Becoming a mother through egg donation: women’s reflections in on-line discussion forums in Bulgaria


  • I. Todorova
  • Y. Panayotova
  • T. Kotzeva
  • R. Todorova
  • S. Rötschke


Background: We aim to understand how motherhood is constructed in on-line discussion forums, dedicated to the assisted reproductive technology (ART) of egg donation. In Bulgaria egg donation is available and regulated, synchronized with EU legislation. We follow women’s discussions to understand how recipients of donated eggs construct identities and negotiate discourses of genetics, motherhood and femininity. Methods: We analyze texts from 8 discussion forums (2007 – 2016). A total of 765 postings were selected, with inclusion criteria of minimal length of 10 lines from women who were recipients of donated eggs or were considering it. Data were analyzed through thematic analysis with a focus on language, informed by a discursive perspective. Findings: We identified the following themes regarding constructions of motherhood: Dilemmas about genetic continuity and discontinuity between mother and child; Motherhood through egg donation as a last resort; Motherhood as gestation and nurturing; Becoming a mother at any price - fighting and persisting. Discussion: The current visibility and accessibility of infertility treatment in Bulgaria has shifted meanings of infertility away from those of stigma and defectiveness, to those of persistence in achieving pregnancy. The procedure of egg donation in the treatment for infertility however adds an additional dimension which provokes dilemmas. In pronatalistic societies such as the Bulgarian one, the genetic link between parents and children is highly valued, while egg donation modifies this link. In this case women construct identities through sustaining the motherhood mandate and at the same time disrupting the genetic definitions of parenthood.