A white woman in Ohio is suing a sperm bank because she says staff mistakenly gave her vials of semen from an African-American donor after she had requested samples from a white man.
Jennifer Cramblett used the services of the Downers Grove-based Midwest Sperm Bank in 2011 and successfully became pregnant.
She is now raising her two-year-old mixed-race daughter with her same-sex partner, Amanda Zinkon, in Uniontown, Ohio.
Although she became aware of the mix-up when she was pregnant in April 2012, Cramblett says that she has decided to sue the sperm bank now because she has experienced difficulties in the child’s upbringing in a predominantly all-white community – which she describes in the lawsuit as ‘too racially intolerant’.
She is suing for ‘wrongful birth’ and ‘breach of warranty’, saying that she has suffered emotional and economic losses.
The lawsuit, which was republished by the Sun Sentinel, can be read in its entirety here. It states, ‘On August 21, 2012, Jennifer gave birth to Payton, a beautiful, obviously mixed-race baby girl.
‘Jennifer bonded with Payton easily and she and Amanda love her very much. Even so, Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.’
The lawsuits says that the women became aware of the problem when they contacted the clinic to enquire about getting more samples from the same donor, with a view to Zinkon also conceiving a child.
The lawsuit suggests that the error was due to the clinic hand-labeling samples in pen and ink instead of printing clear electronic labels: Cramblett was sent samples from donor ‘330’ instead of donor ‘380’.
When the error became apparent, the clinic wrote a letter of apology and issued Cramblett with a refund for the sperm samples that she had already purchased.
The lawsuit says that because of Cramblett’s upbringing, where family members expressed stereotypical attitudes around non-white people, she has ‘limited cultural competency relative to African Americans’ and is undergoing a ‘steep learning curve.’
‘As just one example, getting a young daughter’s hair cut is not particularly stressful for most mothers, but to Jennifer it is not a routine matter, because Payton has hair typical of an African American girl. To get a decent cut, Jennifer must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome.’
Cramblett believes her child’s welfare and psychological well-being would be improved if the family moved to a more racially diverse area, and that she feels particular stress at the thought of sending her to an all-white school.
In an interview with NBC News, Cramblett said that she had initially been ‘mad’ with the sperm bank for being negligent, and was then upset because she felt they didn’t seem to care about her feelings and emotions.
In talking about the reasons for launching the lawsuit, she said, ‘We decided we had to take this into our hands because… I’m not going to sit back and let this happen to anyone every again.
‘You can’t just do that and say, “Well you got a baby… so you should be happy. Lesbian couples can’t get a baby anyway… you should be happy you have a healthy child”. I am happy that I have a healthy child. We love her more to this day, she’s made us the people that we are, never trade her for the world… but I’m not going to let them get away with not being held accountable.’
The Midwest Sperm Bank has declined to comment on the lawsuit.