A family need not be a mother, father, sister, brother. Thankfully, we live in a diverse world. Today, in any random-neighborhood, suburban street, or city block, a single mother with three children, might live next to a couple who, married for the second time, blended their families like The Brady Bunch. Across the street might live two, happily-married, gay men with their four-year-old, adopted daughter. Three houses down, a dual-income husband and wife have been married for years but struggle with infertility.
As the infertile couple works with a doctor, they are likely to investigate the myriad of options available for them to start a family. They might look into domestic and international adoption, they could try artificial insemination, or more invasive procedures, like in vitro fertilization. If the husband learns he has problems with sperm morphology or mobility, they might look into obtaining donor sperm. If the wife’s eggs are not viable, they might consider donor eggs. They might even begin to investigate opportunities to obtain donor embryos.
If successful, either in adopting or giving birth using assisted reproductive technologies, the infertile couple may raise a child not biologically-related to one or both of them. Back to my initial question: What makes a family? Certainly, biological relation does bind some to their families. However, it need not be a factor. To me, it doesn’t matter how the family came to be, unconditional love, support, a sense of belonging are the hallmarks of family.
What’s striking about my novel, Double Out and Back is that it explores from a literary perspective, some of the social issues faced by a generation that has more options than ever when it comes to starting a family. What fascinates me is that when it comes right down to it, even with the technological advancements in reproduction and healthcare, families still must rely on one another to thrive.
Special note: I love the new show Modern Family! I think the photo of the fantastic cast perfectly illustrated this article!
Best to you!
Lisa Lipkind Leibow
Author of Smart Women’s Fiction