When Jennifer Cramblett and her partner, Amanda Zinkon, decided to start a family in late 2011, Jennifer chose to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization. To begin the process, the couple went to a sperm bank in their native state of Ohio, USA, to find a suitable donor for their baby. Since they were using a sperm bank, the couple could “shop around” for exactly the kind of man they wanted to be the biological father of their child. The couple had very specific traits in mind that they wanted so that the baby would also look like Amanda and ended up going with donor 380 who had blue eyes, blonde hair and – most importantly – white skin.
After making their choice, Jennifer was inseminated by a doctor using the sperm sample from the sperm bank. Everything went fine and the couple’s dream of starting a family came a step closer to reality.
Nine months later, Jennifer was rushed to the hospital where she got the shock of a lifetime when she gave birth: Her baby girl looked nothing like what she expected. In fact, the baby was black! The couple was absolutely horrified.
How could this happen? As it turns out, the sperm bank accidentally mixed up the white donor the couple requested after an employee misread the handwritten number of the donor 380 as 330, who was an African-American.
On the one hand, Jennifer was heartbroken and had to deal with feelings of anger, disappointment and fear over the prospect of raising a black child. She grew up in a predominantly white town in Ohio and only had her first interaction with a black person when she was in college. She knew next to nothing about African American culture and wasn’t the least bit prepared for transracial parenting. Furthermore, she feared her conservative family would be unwilling to accept her black daughter. She simply could not imagine raising a black child in that environment.
The other side of the problem was that the sperm bank had indeed made a very serious mistake. Mixing up sperm can irreversibly change someone’s life as it did in Jennifer’s case. Many people might say the sperm bank should be held responsible for not delivering what the couple paid for.
In response to the situation, Jennifer is suing the sperm bank on grounds of negligence, breach of contract and fraud. Litigation is currently ongoing and a ruling will be made later this year.
The sperm bank needs to be held accountable for not providing Jennifer and Amanda with the sperm of the donor they requested. A mistake of this kind is simply not acceptable in this day and age as it will impact the young couple for the rest of their lives in ways they never could have anticipated. Their lawsuit has attracted a lot of attention around the country and people have begun to raise serious questions about the couple’s parenting style. In response, Jennifer and Amanda have made it very clear that they love their daughter with all their hearts. The couple has even gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure their child has the best possible upbringing, including driving miles to a hair salon specialized in cutting African-American hair and seeking consultation from social workers and sociologists. The couple is truly making every effort imaginable to raise their daughter to be a compassionate human being who is accepting of people from all walks of life.
What do you think? Should the sperm bank be held accountable for the mixup?