Embryo adoption: Emergent forms of siblingship among Snowflakes® families

by Chantal Collard and Shireen Kashmeri

On the basis of interviews with participants in the Snowflakes® embryo adoption program, we examine how siblingship is reconfigured in the absence of a genetic tie between parents and children. For many participants, having genetic siblings is of the utmost importance: siblingship trumps descent. At the same time, embryo adoption creates new forms of siblingship: “batch siblings” and “genetic siblings carried by different mothers.” Although potential incest is a concern to all participants, two models of relationship between placing and adopting families emerge in response: Some families keep in contact, acknowledging but redefining kinship relations to make them more distant. Most often, however, genetic siblingship is not activated between children but, along the model of classic adoption, delayed until later in life.