White Lesbian Couple Starts Family, Comes With Unwanted Blackness

Wrongful birth and breach of warranty — that’s what Jennifer Cramblett, a white lesbian mom from Ohio, is suing the Mid-West Sperm bank for. I’m not a lawyer but something about those two terms felt weird. Here’s how Wikipedia defines wrongful birth and U.S. Legal defines breach of warranty:

Wrongful birth is a legal cause of action in some common law countries in which the parents of a congenitally diseased child claim that their doctor failed to properly warn of their risk of conceiving or giving birth to a child with serious genetic or congenital abnormalities.

Breach of Warranty involves a broken promise about a product made by either a manufacturer or a seller. The term also covers a failure of a statement or agreement by a seller of property which is a part of the contract of sale, when the truth of the statement is necessary to the validity of the contract.


Okay, so let’s take a step back. What got Cramblett and her partner, Amanda Winkon, in court in the first place? The two women decided to start a family in 2011. To do this, they chose to begin their insemination with the Mid-West Sperm Bank. Cramblett and Winkon are both white, and they chose white sperm donor number 380. After a few attempts, Cramblett became pregnant. The couple decided to order more of the same sperm — number 380 — so that Amanda could become pregnant next and their children would be biologically related. When they called to order more sperm, they were told that they’d been given sperm number 330. In response, Cramblett told the sperm bank that they wanted and needed number 380. According to statements from their lawsuit, Cramblett was kept on hold for a very long time and the following exchange occurred:

When the receptionist returned for the second time, she asked Jennifer if she had requested an African-American donor to which she replied, “No, why would I request that? My partner and I are Caucasian.”

About an hour later, Dr. Spirtos called Jennifer to confirm the mistake… Jennifer was crying, confused, and upset. All of the thought, care and planning that she and Amanda had undertaken to control their baby’s parentage had been rendered meaningless. In an instant, Jennifer’s excitement and anticipation of her pregnancy was replaced with anger, disappointment, and fear.

Anger. Disappointment. Fear. All because instead of having an all-Caucasian, 100% white baby girl, Cramblett and Winkon would be having a mixed-race baby. And they did! They had a beautiful, healthy baby girl named Payton. Payton is two years old and according to reports she is “obviously mixed-race” which is newspaper-speak for “Payton has darker skin than her biological mom, Jennifer.” Payton doesn’t have a congenital disease so my understanding is that Cramblett is suing the Mid-West Sperm Bank because she has a half-Black and half-White baby girl. Like, am I crazy?

After reading a little more about wrongful birth, I’m sure I’m not. For Cramblett to win her wrongful birth suit, she needs to prove four elements:

  1. The existence of a patient-doctor relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff;
  2. The doctor negligently failed to disclose to the prospective parents the risk of having a child with a genetic or congenital disease;
  3. The plaintiff suffered harm; and
  4. The doctor’s negligence caused that harm.

So let’s take stock: Existence of a patient-doctor relationship? Sure, but that’s about it.

At what point was there any risk of having a child with a genetic or congenital disease? The following is a list of congenital disorders that start with the letter B: Bannayan-Zonana syndrome, Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Barth syndrome, Basal Cell Nevus syndrome, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Benjamin syndrome, Bladder exstrophy, Bloom syndrome, and Bruton’s Agammaglubulinemia. As you can see, Blackness isn’t one of them.

And how about harm? This complaint is filled with all the ways in which Cramblett has experienced what she considers harm but what lots of us know better as racially-motivated microaggressions — things that Cramblett has never really had to deal with or even know about before now. I’ll being using the term Blackness multiple times to make up for the number of times it isn’t mentioned in the complaint — which you really should read. It’s fascinating: Cramblett claims that she was raised around people who hold stereotypical attitudes towards persons of color. Stereotypical attitudes? You mean, like you were raised by racists? Cramblett goes on to say that she didn’t know any Black people in real life until she went to college. She claims to have asked the receptionist at the sperm bank, “Why would I want [an African-American donor]. My partner and I are Caucasian?” which indicates some level of belief that there’s no way a white mother would want a Black donor.

Because of her racist and alleged whites-only upbringing, Cramblett claims not to have been properly equipped to raise a mixed-race baby. Also it’s apparently really really hard to do Black hair, y’all, because getting Payton’s hair done is listed as one of the ways Cramblett has suffered. Cramblett has to drive into a black neighborhood to get Payton’s hair done because the white salons won’t touch her hair. And, Cramblett feels really scared to be in those black neighborhoods.

Ok, so Cramblett and Winkon are worried that Payton will face stigma and hardships due to “the circumstances of her birth.” They also make it a point to stress that Payton and Cramblett have indeed bonded to quash any ideas that this white lady might not be treating her mixed-race, half Black baby girl with love ‘cuz God-forbid we take a minute to recognize that she might very well have some racist feelings to examine.

Yes, I’m judging the hell out of this entire situation. First, all of this veiled racism is bullshit. Stereotypical attitudes? Circumstances of birth? Wrongful birth? Breach of Warranty? This is about racism and anti-Blackness. We don’t need to avoid those phrases; we need to use them. This is about a white lesbian who was totally fine with her racist relatives and the lack of Black people in her life until she birthed a half-Black baby girl. This is how you can be a white lesbian and not be an ally.

Cramblett’s therapist has suggested that they move out of their racist-ass neighborhood and into someplace a little more diverse and maybe far away from their Uncle (who makes a cameo in the complaint) who says racists things about Black people. In an interview with CNN, Cramblett stated, “I want my child to be raised around people that maybe look like her, and unfortunately, we are not going to get all of those assets there in Uniontown, Ohio. We want her to grow up in a community where she feels accepted, feels like it’s normal to be who she is.” Her lawyers claim that this lawsuit is an effort to drum up much needed funds to relocate out of Uniontown, OH — population 98% white. They’re suing for compensatory damages of upwards of $50,000.

Can we also talk about that for just a second? The root cause of the problem isn’t that a white woman was given the sperm of a Black man or that the child was born half-Black; it’s that Uniontown, OH is allegedly creating a hostile environment for this family and their child. Isn’t there something abhorrent and criminal about the fact that a predominantly white community is facing no consequence for its racism and bigotry? We’re all just like “well, you know, that’s how it is when you have a mixed-baby. White people are gonna be mean.” If that’s true and these “stereotypical attitudes” are reason enough for Cramblett and family to leave and be compensated to do. Can we all get $50,000?

But by suing the sperm-bank for wrongful birth and breach of warranty, these women are saying “my child was a mistake.” If they really believe that they’ve been wronged and need the money to move, why not sue for malpractice? Cramblett ordered one man’s sperm — number 380 — and she should have gotten that exact sperm. She put something inside of her body under the impression that she knew what it was. She had no information on this other donor and his genetic history could have contained all sorts of things that Cramblett and Winkon didn’t want for their child. There’s no way around the MAJOR fuck up that occurred at the Mid-West Sperm Bank and I’m all for suing the fuck out of this place for misreading someone’s sloppy handwriting – the real reason for this whole mix-up.

Having a baby seems scary and beautiful. I don’t doubt that Cramblett and Winkon love their baby. I also don’t doubt for a second that this situation is very far from the life they imagined and planned to have together. I can see how they’ve experienced some shock after discovering the mix-up. But what has actually happened is that they’ve been gifted with a beautiful child. I’m curious to know what the harm is in that? I’m curious to know how she is the wrongful birth, how the DNA used to create her was a breach of warranty. Framing the lawsuit in these terms provides a shield for the super toxic race issues at issues here. No one is being real about the fact that Payton’s Blackness is a problem for almost everyone involved in her life.  Despite what anyone says, the real hook of this story is that Cramblett is white and she’s been given a Black child.

