Home Institution

Georgetown University

Publication Date

Fall 2021

Program Name

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender


In this paper, I investigated surrogacy in the Netherlands by interviewing four surrogates and one intended parent about their experiences. I found that the participants shared several common experiences and opinions, especially related to why they chose to be surrogates, how surrogates and intended parents negotiate their relationship during and after pregnancy, the tensions of passing on parenthood and merging families, the (non-binding) contracts that surrogates and parents create, Dutch law, and commercial surrogacy. I argue that much of the discourse around surrogacy relitigates many of the arguments made in favor and against sex work, in that it sets surrogacy apart from other labor as somehow different or special, and it essentializes surrogates as reducible to their biological capabilities. I also argue that surrogacy is another mechanism by which the Netherlands upholds heteronormative standards of family, gender, and sexual presentation. Finally, surrogacy, and the Netherlands’ laws that regulate it, reveal a key tension in the creation and maintenance of families, especially non-normative families.


Dutch Studies | European Languages and Societies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Maternal and Child Health | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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