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Labor of Love
Labor of Love: Gestational Surrogacy
and the Work of Making Babies

Rutgers University Press * March 2016 * ISBN-978-0-8135-6950-5

While the practice of surrogacy has existed for millennia, new fertility technologies now allow women to act as gestational surrogates, carrying children who are not genetically related to them. While some women volunteer to act as gestational surrogates, others get paid for performing this service. Labor of Love, the first book-length ethnographic study of gestational surrogacy in the United States, examines the conflicted attitudes that emerge when the ostensibly priceless act of bringing a child into the world becomes a compensated activity. Through extensive field research with surrogates, their family members, intended parents who employ surrogates, and the various professionals who facilitate the process, Labor of Love gives readers a firsthand look at the challenges faced by women who labor to bring children into the world for others.

…this book stands out in its framing of surrogacy as work—paid work—and its depiction of the ways that surrogates deny the label of “work” because they see their interests in surrogacy as a calling, a “labor of love.” Jacobson offers the reader valuable insight into the commitment and sacrifice the surrogates and their families engage in throughout the process as well as their
relationships with the intended parents and surrogacy professionals. Stephanie Gonzalez Guittar, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Aurora University, in Sociological Inquiry


Labor of Love is a thorough, thoughtful, well-researched analysis of women’s labor in the commercial gestational surrogacy market in the United States.” Caitlyn Collins, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Washington University in St. Louis, in Gender & Society


Labor of Love beautifully illuminates the work of surrogacy, exploring a world in which women have children for other women. Jacobson skillfully interweaves stories of actual participants with commentary and analysis, providing original insights into the complexities of reproduction.

Naomi Cahn, Harold H. Greene Chair, George Washington University Law School


Labor of Love is an engaging and well-researched study of contemporary surrogacy in the United States. Jacobson thoughtfully exposes the contradictions surrogates navigate as they downplay the commercial aspects of the transaction and obscure the labor involved in being a surrogate.

Susan Markens, Lehman College and The Graduate Center, CUNY

Culture Keeping
Culture Keeping: White Mothers, International Adoption, and the Negotiation of Family Difference

Vanderbilt University Press * November 2008 * ISBN-978-0-8265-1618-3

Since the early 1990s, close to 250,000 children born abroad have been adopted into the United States. Nearly half of these children have come from China and Russia. In Culture Keeping Heather Jacobson examines these adoptions by focusing on a relatively new phenomenon: the practice by international adoptive parents, mothers in particular, of incorporating aspects of their children's cultures of origin into their families' lives. Jacobson follows white adoptive mothers as they navigate culture keeping: from their motivations, to the pressures and constraints they face, to the content of their actual practices concerning names, food, toys, travel, cultural events, and communities of belonging. Through her interviews, she explores how women think about their children, their families, and themselves as mothers as they labor to construct or resist ethnic identities for their children. The choices these women make about culture, Jacobson argues, offer a window into dominant ideas of race and the "American Family," and into how social differences are conceived and negotiated in the United States.

 ...a must-read for all adoptive parents.
Women's Review of Books


Culture Keeping is a sensitive and sympathetic, yet intellectually sophisticated examination of the dynamics of ethnic identity among families who have adopted children from China and Russia. Heather Jacobson shows how American racial dynamics and conceptions of kinship shape the ways in which these interracial families are seen by others and the ways in which adoptive parents work to provide their children with an ethnic identity that reflects their birthplaces. Theoretically rich and empirically rigorous, this book is a valuable contribution to the fields of sociology and family studies. It also is a wonderful resource for adoptive parents because it provides a wider view of the cultural practices and child rearing strategies they engage in.
Mary C. Waters, M.E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology, Harvard University


Culture Keeping is the first comparative study of transnational adoption of Chinese and Russia children by white women in the United States. Jacobson's insightful analysis of the mothers' discourse and practice sheds critical light on the racial underpinnings of normal American family and kinship.

Judith Stacey, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University

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