Cramblett is every white person that’s ever been afraid of having a Black baby and didn’t know it. But even with all the instances of racism around her and in her lawsuit, I don’t think Cramblett has any honest idea that she is racist. Most white people that are don’t have a clue. This would be such a good moment for her to slow down and reevaluate what kind of lawsuit they want to go through with. Do they really want to win a wrongful birth and breach of warranty suit? If they do – and honestly, even if they don’t – they’ll be part of the societal, emotional and often physical violence that many Black women and girls face on a daily basis. Payton is two years old and she’s already the target of emotional violence. If the court rules in favor of Cramblett, they’ll be linking Blackness with a disorder, as a disease that people need to be warned about, a defect that can be sued over. And that is racist, unacceptable and an act of aggression against the Black community in the United States.

In the end, this is an issue of reproductive and racial injustice. What Cramblett and Winkon are experiencing is just a tiny taste of what many Black people and other people of color have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s Cramblett and Winkon’s job as parents to be allies for their child.  They can only do that by calling out the abhorrent behavior of the people in their family and their community who are perpetuating racism and making their lives so difficult. This is how they can make sure that their daughter, Payton, will grow up knowing that she is loved and valued.

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Gabrielle Rivera is an awesomely queer Bronx bred, writer, spoken word artist and director. Her short stories and poems have been published in various anthologies such as the Lambda Award winning Portland Queer: Tales from the Rose City and The Best of Panic! En Vivo from the East Village. Her short film "Spanish Girls are Beautiful" follows a group of young Latina and Caucasian girls who like girls as they hook up, smoke up and try to figure sh*t out. She also freelances for Autostraddle.com while working in the film and television industry. Gabrielle is currently working on her first novel while bouncing around NYC performing spoken word and trying to stick it to the man.

gabby has written 102 articles for us.


  1. I would like some compensation for being born to a white mum who has zero ideas about how to raise a Black daughter. Just sayin.

  2. I am so glad Autostraddle picked this story up. I was having a lot of conflicting feelings about it because on one hand, I know that its psychologically damaging for young children of color to grow up in all-white communities and I almost want to applaud the parents for “acknowledging their lack of cultural competency” (because isn’t that what we are always trying to get white people to do?) and wanting to move to a more diverse area.
    But on the other hand, when I was discussing this with someone the other day, I said “it almost seems more appropriate that they sue the city for not providing a safe place to raise their kid” but that’s obviously very impractical.

    And I hadn’t even considered the weight of WHAT exactly they were suing FOR (wrongful birth vs malpractice) having a part in this, probably due to my lack of legal knowledge.

    Also- ” If that’s true and these “stereotypical attitudes” are reason enough…. to be compensate…. Can we all get $50,000?”
    Yes tho like you ACTUALLY should in the form of reparations

    • after consulting my law school graduate sister, who seems less sympathetic than I am, she says the actual terms theyre suing for are probably picked on the basis of what would hold up in court the best based on precedent- not what is necessarily “correct”

  3. I can’t even express how revolting this is, the idea that this child, a child, that their very existance is a crime against hese women, all on the basis of her color. It… it is repugnant in a way that I can never express. It is an inexcusable idea. And a grim reminder that membership to one marginalized class or minority group does not by any means automatically make you an ally to any other.

    • The choice to sue for wrongful birth is a legal strategy, most likely selected by the women’s attorney to give her the best chance of success in court.

      Is the whole concept of “wrongful birth” problematic? Yes, of course. Especially when applied to the birth of a child of color, which is not at all the situation this cause of action was intended for. This case doesn’t fit the typical critera for wrongful birth (presence of a genetic disease and the doctor’s failure to diagnose the disease when they should have). However, every jurisdiction has different rules and I’m assuming that this women’s attorney has reason to think it’s the strongest cause of action available.

      The American legal system is racist, classist, and otherwise oppressive in a variety of ways, and talking about this is extremely important. However, when you need to sue someone you are forced to deal with the legal system as it currently stands. It suing for wrongful birth is this women’s best chance to give her daughter a better life, then I don’t see it as “revolting” to do so. It’s just unfortunate that she didn’t have a better option.

      • Excellent comment. It’s amazing how often we get high level exchange of ideas around here with people making thoughtful and eloquent points.
        Autostraddle has the best comment session of the internet, heads and shoulders above the rest.

        • Yes! This site is one of the few places that starts what conversations need to get started, and sustains healthy discourse all throughout.

  4. Isn’t there something abhorrent and criminal about the fact that a predominantly white community is facing no consequence for its racism and bigotry? We’re all just like “well, you know, that’s how it is when you have a mixed-baby. White people are gonna be mean.” If that’s true and these “stereotypical attitudes” are reason enough for Cramblett and family to leave and be compensated to do. Can we all get $50,000?

    YES. Thank you for putting into words what bothered me so much about this situation. I agree with you that malpractice seems a lot more appropriate than claiming that their mixed race child is “defective.” I want the parents to get compensation for the lab’s negligence, but the way they’re going after it is beyond fucked up.

  5. So I absolutely understand the racism in all of this, but the parents do have the right to be angry; they were not provided with what they had asked for. Granted, the race of your baby shouldn’t matter when it comes to caring for and loving them, but the “breach of warranty” part of the lawsuit makes perfectly good sense.

    • If you read the entire article your comment is addressed in the following paragraph:

      “But by suing the sperm-bank for wrongful birth and breach of warranty, these women are saying “my child was a mistake.” If they really believe that they’ve been wronged and need the money to move, why not sue for malpractice? Cramblett ordered one man’s sperm — number 380 — and she should have gotten that exact sperm. She put something inside of her body under the impression that she knew what it was. She had no information on this other donor and his genetic history could have contained all sorts of things that Cramblett and Winkon didn’t want for their child. There’s no way around the MAJOR fuck up that occurred at the Mid-West Sperm Bank and I’m all for suing the fuck out of this place for misreading someone’s sloppy handwriting – the real reason for this whole mix-up.”

      So I am not sure why you felt the need to make the same comment, again.

      Well, I’m fairly sure I know why you felt that need, actually.

      • Yeah, I didn’t read the whole thing. My comment was definitely addressed there, you’re right.

        It’s obvious that racism is at play here, though, and I think the parents should have looked at more of the long-term implications of their decision to sue.

  6. What kills me is that this is so public, SO BIG right now that this child will read about this. This baby will be 14 years old, google her name, and find out that her mothers sued the sperm bank for WRONGFUL BIRTH????? Like, she’s gonna find out that her mothers thought (and let’s be real, probably still will because this is straight up racist bullshit like you pointed out so clearly Gabby) that there was something wrong with her. I feel so bad for this baby. And like, I hate how the mom’s defending the town/her family for being racist…if she had a white kid, would she still be aware of how racist it is? Would she care that her parents are racist? It’s like, “but they’re good peopleeeeee they didn’t expect to have to treat a black person with respect and why should they have had to???” ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ughhhhhhhhh

    • I totally agree. That was my first thought (maybe because I’m adopted myself). How is that poor child going to feel when she’s old enough to read about this?

    • She won’t have to Google her name; by the time she can read, the rest of her classmates can read too and their parents may know a thing or two about this girl — who knows? HRRRUUGH, this beautiful girl stuck with the WORST parents.

  7. I’m really annoyed at the way this story is being spun in various media.

    If this were a straight, hetero couple who received the sperm (or egg) of another couple who were using this clinic – people would be outraged and freaked out. Media would be calling for reviews and regulations. There would be acknowledgement of the difficulties that lie ahead for the families.

    But because this is a lesbian couple, apparently this was “meant to be” on some spiritual level (sarcasm) and they’re ungrateful racists.

    No. This wasn’t meant to be, this was human error – in a business where you cannot have human errors. Multiple checks and balances should happen along the way to prevent human error from happening.

    As someone who is going through fertility treatment, this is the kind of thing that scares the hell out of a woman. It’s bad enough having to choose the DNA of a stranger to be implanted in one’s body. We rely on these clinics to have our wishes adhered to and for them to get the details right.

    Where I live is extremely regimented with rules and regulations around fertility procedures. Maybe the US needs more regulation?

