In preparation for the Council on Contemporary Families’ March 2 Annual Conference, Conceiving Families in the 21st Century, the Council asked speakers and CCF Senior Scholars to submit recent research related to the facts and dilemmas of the legal, medical, and social creation of families. The result: Unconventional Wisdom, vol. 7 (out today!) is a highly readable, non-technical survey with fifteen research updates, edited by Joshua Coleman and Stephanie Coontz. Psychologist Coleman and historian Coontz edited the first edition of Unconventional Wisdom in 2007. Eleven years later, the CCF’s new report concludes with a focused, annotated resource list of recent trends and useful facts related to reproductive health and policy.

Coleman, who with Adina Nack (California Lutheran University) is co-organizer of CCF’s upcoming conference, notes that, “Technology, medical advances, health policies, and social change have shaped the new frontier of reproductive health care. Those who receive and provide services face new possibilities and uncharted risks.” As Unconventional Wisdom highlights, the concepts and realities of sex, gender, sexuality, parenthood, and family in the U.S. reflect increasingly complex and inclusive definitions.

For example:

·      As reported by Mary Ann Mason (University of California-Berkeley), a 2013 international study determined that five million babies had been born from assisted reproductive technology. Hard figures, not to mention outcomes for surrogates and infants, are hard to track, with dire consequences for all, including the children who are created. Professor of Law Lisa C. Ikemoto, notes that global businesses evade restrictions enacted by governments to move ova, sperm and embryos, infertility specialists, egg donors and surrogate mothers across national boundaries.

·      Research shared by Caroline Sten Hartnett (University of South Carolina) shows that categories of “intended” versus “unintended” pregnancy don’t capture how women think of their births.

·      A less-considered way of making families includes those who are not having children: Amy Blackstone (University of Maine) advances information about how well those families are doing.

·      Not all can rely on families to advance for well-being. Rutgers (Camden) sociologist Joan Maya Mazelis’s brief highlights community organizations aimed at helping impoverished people with no family to help out.

·      What does college debt have to do with making families? Arielle Kuperberg (The University of North Carolina-Greensboro) reports on how debt influences how and when women (but not men) have children.

Background data to support fresh stories

This year, Unconventional Wisdom also features an annotated list of sources with research highlights from each study, produced by CCF intern Selena Walsh Smith (The Evergreen State College). Topics covered in this section include: studies that show how difficult life is for mothers and children when the pregnancy is experienced as unintended; the benefits of contraception; racial disparities in infertility and maternal mortality; how the U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate among 19 of the world’s richest countries; and other facts about the gains, losses, and gaps in reproductive and child health.

Below is the full table of contents for this easy-to-use report.

Reproductive Tourism: Opportunities and Cost….2

New Babies of Technology: Where is the Voice of the Child?…. 2

Banning Surrogacy Can Be Harmful to Women and Children…. 3

Women in Affairs: Cheating to Save the Marriage…. 3

10 Common Questions of Intended Parents through Egg or Sperm Donation…. 4

Adoption: Are Genes More Powerful Than Parents?…. 4

Women’s Experiences of Intended and Unintended Births…. 5

Reproductive Health Services in the U.S.: Too Much or too Little?…. 5

Where the Millennials Will Take Us: Gender Policies among Young Adults…. 6

LGBTQ Grief over Miscarriage and Failed Adoptions Increased by Discrimination…. 6

More People than ever are not having Babies and They’re Doing Just Fine…. 7

The Opposite of a Shotgun Wedding – Getting Pregnant and Moving Out…. 7

Not Everyone can Rely on their Families when they are Desperate, and for Poor People, it Matters…. 8

Student Loans are Changing our Families in Surprising Ways…. 8

If You’re Infertile, Why Use Condoms?…. 9

U.S. Reproductive Health and Policy Facts…. 10-14

Intended and Unintended Pregnancy – 10

Benefits of Contraception; Consequences of Unintended and Unwanted Births – 10

Infertility and Miscarriages – 11

                 Maternal Mortality – 12Infant and Child Mortality Rates -13

Gains, Losses, and Gaps in Reproductive and Child Health 13-14