ssrn.310162.

Strathern, M. (1995) Displacing Knowledge: Technology and the Consequences for Kinship // In Ginsburg, F., Rapp, R. (Eds.). Conceiving the New World Order. Berkeley, Univ. of California Press, pp. 346–363.

Thorn, P. (2013). The Shift from Biological to Social Fatherhood – Counselling Men and Their Partners Considering Donor Insemination. In Human Fertility. Vol. 16. No. 1, pp. 40–43. DOI 10.3109/14647273.2013.777476.

Tkach, O. A. (2013). Napolovinu rodnye? Problematizatsiya rodstva i sem’i v gazetnykh publikatsiyakh o vspomogatel’nykh reproduktivnykh tekhnologiyakh [Half Family? The Problematisation of Kinship and Family in Newspaper Publications on Assisted Reproductive Technologies]. In Zhurnal issledovanii sotsial’noi politiki. Vol. 11. No. 1, pp. 49–68.

V Moskve za torgovlyu det’mi zaderzhan kitaets [Chinese Man Arrested for Child Trafficking in Moscow]. (2021). In Kommersant [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

V perinatal’nom tsentre pereputali embriony pri EKO [Embryos Mixed up during IVF in a Perinatal Centre]. (2021). In Е1 [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Van den Akker, O. B. A. et al. (2015). Expectations and Experiences of Gamete Donors and Donor-Conceived Adults Searching for Genetic Relatives Using DNA Linking Through a Voluntary Register. In Human Reproduction. Vol. 30. No. 1, pp. 111–121. DOI 10.1093/humrep/deu289.

Vozzvanie Tegeranskoi konferentsii. Prinyato 13 maya 1968 g. Mezhdunarodnoi konferentsiei po pravam cheloveka v Tegerane [Proclamation of the Tehran Conference: Adopted on 13 May 1968 by the International Conference on Human Rights in Tehran]. (1994). In Organizatsiya Ob”edinennykh Natsii [website]. URL: (accessed: 08.02.2022).

Wade, K. (2017). The Regulation of Surrogacy: A Children’s Rights Perspective. In Child and Family Law Quarterly. Vol. 29. No. 2, pp. 113–131.

Wilson, T. L. (2016). Unravelling Orders in a Borderless Europe? Cross-Border Reproductive Care and the Paradoxes of Assisted Reproductive Technology Policy in Germany and Poland. In Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online. No. 3, pp. 48–59. DOI 10.1016/j.rbms.2017.02.002.

How to Cite
Symaniuk, E., Polyakova, I., & Menshikov, A. (2022). The Transformation of Family Ties as a Result of Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Quaestio Rossica, 10(2), 657–676.
Problema voluminis