    • I agree with this so much. What if it was a straight white couple who was discreetly dealing with infertility? A mixed race child would require explanation and conversation about parts of their life that should, in all fairness, be a private discussion between a couple. If a white male fathered a mixed-race child because of an error at the sperm bank, people would be more sympathetic. Why? Because due to the sexual orientation of the couple, one would ASSUME a child born into the family would genetically resemble both parents?? But… I guess… lesbians aren’t owed that?!? I feel like there’s a lot of “Well, they’re lesbians and they would need a sperm donor anyway. They got a healthy beautiful baby out of the mix. UNGRATEFUL RACISTS.”

      • Just saying, the fact that a straight white man has visibly not ‘fathered’ (in the most base sense) his child is seen as a source of embarassment, shame, or loss of masculinity is the byproduct of a shitton of sexism.

        Why should it be a big deal if your children don’t look plausible as biological descendants? That notion should be gone, not used as an excuse.

        • I’m not excusing that or saying it’s okay and I am fully aware of how problematic that is. I’m just saying that if we were looking at a straight couple instead of a lesbian couple, people would be more sympathetic to the parents and would be outraged on their behalf, instead of just calling the parents horrible racists.

    • I don’t see anyone here saying that this was “meant to be.” The article actually said:

      There’s no way around the MAJOR fuck up that occurred at the Mid-West Sperm Bank and I’m all for suing the fuck out of this place for misreading someone’s sloppy handwriting – the real reason for this whole mix-up.

      There was a serious mistake at the lab and there was a lot of racism in this situation. I personally feel totally fine and good about our community prioritizing a conversation about racism. I don’t think that happens often enough in the (straight, hetero) mainstream.

  8. There are some other interviews out there that get past the race baiting headlines including showing her with her daughter whom she obviously adores. The women were clearly pretty oblivious to the racism in their community, but they’re getting a big lesson in it now and are just trying to get funds to get somewhere their kid can have a better life.

  9. This is such a disappointing article. I was waiting for Autostraddle to cover this because I was waiting for a piece that would be thoughtful about the parts of this story that are innately queer. Getting sperm from a sperm bank is not a gift that you should be grateful for no matter what. You pay a huge amount of money, you sign many contracts and waivers, and you put that biological material from someone else into your body. There is nothing more important about that process than actually receiving the sperm you are informed you are receiving. The fact that you end up with a healthy, happy child does not excuse the negligence.

    To insinuate that this woman is somehow a bad person for choosing sperm that would resemble her partner is upsetting. Talk to nearly every couple who has used a sperm bank – I guarantee you almost all of them have chosen a sperm donor that, based on the information provided by the sperm bank, resembles their partner. This is because they wish they could be having a biological child with their partner, but they can’t for some reason. Often the reason is that they are both women.

    Additionally, citing to Wikipedia for an understanding of the legal claims being brought here is irresponsible. I am a lawyer, and I would never try to explain or present an understanding of legal claims outside of my particular field of expertise based on what I read on Wikipedia, or what I found when I googled the terms. Perhaps if you were able to actually learn about this area of law, what you would find is that there are no legal claims available that accurately describe or take into account the experience of queer people having children together. Perhaps you would find that a wrongful birth claim is the best way to fit these particular experiences into a recognized legal framework. Perhaps you would find that doing this is a strategy for forcing the legal world to recognize the experiences of queer people.

    Civil lawsuits require that litigants quantify their damages. “Damages” is a legal term with a distinct legal meaning. Quantifying damages requires a kind of bluntness that makes people uncomfortable. I understand that. This should be a story about queer reproductive justice, but it is easier to digest as a story about a dumb, racist lady in Ohio. Unfortunately, that take is reactive and shortsighted.

    • I agree, I was surprised that the discussion was so one-note and painted the mothers as horrible people. Donor sperm is chosen very carefully and family history, medical history and other things (yes, including resemblance to the parents) are all taken into consideration. To be given the wrong sperm after all that, I would feel betrayed and wanting to sue as well. Plus, I think it’s somewhat admirable that the mother is acknowledging her unpreparedness and ignorance in how to raise a mixed race baby. Maybe we’re over-demonizing the parents, here.

    • It’s totally addressed though – suing for malpractice would be an entirely different matter, as stated in the article. That is NOT THE PATH THEY TOOK.

      • You are very hung up on the idea of malpractice. Have you ever ordered sperm? It’s not like establishing care somewhere. You don’t meet a doctor. They know absolutely zero about your medical history or you. YOU decide the donor based on the criteria you want. YOU sign consent forms and forms acknowledging that your child may be special needs or ill or whatever and you take those risks. YOU release them from responsibility should your child be special needs. They, in turn, take the vials you carefully chose and mail them to your house and your doctor. THEY are not a medical provider, they are a business. Their end of the bargain is sending you the vials that you picked out, possibly even with the help of a medical provider. They aren’t doing you a medical service, they are selling you a product. In this case, they made an error and sent the wrong product. They need to be held responsible for that and no, it isn’t medical malpractice.

    • “Additionally, citing to Wikipedia for an understanding of the legal claims being brought here is irresponsible. I am a lawyer, and I would never try to explain or present an understanding of legal claims outside of my particular field of expertise based on what I read on Wikipedia, or what I found when I googled the terms. Perhaps if you were able to actually learn about this area of law, what you would find is that there are no legal claims available that accurately describe or take into account the experience of queer people having children together. Perhaps you would find that a wrongful birth claim is the best way to fit these particular experiences into a recognized legal framework. Perhaps you would find that doing this is a strategy for forcing the legal world to recognize the experiences of queer people.”

      i wish i could learn more about this area of the law. i put the fact that i used wikipedia and internet research up front. to say out loud that i’m not a lawyer, i’m a regular person curious about the terms used in the lawsuit. i then conferred with friends who are studying the law and learning about this area in particular to see what else I could add or if I was misreading anything, still this doesn’t make me a lawyer. so yeah, i wish i could learn more about it too. and for real, if you know of any online places that provide free information about the law to people who aren’t law students, please leave links here.

      And re “there are no legal claims available that accurately describe or take into account the experience of queer people having children together.”

      that’s very true, painfully true, and what I really wish is that these Moms were saying that too. My piece is a response to their lawsuit. I only responded to what they’ve actually put out into the world as reasons for suing the sperm bank in the first place. perhaps that isn’t clear enough in the piece. what a different story this would be entirely if their lawsuit didn’t frame itself around the discomfort of having a mixed-race child.

      • I appreciate you responding to my comment.

        I completely understand that you are not a lawyer and you do not have the background relevant to every issue you might want to write about. That said, this is a piece that is entirely about a legal complaint filed in civil court. That, along with an interview given by one of the mothers about the complaint, is the whole story. Everything else is conjecture. Given that, I do think it is irresponsible to write about this particular piece of news without at least a basic understanding of the legal aspect. For example, you suggest that these parents had the option to sue for medical malpractice, and insinuate that they chose to file this racist lawsuit instead. If in fact a medical malpractice suit is not applicable under these circumstances (which I think is true, but cannot say for sure because I do not practice law in Ohio), then you have set up a false dichotomy that really colors the overall impact of your article.

        Obviously the damages portion of this lawsuit is explicitly about race and racism. I do think there might be some value in exploring how and why a white couple might feel unprepared or concerned about parenting a mixed-race child without belittling their experience and their concerns for their child. In parts of your piece you seem to agree that this couple should move out of the town they live in (which their complaint states they wish to do), and at the same time you are saying that they are stupid and racist for not moving out of the town? And then you suggest that somehow the racist community they live in should be the target of their suit, instead of the sperm bank. If your argument is that the systemic and persistent racism in many parts of America is a huge problem, and that the existence of this lawsuit is just more evidence of that fact, I would be with you 100%. Instead this reads as a personal and aggressive attack on these two women individually.

        • The thing is, though, like malpractice, wrongful birth also requires a relationship between a patient and a doctor. That element of the cause of action confused me because I imagined a sperm bank relationship being like you described: doctor-free. That’s not a false dichotomy: that’s taking the allegations and seeing what else can be done. Why not sue for negligence? Why not sure for anything other than “wrongful birth” – a name that suggests that their daughter was a mistake? I don’t think this author vilifies the mothers; it think it investigates their actions. Sounds to me like the lawyer’s trying to fulfill his legal duty to his client without considering the broader consequences on the community.

