Ohio woman Jennifer Cramblett is suing Midwest Sperm Bank for mistakenly giving her vials of sperm from the wrong donor. As a result, the woman, who is white, delivered a mixed-race baby girl. The mother and her partner claim that raising a non-white child is difficult in their area and with their families. Two of our Parenting writers share their opposing points of view on the issue.
Rebecca Bahret: Mom has every right to sue
This is about two things: breach of contract and emotional trauma. It isn’t about racist moms.
First, Cramblett and Zinkon contracted with Midwest Sperm Bank for a specific product. That product wasn’t delivered as promised. In fact, an entirely different product was delivered, one of which has altered the course of their lives forever. It isn’t like they ordered a hammock from Amazon and received a lounge chair instead. They were given the DNA for an entirely different human than what they requested.
Second, as much as we’d like to say we live in a post-racial world, we don’t. Cramblett and Zinkon have openly recognized the difficulties associated with being a transracial family in the less-than-tolerant area they live, and are willing to move for the betterment of Payton. They specifically chose a white donor because they didn’t want to deal with the “racially intolerant” people in their community, and they fully admitted to being culturally unprepared to raise a child of a race other than their own. Their lives are on a drastically different course than what would have evolved had they received the sperm of Donor 380 as they should have.
It isn’t like they accidentally adopted a transracial baby and then sent the baby back; Cramblett was “accidentally” impregnated with one. I commend her for not aborting once she found out — others probably would have. Hopefully a hefty settlement will encourage Midwest Sperm Bank to do a better job of checking numbers in the future, so this doesn’t happen to another family.
Theresa Edwards: Mom’s actions will hurt her daughter in the long run
The reasons she lists for seeking unspecified punitive damages are paper thin and left me pretty slack-jawed; among them is the fact that Jennifer’s (racist) extended family won’t accept her biracial daughter, and that she has to go to a part of town with an African-American population to get her 2-year-old daughter’s hair cut, which she claims makes her feel “uncomfortable” and “unwelcome.”
The sperm bank handled the situation poorly, but Cramblett is handling it worse. If her child had been born white, but with a birth defect, would she still be suing? What if the bank had mixed up two white men’s vials? She doesn’t give me that impression. Instead, she comes off as a woman whose joy at an impending pregnancy turned to “disappointment” because the child she was pregnant with was biracial.
Should the sperm bank be punished? Oh yes. But Cramblett’s daughter shouldn’t be, and that’s exactly what her mother’s actions in this case will feel like to her when she becomes older.