The ongoing work of kinship among donor half-siblings in The Netherlands
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Number of pages
08 oktober 2021
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
This article explores how Dutch people conceived via sperm donation attempted to make or unmake kinship with donor half-siblings, 'strangers' who are recently found to be 'relatives.' Research participants tried to gain a sense of agency in their kinship situation through DNA testing, but were challenged by how many unforeseen kin could emerge in this process. We examined how genetic ties were turned into social kinship and how they were unmade. In this work of kinship we differentiate three different phases: (1) searching for kin, (2) meeting half-siblings, and (3) kinning, de-kinning and/or being de-kinned. Our analysis shows that, while kinning and de-kinning in phase 1 and 2 was at first mainly determined by physical resemblances, as the contact intensified in phase 3, shared values and social similarities became increasingly important. We discuss the female overrepresentation in the search for donor kinship, which indicates that kinwork is mostly women’s work.
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