    • The article does not say the mother is a “a bad person for choosing sperm that would resemble her partner”.

      The author is commenting specifically on this statement: ““Why would I want [an African-American donor]. My partner and I are Caucasian?” to which she comments, “which indicates some level of belief that there’s no way a white mother would want a Black donor.”

      She’s not commenting on the mother’s personal sperm donor choice. She’s commenting on the logic of ~we’re white, so having a Black donor doesn’t make any sense to me~.

      Also. For every story that can be reported on there are multiple angles available. So yes, this could have been an article with thorough legal research that focused primarily on the case parameters. Your critique sounds like you just don’t like the angle. What’s wrong with a focus on the implicit racism surrounding the issue?

      • Because it doesn’t tell the whole story, and when you choose to cover news and politics and don’t frame stories as opinion columns, you have the responsibility to share those angles. Not everyone does this, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Maybe that’s just me being wistful for a little editorial integrity, but I feel that as a group who is frequently the victim of a lopsided media, we owe it to ourselves to demonstrate changes that we NEED to see.

        • This, kind of. The article alleges the following things:

          1. “The parents hold unexamined racist views.” Very likely true, assuming the statements they’ve made to the press are accurate.

          2. “Their community is racist, and it sucks that no one can hold them accountable for that.” Also very true.

          3. “The sperm bank screwed up.” I don’t think there’s any disagreement from any quarter on that.

          4. “The structure/allegations of the suit mean or imply certain things about how the parents view their child.” I disagree. See my earlier comment, and the comments of others. Until we’ve ruled out legal convenience, that is not reasonable to assume.

          We (and I say we because this applies to all of us on this planet, not just the author of one article) have the responsibility, the same as anyone, to understand the situation to the fullest extent possible before forming and publicizing an opinion or jumping to a conclusion. This may include consulting experts. We don’t get a pass on factual inaccuracy, misunderstanding how something specialized works, or perpetuating misinterpretations (even if it’s accidental) just because we’re doing it for a good cause. Not even there are other parts of the argument that are fine.

          This is a high standard, one that most news outlets (and people in general) don’t even ever try to meet. But this is the standard of rigor we would want if it were other people talking about us, so this is the standard we should aim for ourselves- even when it may mean we temporarily have less ammunition with which to pursue our worthy causes, or there’s a fact-checking delay before the opinion can be formed. Bad ammunition is worse than no ammunition at all.

        • To be fair, I think this angle, this lens of race is a necessary one for a writer at Autostraddle should be taking. It is possible for another kind of a article to comment on the queer reproductive justice issue here but to do so without even touching upon the implications of deeply embedded racist attitudes held not only by the mothers but also those in their community is an incomplete article. Talking about Blackness is a topic that does matter for the simple reason that people who aren’t Black seem to never want to talk about it.
          I had strong feelings about this once I read a few facts surrounding this lawsuit because the practicalities of what happens if they were to win were so obvious to me — where do you move to when your town is too racist? WHERE? If I’d known I could do that, I wouldn’t even wait for the $50,000 for relocation when I lived in Florida (a city where some people still used the word “colored” and I was called chink and other slurs).

    • I am also a lawyer, and this article actually reflected very accurately the discussion of wrongful birth that occurred in my torts class. We spent a lot of time on the harmful aspects of such a claim, and I think this article is an intelligent parsing of the issues involved in essentially declaring that your child is a mistake. And not a mistake in the sense of an accidental conception, but a mistake in existing. These parents are telling their child that she was made wrong, and I really appreciate that the article highlighted how complicated it is that wrongful birth even exists as an available claim.

      Also, while malpractice is probably not an available path to take, as you point out in another comment, breach of contract certainly should be. There’s no (non-racist) reason to add wrongful birth to the breach of warranty claim they are also alleging. I absolutely agree that they should be suing the sperm bank like crazy for messing up its most basic and essential task, but I do not agree that this is the only, necessary, or best way to do it.

    • I second this, thank you so much for stating so eloquently the thoughts roiling around in my brain. I was expecting AS to present a nuanced look into the issues of the case, sperm donation for lesbians, and issues of trans-racial parenting. I really don’t like this depiction of the mothers as racist.

      My fiancée and I have been thinking about using sperm from a bank to conceive, and I honestly don’t know what we’d do if we were in the positions of these mothers. Neither of us have any experience being black or biracial; how could we hope to help her with race-related issues we’ve never experienced?

      I usually love Autostraddle, but this article is really making me re-think that.

    • This is a good point. Also its relevant to add that ‘wrongful birth’ is a heading of tort – this couple didn’t invent it, its just a bad name. There was a case in the UK where a lady had her tubes tied and then the doctor did it wrong and she had another baby – she wanted to sue for the costs of raising the child (the court disallowed it because they couldn’t say a healthy child was ‘damage’ in the legal meaning of damage). Wrongful birth cases usually centre around babies with detectable severe abnormalities that aren’t caught and then the baby is born and the couple were never given the option of termination and now they have to pay for the childs care somehow.

      Its not nice – but it is an established body of law.

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. Now I don’t have to rack my brain for how much was off-base with this article.

  10. I’d forgot to add…

    Laws around the world are not written to cover anything like this. The legal system is playing catch-up when it comes to fertility treatment and other “modern world” issues.

    Whatever they sue for is inevitably going to sound extremely offensive, given that there is an innocent involved and the legal system is mostly archaic.

  11. So my first thought on reading about the ‘mix up’ at the sperm bank was that they had some valid reasons to be angry – people spend weeks going through profiles and medical histories, and finding out that you have no idea whose DNA you’re carrying must be really distressing in that moment.

    Everything below that made me realise that my first instinct was to ‘excuse’ their awful behaviour, and I’m glad AS keeps running really insightful articles that make me aware of these things.

    Sperm bank mix up: bad. Lawsuit that testifies that your child is a mistake you need compensation for, and that attitude that’s a perfectly ok thing to do: f*cked.

    • Exactly, and it’s super shocking that so many comments in this thread are STILL standing by that first response.

      • Kathryn, it’s just a discussion. People are going to have varying opinions. Ideally, we would all be able to have enough compassion and awareness to empathize with both sides of the argument–there’s no way for us to understand exactly why the lawsuit looks the way it does.

        • I can empathize with the couple around the fact that the sperm bank fucked up, but I try not to empathize with racism.

  12. I am surprised at the position this website is taking about this story. I fully support the couple taking legal action and it has nothing to do with the skin color of the wrong donor — it has to do with the fact that they were sent sperm from THE WRONG DONOR. I would imagine they would sue even if the wrong donor was white. It is appalling. From everything that I have read, this child is loved and wanted to by them — it isn’t about that.

    These women lost control over starting the family they wanted. Maybe some of you here have never have the experience of looking through a donor list, never had the experience of looking for traits that reflect who your partner is and what your dream for your future family is. People select a donor based on hair color, medical history, shape and color of eyes, ethnic background, body size, teeth, etc. Not only that but there is viral status to consider, whether or not the blood is negative or positive, whether the donor wants to be anonymous or open, whether they’ve had a past pregnancy or not, whether the sperm is washed or unwashed… those are big choices to make, some of which impact the health and safety of the birth mother as well as the resulting child. To research this together and decide on a donor as a couple and take these steps to start a family together, only to have that control ripped out of your hands because of a clerical error? That was negligent on behalf on the sperm bank. They are suing because they were sent the wrong sperm and they want to prevent that from happening to another couple which I, for one, support and appreciate.

    Making it about a white couple ending up with a black baby is what gets people talking. How viral do you think this story would be if they ended up with the “wrong” white baby? I’m disappointed that a group of queer women couldn’t see what this is really about. If this happened to me, 100% regardless of the color of the skin of the baby we ended up with, I would take the same legal action that they did. When lesbians want kids, we can’t just head to the bedroom. It takes months of research and charting and planning and decisions and lots and lots of money. Choosing a donor is such an important step — it is responsible for half of your child’s genetic make-up. Straight people pick romantic partners for subconscious scientific, reproduction and fertility-based reasons. They get to make a choice who to start a family with, who to create offspring with. Shouldn’t lesbians be given that same opportunity??

