White Mother Sues Sperm Bank After Giving Birth To Mixed Race Baby

According to the Chicago Tribune, Jennifer Cramblett, who is white, is suing Midwest Sperm Bank for “wrongful birth and breach of warranty” because, she alleges, the sperm bank gave her African-American sperm instead of the white sperm she requested and thus she gave birth to a mixed race baby. Citing the “emotional and economic losses she has suffered,” Cramblett goes on to say her in suit that while she and her white female partner, Amanda Zinkon, love their daughter Payton “very much,” they live “each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.” Apparently, Cramblett and Zinkon live in a rather close-minded, very white town and raising a mixed race baby has been “stressful.” Additionally, the couple was also each raised in predominantly white communities with stereotypical attitudes about nonwhites, the lawsuit states, and didn’t meet any African-Americans until college. The lawsuit goes on, “Because of this background and upbringing, Jennifer acknowledges her limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans and steep learning curve, particularly in small, homogenous Uniontown, which she regards as too racially intolerant.” For example, Cramblett must take Payton to get her hair cut in an African-American neighborhood, “where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome.”

In 2011, Cramblett and Zinkon contacted Midwest Sperm Bank about procuring vials of donor sperm so they could have a child. After looking through the bank’s comprehensive background information on various donors, the couple settled on Donor 380, who is also white. In September of that year, their vials of sperm were delivered, but unbeknownst to them at the time, Midwest had accidentally sent the couple sperm from Donor 330, who is African-American. Apparently the mix-up happened because the bank uses handwritten records and their order was misread. Cramblett and Zinkon discovered the error in April 2012 while Cramblett was still pregnant; they ordered more vials of sperm from the same donor and realized they did not match up. Payton was born in August 2012, and clearly of mixed race. The sperm bank acknowledged the error and issued the couple a refund.

Cramblett goes on to describe the difficulties she and her partner are facing as they go about raising a mixed race child. She describes being concerned that her “all white and unconsciously insensitive family,” who is still having trouble accepting that she is gay, won’t be able to fully embrace Payton, and she expresses additional concern about Payton being accepted in a predominantly white school. “Though compelled to repress her individuality amongst family members, Payton’s differences are irrepressible, and Jennifer does not want Payton to feel stigmatized or unrecognized due simply to the circumstances of her birth.” Her therapists have advised the couple to move to a more racially diverse neighborhood, which I happen to think is a great idea.

Look, I get the need for a lawsuit here. It’s concerning that a sperm bank made such a massive error. I wouldn’t be surprised if this has happened before and it should be prevented from happening again. However, this lawsuit and it’s racial implications smell a heck of a lot like Cramblett has some issues with suddenly being a parent to a mixed race child and the fact that it will force her to actually expand her cultural competency in regards to African-Americans. What a pain in the ass! Obviously it’s terrible that her family and community are not more accepting, but it’s the job of all parents to teach their kids about the existence of racism and why it’s wrong, including when people we love use language that is prejudiced and insensitive. Black, white, green or pink, by deciding to be parents, Cramblett and Zinkon took on the responsibility of prioritizing their child’s happiness and well-being. No parent necessarily knows what kind of challenges will present themselves and how they might have to adjust their lives. Their community and extended family may just be the challenge they didn’t expect. For Payton’s own good, I hope Cramblett and Zinkon will worry less about getting the wrong sperm, and more about raising their daughter in an environment that accepts her for exactly who she is. [Chicago Tribune via Jezebel]

[Photo of adorable child via Shutterstock]