Stuck under the Rainbow? Gay Parents’ Experiences with Transnational Surrogacy and Family Formation in Times of COVID-19 Lockdown

Salvatore Monaco, Urban Nothdurfter


Scientific progress in the medical field has contributed to the realisation of becoming parents by people who have previously been naturally excluded from procreation and parenthood, such as older, non-fertile, and homosexual persons and couples. However, depending on specific national regulations, possible pathways to becoming parents are different and often reserved only for some categories of people. This is the case, for example, in Italy, where it is more difficult for homosexual people to have a family than it is for others, since national legislation prohibits homosexuals from using any form of third-party reproduction. Consequently, many Italian same-sex couples turn to agencies abroad to realise their desire to have children, giving rise to transnational practices of family formation. The COVID-19 pandemic and severe lockdown policies have exacerbated some critical aspects of this transnational system of access to parenting. To fight the spread of coronavirus, national governments have placed limits on mobility and, consequently, also placed limits on transnational practices and trajectories of family formation. The specific aim of this paper is to provide insights into the experiences of some gay Italian fathers-to-be who have been blocked in their transnational family formation projects because of coronavirus lockdown measures. The focus lies on how these men reacted to feeling “stuck” and seeing their plans of receiving and/or bringing home their children suddenly foiled by the lockdown measures. Particular attention is paid to how these men coped with exacerbated challenges in the transnational practices of reproduction and family formation.

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