    As for how they are suing and under what terms, from what I have read before about similar lawsuits, it is not considered medical malpractice — the sperm bank is selling a product and you have to prove that the product you ended up with is not the product you thought you were purchasing or what was advertised. It has been done in other cases before. To get donor sperm, you have to sign so many contracts and so many consent forms and when they send it directly to you or even to a doctor’s office, they are putting so much of the medical aspect on you and taking it off themselves. You sign all of these releases saying that you know the risks, that you might end up with a baby that is sick or disabled or disfigured or whatever. I would imagine suing for medical malpractice after all of that is said and done wouldn’t be very effective. Instead, they have to look at it like a business that sells a product and go after it that way. Listing how this mix-up “negatively” impacts their life is how they are making their case that the sperm bank should be held responsible for sending them the wrong “product” and giving them what they did not ask for.

    For the author to say, now you know how black people in small towns feel really, really misses the point. I don’t think any of us could imagine how this feels. The control over who to biologically create a child with was ripped away from this women. What if this was an infertile straight white couple? Or what if it was a white couple who got donor sperm for insemination instead of the husband’s? This was a gross error on the part of the sperm bank. Like holy shit a big huge fuck up.

    • As discussed in the article, they are NOT suing for medical malpractice. They are SPECIFICALLY suing because of the racial element. THEY made that the focus of the suit.

      • Yes, I know. I don’t think they even could sue for medical malpractice. They would have to go after this from another angle, which is what they are doing.

    • “These women lost control over starting the family they wanted. Maybe some of you here have never have the experience of looking through a donor list, never had the experience of looking for traits that reflect who your partner is and what your dream for your future family is. People select a donor based on hair color, medical history, shape and color of eyes, ethnic background, body size, teeth, etc. Not only that but there is viral status to consider, whether or not the blood is negative or positive, whether the donor wants to be anonymous or open, whether they’ve had a past pregnancy or not, whether the sperm is washed or unwashed… those are big choices to make, some of which impact the health and safety of the birth mother as well as the resulting child. To research this together and decide on a donor as a couple and take these steps to start a family together, only to have that control ripped out of your hands because of a clerical error? That was negligent on behalf on the sperm bank. They are suing because they were sent the wrong sperm and they want to prevent that from happening to another couple which I, for one, support and appreciate.”

      this is such a thoughtful and spot on comment. i agree with you 100% about all of it. And maybe I sound like a broken record but I wish that these were the elements listed in their lawsuit for reasons to sue the sperm bank. These are the reasons that elevate their lawsuit beyond race and make it about power and the right to create ones own family. these reasons make this whole story about how a company involved in something as serious as reproduction cannot allow their standards to falter in such a way that this type of clinical error occurs.

      But literally their lawsuit talks about racist uncles and the mom having to travel to get her child’s black hair done and it seemed really bizarre to me that those were the reasons behind the suit instead.

      • Thank you for responding to my comment in a thoughtful and engaging way. I do appreciate that.

        I don’t know why I am defending these people so much. I just… don’t think they are bad parents and I don’t think they resent their child. I think a mistake was made at the sperm bank and they are trying to get someone to take responsibility for that and compensate them for whatever reasons they come up with. Maybe they are just doing what their lawyer says, maybe they are a bit uneducated, maybe they grew up in a town that is 98% white people and so racism doesn’t exist to them. I don’t know their motives or their entire story. I am choosing to believe that they are suing because they were given the wrong donor sperm, period, and not because they have a black donor. Some of the statements or arguments they are making are problematic but they are involved in a legal battle and have to show how this has affected them… I don’t know.

        What I do know is my cousin (who is white) is the mother to five black children under the age of eight. She, along with her husband, has fought tooth and nail to have these children and legally make them theirs. They did research, they did gobs of paperwork, they spent more money than I could even imagine, they traveled around the world a number of times, and spent months stranded in Uganda while they were in a legal standstill with the justice systems there. Those children were wanted and fought for and prepared for. And yet, she complains about a lot of this same stuff. She worries about the safety of her children (especially her sons) as they grow, she has to deal with her racist in-laws who have disowned their family, she has to take her daughters to different salons or bring people into their home to do their hair because she doesn’t know how to do it, she worries about getting them into good schools where they won’t be judged because they are black and their parents are white, she deals with black women passing judgment and making comments to her in public because she is a white person raising black babies. She is a good parent, a fierce mama bear, and she has to deal with this stuff every day. We all admit racism is a thing. Acknowledging and even complaining that you have to deal with it as a white person with a black child isn’t enough to make you racist. It means you are acknowledging and complaining about a flawed system.

        I cannot image what it would be like to deal with this when it isn’t what you were expecting and fighting for. I understand that statement in and of itself is probably inherently racist but they are a queer couple who lives in a small white town in the Midwest. I’m pretty sure they were already kinda keeping their heads down, you know? Being white parents to a black child can be a lot to take on, especially when you weren’t expecting it. Acknowledging that racism exists and is stressful and scary and can make you need to change your entire life doesn’t take ANYTHING away from the fact that they have a beautiful, healthy baby that they seem to love very much. They are simply saying the the negligence of the sperm bank has brought negativity into their lives because they now have to deal with racism. Does this mean they are racist and privileged? I truthfully think it probably means they are just ignorant.

        As someone who grew up in a conservative Midwestern town with a white population of about 99.99%, I will tell you that in those areas, being sensitive to differences is not at the forefront of most people’s minds. Is that inherently racist? I don’t know. Can you judge someone for not being aware of something they don’t personally witness or have any knowledge of? I mean, I never really saw a black person until I went to college and roomed with one. Before that, I never really thought racism. i was one of those white people who thought “Well, slavery is over so it’s better than it was.” Privileged? Sure, you can call it that, but it certainly didn’t feel privileged. It felt… ignorant. I will tell you I was not racist in the least bit; I was simply ignorant and blind to what was going on in other parts of the world. When my world expanded, my mind expanded as well.

        Maybe this will make their world expand as well, but I still think the sperm bank needs to be held responsible for the mistake they made. I wouldn’t care if it was a white baby made with the wrong white sperm — I was still sue the shit out of them. That is gross gross negligence and truthfully, with everything that is considered when choosing a donor and everything that had the potential to go wrong, they are very lucky to have ended up with a healthy, beautiful baby. That doesn’t excuse the fact that the sperm bank royally screwed up and should be held responsible.

      • I can’t help but wonder how much of this is legal strategy, as well. They are bringing this lawsuit in the same small community where they are raising their daughter. If the potential future jurors come out of this community, then they may predictably be racially biased. It could very well be a chess match of setting up the facts in a way that will cause potential jurors to side with them. It will most likely never get to trial, but if the sperm bank sees they don’t have a chance, the settlement amount will likely be way higher. Attorneys will often “spin” their clients’ stories to sweeten the deal. It’s not that they are creating facts, but that they are phrasing them in a way favorable to their client. It’s SUPER messed up, but legal strategy can be more like playing a game than anything.

  13. I actually don’t think there is anything racist about his. You go to a sperm bank and you pick out a donor based on his health background and how that will be compatible with yours. You pick his race, because people often want to see their child reflect them. I don’t see why us gay people have to be any different. You get less stares, people assumes your family when you share ethnicity. I’m black and if I married a Chinese woman I would go with a Chinese donor. It’s a luxury I would take if I were using a donor and when paying for a service I expect for that service to be fulfilled.

    This is no way invalidates, in my opinion, adoption. Just like screening for potential genetic or health issues doesn’t make standard heterosexual unscreened procreation negative. It’s simply that there is an expectation that this is what you’re getting with this service.

    They planned their family to be a certain way and no one gets to tell them it has to be another way, let alone get on a high horse and tell them they don’t have a right to sue for receiving the wrong product. It could have been more serious than skin color and the sperm bank needs to be held accountable.

  14. I agree that if that’s the way it happened- the mothers had a choice of what grounds to pursue their lawsuit on, and they picked these- everything that this article says is spot on. But there’s another set of circumstances, that’s probably more likely. They’re not lawyers, and they may not have the educational background to understand the different types of options (heck, I probably don’t). they went to a lawyer to determine the strength of their case, and the lawyer, as an expert in the field and with lots of experience with what works and what doesn’t work to win money, told them that these were the grounds that were most likely to win them their case. We don’t even know if the lawyer explained the implications of those grounds to the family before the case started- some specialty professionals are better about that than others (how many of you have had a brisk doctor who doesn’t take the time to explain what your diagnosis means and just starts doing stuff? *raises hand*) In an ideal world, the law would be caught up and they’d be able to pursue grounds that more closely matched their situation. In an ideal world, they could sue the town for being hostile. In an ideal world, the lawyer would take the time to explain all their options and the implications in a way that the family could understand. And furthermore, it does sound like the mothers have a lot of learning still to do about race before they can be good allies to their daughter, and I think it’s appropriate to call them out for that. But I’m not sure it’s reasonable or fair to heap opprobrium on them for pursuing the specific legal grounds they did, given the way the law works in weird archaic roundabout ways and the likely scenario that they didn’t choose those grounds.

  15. As an egg donor, I totally understand why the couple would sue the clinic, and I think (as some commenters have mentioned above) that it’s important to think about this from the perspective of a couple going through IVF and the clinic fucking it up. HOWEVER, this is ALSO about race and racism, and I’m disappointed that some people are trying to neglect that part of the conversation. This is about reproductive justice, assisted reproductive technology, queer families, AND racism, and we should be able to have a nuanced conversation about all those things together.

  16. The comments this woman has made to the press in support of this lawsuit have been unambiguously racist, and the underlying argument of the lawsuit itself is unambiguously racist. And I think it’s heartbreaking to realize that someday Payton will be old enough to read the horrid comments that her own mother has made about her in public.

    • I agree, that’s the first thing I thought of (what will Payton think someday finding out about this?). Of course they love her, but the way they word a lot of this makes her and the situation surrounding her sound like a burden in their lives (at least that’s what I felt reading their comments)

  17. I’m no lawyer, but I think suing for malpractice would have caused the same stigma you are talking about with this lawsuit. She would have had to prove that she was injured by medical negligence. So which is worse, sending your daughter the message that she’s a wrongful birth or that she’s a medical injury?

  18. OMG! Commenters have this so right. The right of a woman to choose the genetic makeup of her offspring is one of the most basic human rights. And, yes, even racist asshats get those rights. Also, $50K??? Should be $1M+. This is some serious shit.

  19. I think this family has a right to be angry about getting the wrong sperm. I fit were me, I would start questioning the practices of the agency and worry about whether the sperm is screened appropriately, etc. Because I am neurotic. What I feel is missing from all the coverage is this: is Uniontown really that cool with lesbian families? Uniontown is “bigotted,” and “racist,” and so is the one of the mom’s families, but they all passed on the homophobia? My guess is it is going to be even more complicated and confusing for their kids when they have to defend their same-sex, yet racist moms.

  20. I was having so many strong feelings about this that I was having trouble articulating. Thank you for writing this. You said it all, and you said it PERFECTLY.

  21. Let’s call a spade a spade here people. Straight couples who have children have the option of deciding who they want to have a baby with every single day. They make decisions about partners based on future children. Do they all? Maybe not. But many do. And that is OK, because here’s a phrase we don’t give enough importance to in Texas, IT IS THEIR BODY, SO IT IS THEIR CHOICE.
    And at the end of the day, this is about a woman’s right to choose her baby’s biological father. At no point has she said she loves her child less. If this was about blatant racism like the very qualified writer of this article suggested, this would be a case of abandonment. The parents would not be spending thousands of dollars in legal fees to sue a negligent clinic if they just ‘didn’t want black sperm’. Her desire for her baby to resemble her partner, while completely valid, is a non-issue here. This is a woman who was betrayed by people she should have been able to trust. The betrayal is not the result. It is obvious that she loves her baby. But when it came to her reproductive rights, she was raked through the coals by a firm that obviously could care less. This woman had a right to choose the sperm that was put into her body. Regardless of her reasons for choosing a specific sperm, she made a decision that was HER RIGHT TO MAKE. NOT her doctor’s right.
    And yeah, maybe it’s going to be sad when this little girl googles her name. Or maybe, despite the fact that we’re painting them as monsters, these are actually good parents. Maybe they will work to make sure she understands that she is loved. Maybe they will use the extra 50k in their pockets to ensure that their little girl has a better life, considering that they brought her into a world they no longer feel equip to protect her from.
    I’m so disappointed in Autostraddle for this. There are many many many queer women with the legal background to actually get into this, and many of them are writers. To not at least consult them, and to take the word of WikiPedia as a way to call someone a racist is irresponsible reporting and, at best, simply ignorant.

    • But good parents also sometimes do racist things. One condition doesn’t negate the other. If we’re committed to calling a spade a spade, why not name racism where it exists — even when it’s being carried out by people who may be good parents, or who we feel sympathy for?

      I also think it’s worth noting that racism doesn’t have to be “blatant” in order to count. (Although I do think it’s pretty blatant here.)

  22. “This is about a white lesbian who was totally fine with her racist relatives and the lack of Black people in her life until she birthed a half-Black baby girl. This is how you can be a white lesbian and not be an ally.” This is everything!!!

    • I seriously wonder if they would have gotten this far if they found out they have gotten the wrong donor if the baby was white.

      • I don’t think the sperm bank would have confessed to their error if it wasn’t going to be obvious as soon as the baby was born, so I don’t think they would have found out.

      • I SAID THE EXACT SAME THING!!!! OMG I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought the same thing…

  23. I completely empathize with this couple, it’s a hot ass mess! We live in a racist society with people who lose their shit with being called racist than actually being racist! This couple admits to their failings about race and if they could find the means to get compensation because this was not expected, I say sue sue sue sue! They are actually going to work on being more culturally competent and yes the possibility of their child in the future seeing this will hurt but the couple will explain to their child with love and maybe some glitter about the world.

    IT’S LIKE THE EPISODE ON THE L-WORD! Where Tina (who is white) and Bette (white passing bi-racial person) where talking about donors. They were set on white donors but when complications of finding a *white* artist donor (they want their child to be artistically inclined *eye rolls*) Bette finally finds a donor but Tina has to met him without Bette to get the specimen.

    Tina goes to pick up the artist Bette found and she finds out he’s a 6+ foot BLACK GUY! Tina visibly unsettled tries to not lose her shit goes with him to the donor center and he asks “Did Bette tell you I was black?” Tina flustered goes into the white lady liberal shit that I am all to familiar with, “Oh no no *garble garble* it’s fiiiiine!” Other shit happens in the episode.

    Bette and Tina get into an argument which leads Bette into a racial existential tizzy about her identity and being white passing. Bette’s sister Kit (played by my hero Pam Grier) was like “You let her see what you *want* her to see,” which is SO LOADED it can’t fly.

    Back to the story: What makes me laugh about this is that if the wrong sperm came from a white donor they probably would not have known and life would continue on in their racist Ohio town.

    How time makes fools of us all….


    Where a mother went to a sperm bank and the child born was sick with a lot of illnesses and a little person. The medical expenses of the child was so much that the son when to Jane (without the mother knowing) to see what she can do to get money from the sperm spank that promised a “healthy child.” The mother was reluctant because she loves her son and does not want to him to feel like he was a mistake or that she is suffering because of him. They go ahead with the case but during questioning it becomes too much and there was emotions and ugh the heartbreak! I think they settled but things life are like a genie’s bottle, when it’s out it cannot be put back in…..

    I really liked this episode and Drop Dead Diva it’s on Netflix, so clearly my opinions of this case regarding this white lesbian couple will in fact be formed by the two episodes that is available on Netflix.

    You can learn so much from TV!!!!

    • NGL, when Tina first panicked about the donor I thought it was because she had not signed on to have the baby of a guy THAT massive. I was really sad when I found out that most sperm banks don’t stock the sperm of short men. If that baby’s coming out of my junk, I want the petitest donor possible.

  24. Thanks for the article; this is the first I’ve heard of this story.

    There is a lot of fuckuppedness here – the wrongful birth and breech of warranty is so unspeakably wrong.

    And I agree that it is totally effed up to not expect the racist family members and communities to change. On the one hand, it seems like a cop out to say, ‘Oh, gosh, we have to leave this place because it’s only cool for everyone to be racist if everyone’s white’. But as a queer woman living in a small town and planning on having a child soon, I can see how relocating would seem like a good idea for this couple and their baby. Challenging your family members is one thing; taking on an entire town when you have a baby/toddler and trying to fight to make it the best place for your child, to make sure they can thrive despite judgement and hostility… It’s a lot, and hard to do without family or community to support you.

    I’m okay with living where I live right now, because I have a strong sense of self and strong relationships, even though it isn’t a great place to be a minority. I am able to choose when to fight people’s ignorance and when to let things slide, because sometimes you need to do both for your own mental health. But I plan on getting to a better, more diverse place before my kid reaches school age, because I want them to live in a place where their family, their lived experience, is valued and recognized, and is not just some kind of teaching experience for people as they (hopefully) try to overcome their ignorance.

    A lot of the things that feel hostile when you’re a minority are things that are not meant as hostility – it is hard to explain to someone, for instance, why calling my partner my ‘friend’ makes me so angry. Or why assumptions based on race, even when they’re ‘positive’ assumptions, like ‘oh, black babies are so cute’, or ‘asian children are so good at math,’ are still racist. These are microagressions built into people’s understanding of the world, and they are draining. It’s great when you’re able to help people overcome their racist/homophobic/ableist/transphobic baggage, but I also think that people have a right to choose to live in a place where they don’t have to fight so hard and to not feel judged for taking the easy way out. Maybe this baby pushed these women to move to a bigger city, but that doesn’t mean that they’re bad parents or that they’re just too lazy to make people overcome their racism. I think it is hard to find a balance between changing the world and finding a way to live in it. I don’t think it is fair to say that they were totally okay with their racist relatives before they had a black child – it’s also totally possible that the life-changing event of having a child made them take a look at their lives and think, hey, these people are not good influences for us or our child – let’s blow this popstand and go live somewhere where we all feel safe(r) and accepted.

  25. So I have lots and lots of complicated feelings about this article/situation being a biracial person raised by a white person so here we go:

    In terms of the lawsuit, wikipedia is a terrible source of legal advice. State by state the requirements for a particular legal action may change, some states it may be harder or easier to bring a malpractice lawsuit than others etc. I’d guess no matter what bringing a malpractice lawsuit against a sperm bank would be hard to win. So they’re suing for what, most likely, their lawyer told them will the legal argument that has to potential to get them the most damages. Tort law is not particularly pleasant.

    The sperm bank messed up, there is no question about that. I’m assuming this couple put a lot of thought into who the genetic input of the whole half of their baby was coming from. I’m not gonna say that this woman doesn’t have the right to consider that question and want to use a particular person’s sperm, and get upset when another person’s sperm is used, simply because her and her partner can’t have a baby together genetically. Because I’m sure couples who can spend quite a lot of time thinking and worrying about whether this is a person they want to have a baby with before they do. In my opinion, they have every right to be upset about the clinic making a huge, inexcusable mistake (using the wrong sperm/labeling it wrong).

    Obviously this situation transcends just the clinic messed up though, because its ultimately about race and racism. And I get that a white parent suing because ‘I have a black child now and am not adequately prepared for one’ sounds super awful. I don’t know this woman and maybe that’s her excuse for ‘I don’t want a black child’. It wouldn’t surprise me that much. I’m concerned for this daughter, and her sense of self-worth when she finds out about this lawsuit. For all my statements above about it legally making sense and that the clinic did mess up, this girl is going to spend her life with it lingering over her head. Knowing her parents sued because they wanted a white baby and got her instead. My sympathy for this couple lessens significantly when I think about this.

    But here’s the thing… as bad as ‘I have a black child now and am not adequately prepared for one’ sounds, it’s also probably incredibly true. Except they are aware of it. A lot of parents aren’t. Mine sure wasn’t. And to not just be aware of it but try and take action about it by getting money to move to a better environment? I’m having a hard time getting angry about that tbh. I’ve been the only person of color in a classroom enough times to tell you its crappy. I’d rather have a child be raised by parents cognizant of the fact racism is going to play a role in their child’s life and that as white people they are not best equipped to confront that fact than not address it at all. If the lawsuit is just one step in doing that, I think I might be okay with that. I’m not sure, but its what I’m leaning towards.

    (And to be fair, as a law student its hard for me to get offended by people suing for iffy things, because I’ve spent years thinking and analyzing and overanalyzing cases of people suing for iffy things. I’m not necessarily coming at this at the same perspective other people are.)

    • Okay but THIS PERSON’S opinion is really important because it sounds like they have some in-depth knowledge of how the law works and ALSO they are a Biracial person raised by supposedly white parents

      (just going off of- “mine sure weren’t.”)

  26. I’m a few-times egg donor and I have to say I occasionally see related stories in the news and just think, “Oh please don’t be my eggs please don’t be my eggs.” In their small town I wonder how many sperm donors are sitting there wondering if their donation was the “wrongful” one.

    Regardless, a sperm bank is basically a store, not a hospital, so medical malpractice would not be a litigation option. This WAS a breach of warranty, plain and simple, race issue or no race issue. Had it been Caucasian 389 instead of the one they ordered, it would be the same breach of warranty. And that’s terrible, and they should be compensated.

    The wrongful birth part is disturbing as hell. Poor kid. Bad lawyer. Gross.

    • Also, I can’t help thinking they could easily raise moving costs through crowdfunding instead of permanently stigmatizing their daughter. “Help us move our mixed family out of this racist town!” is a pretty damn good pitch. I’d chip in a few bucks!

      (Yes, I realize I’m oversimplifying. But sometimes it all seems that simple.)

      • so this is random, and not anything to do with the article. but I’ve considered donating eggs – is it worth it, do ya think?

        • 100%! You get used to giving yourself the shots, and I didn’t notice all the side effects I’d been warned about. Maybe just a little extra-PMS feeling for the 10 days or so before the surgery.

          Honestly the only part I hated was the recovery room after the surgery. For whatever reason you’re left feeling like you have to pee so bad your bladder will explode, but of course you’re not allowed to move for a while. Gah! Torture. But worth it.

          I did it anonymously and the contract is really thorough — it has a “if the laws change” rider about what you agree to if something changes in the future and the kid is allowed to access the egg donor info. (As in, you wouldn’t want contact, you would, or you wouldn’t reach out yourself but you’d respond if the kid was doing so)

          But after you deposit that check don’t forget Uncle Sam’s taking half of it back!

  27. Kinda fucked up that you’re claiming racism here when there is none to be had. The mothers have stated over and over in interviews that they love their daughter very much. The issue here is that the clinic misrepresented their product (the sperm donation) and they want to be sure that the clinic is held accountable. That is all.

  28. For everyone who wants to talk about how critical and intricate sperm donor selection is and how parents invest so much time and money into screening donors, I ask you one question: Would Cramblett and her partner be suing for “wrongful birth” if the wrong donor had been another white person?

    Because from what I’m reading, the entire legal basis of their “wrongful” claim is that the child is Black and that her Blackness makes their lives more difficult. That is what they are suing for. So all the other excuses and hypotheticals that the apologists on here are tossing about are wholly irrelevant.

    Anything to avoid talking about antiblackness, typical. And for the record, I would be just as angry about the rank racism of this case if Cramblett and her partner were a hetero-cis couple.

    • “the entire legal basis of their “wrongful” claim is that the child is Black and that her Blackness makes their lives more difficult”

      False. They had not prepared themselves for dealing with having a child that is of a different ethnicity. In terms of adoption/artificial insemination this is a very important part of the planning process.

    • I agree! If it had been a brown eyed brunette donor, would they even think to sue? They very well could, but would they?

      “Because from what I’m reading, the entire legal basis of their “wrongful” claim is that the child is Black and that her Blackness makes their lives more difficult.”

      YES! I’m really annoyed with the fact that as parents, they can’t Google how to do Paytons hair. Should that even be part of this? That you can’t do her hair???

  29. This is not the most insightful, intricate comment to make on this article and this issue… but as someone from Ohio (a much more diverse part of Ohio), who knows these types of 98%-white, p.o.c.-hostile communities…

    I hope that at least part of what each of us takes away from reading about situations like these is the question, “How do I confront and attack racism in my life and my communities today?” I guess I particularly mean white people who have the privilege, like this lesbian couple, of maybe not having to think about it every day. We have to be able to talk about Blackness, as Gabby says, or we are part of the problem.

    Personally I resolve to find ways to express that I value Blackness – that I value all kinds of individual differences. I hope that I can continue to acknowledge my privilege as a white person. I hope that I can talk about racism with the people around me, and address it even when it’s offhand and subtle and unintentional. That’s my personal takeaway. It’s quite aside from all the legal issues and institutional problems, but it’s what I can do in my little corner today.

  30. This whole situation is just the worst. I read an article earlier about this after seeing a twitter link, (which according to my browser history was from the Chicago tribune), where one of the women claims her family haven’t “fully embraced her honosexuality”, which just to adds to the mess.

  31. This is just really frustrating. Like, yeah, I think they have the right to sue, but not for what they’re suing for. The sperm bank seriously fucked up. Like, really, really fucked up. But it’s not a wrongful birth. A wrongful birth lawsuit says that if you had known your child would have a defect (and, um, blackness is not a defect), you’d have aborted the kid. She found out the sperm got mixed up WHILE she was pregnant. So.
    And I do think this would be a bigger issue if it was a heterosexual couple. Like, can you imagine what would happen if a white heterosexual couple had an accidentally black baby? Especially because most straight people don’t talk about using a sperm donor. It’d be a shit show. In this situation, it’s a lesbian couple. OBVIOUSLY the child is not the biological result of both of them. So they don’t have to fool anyone.
    It boils down to this: the kid is here, and they need to deal. That baby is a living, breathing human being, and they need to treat her as such. Sucks to suck that they didn’t know any black people and they don’t feel comfortable being around them long enough to get their child’s hair done. They’ll learn. Or, I hope to God they will, so that this child doesn’t have to deal with ignorant, racist parents IN ADDITION TO knowing she was NOT wanted and her parents made that known in the biggest possible away. Whatever money they get from this should go to her college fund and to her only.
    I don’t know. I get it, I’d be pissed, too, if some random sperm accidentally got into my body and made a baby. But once that kid arrives into the world, you need to learn to deal. And keep your mouth shut.

  32. The breach of contract portion of the complaint has a good chance of success for the simple fact that the clinic did not give the parents what they paid for – be it a white donor or black donor, it was not 380. At minimum they’re entitled to what the clinic has already offered – the money they paid for the sperm. But, the fact that the clinic uses hand-written labels and the involvement of something as important as a baby may make punitive damages available to encourage the sperm bank to change its practices. The wrongful birth tort is absolutely ridiculous and goes against the intent of the law. For one, this is obviously not the type of thing a physician could catch in an ultrasound. And, I don’t think any reputable court is going to label a certain race an abnormality.

  33. Wow. I can’t help but think about how she’ll feel when she’s older and finds out about how much her parents freaked out, and sees the language they used describing her and the whole situation

  34. I think some of us may be missing the point: the couple is not upset that their baby is half black. From what I have read in the news, they love their baby very much. The couple is upset because they chose a specific donor, and purchased this sperm from a bank, that was inseminated by a doctor, and the bank or the doctor, fucked that process up. That’s absolutely negligent. If the baby ended up being 100% white and they couple had a way of knowing that it wasn’t the donor they chose, they would have the same right to be incensed and pursue legal action. It’s cases like these (I’m also thinking of years ago when sperm banks could have men donate a zillion times and thus ended up being the paternal father of hundreds of children) that bring to light flaws in the sperm back/insemination process, and make it more transparent and safer for everyone.

    • Listen up, most of you commenters sound racist as hell, and you need to sit down, take a breath, and think for a minute about the real person at risk in this situation: THE CHILD. It’s great to empathize with adults, or something, but the main person these people now have responsiblity to is their child…and they are seriously fucking it up.

      Americans have a very litigious culture, and most of the commenters on this board are acting like it’s their “right” to be able to sue, without regard to whether that right might be at odds with their child’s right to not have her parents’ reaction to her blackness plastered all over the media.

      I get that they may be financially strapped, and have limited options. More than many people on this thread, I get that. But that doesn’t mean it is ETHICAL for them to bring this lawsuit. I wish they would take my white grandmother-in-law reacts when racist white people in Ferguson, MO (where she lives) make disparaging remarks without knowing she has a)several biracial and multiracial grandchildren, and b) hates racism. This 95 year old white lady waits a beat, and says, “You are talking about my grandchildren, and even if you weren’t, that is hateful and I won’t tolerate it.”

  35. I have to say, as a law graduate (I can’t say attorney yet for a few more months) I see this very differently. I highly doubt this woman choose to sue for wrongful birth because she views her daughter’s life as wrong. She’s most likely using whatever strategy her lawyer beleives is most likely to result in a favorable outcome.

    Implanting the wrong sperm into a woman is clearly a bad thing, but in order to actually get any money out of a lawsuit you need to prove damages. That is how tort law works. You need to establish (1) the existence of a duty, (2) a breach of that duty, (3) causation, and (4) damages. What this clinic did was very dangerous – impregrating someone with the wrong sperm could easily lead to a child with serious health problems. They should have to pay for this, to help ensure that it doesn’t happen again. However, you don’t win by arguing that you could have been hurt, you win by arguing that you were hurt.

    Thankfully, it sounds like Ms. Cramblett is a healthy child, so they can’t win on the grounds that they need money medical expenses. The only argument they can really make is that there are additional expenses associated with raising a child of color in an enviornment that is safe for her to grow up in.

    Not everyone has the money to get up and move to a better area. If this family needs to relocate to give their daughter the best possible chance at a better life, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to persue whatever legal course is most likely to allow them to do so.

    It sounds like Ms. Cramblett and her partner love their daughter very much and are willing to leave their home behind to raise her somewhere where she won’t face as much discrimination and where she will be able to see people who look like her when she walks down the street. If she needs to argue “wrongful birth” to give her a better life, then I think she’s doing the right thing.

    • I meant Ms. Cramblett’s Daughter is a healthy child, not that she herself is a child, obviously. Sorry!

    • I think that if this is the strategy their lawyer advised, then the lawyer is being irresponsible and probably also racist. Wrongful birth is an incredibly complicated and difficult tort action, and at least at my law school we spent a lot of time talking about how problematic its very existence is and what the consequences would be for any child whose parents pursued such a claim. To me, a lawyer who does not have all the facts, choosing to claim wrongful birth comes across as sensationalist in addition to racist, because from the facts that we have, it hardly even seems that the claim is likely to succeed. There are other tort- and contract-based options available to them.

      • That may well bet rule. Given that the child is healthy, I don’t really get how wrongful birth applies. You’re right that even when in wrongful birht cases where the child was born with a genetic disease, suing on this ground is controversal.

        I don’t know anything about the particular laws of this jurisdiciton though. It’s possible that where they live there is a precedent for bringing a successful wrongful birth case under similar circumstances (which itself would be very problematic, but that isn’t the mother’s fault). It’s also possible that the laywer made a mistake, possibly due to their own racism. Maybe the lawyer is actually guily of malpractice.

        What I find unlikely is that the mother chose to sue for wrongful life specifically or that she is claiming that there is something wrong with her daughter. She’s probably doing what her lawyer advised, whether that advice was good or not.

        • Wow, I really need to proof-read before hitting submit. I meant, “that may well be true”. I again apologize for the typos, clearly I’m a little tired today.

        • (As a soon to be lawyer too) I also think that claiming wrongful birth is the lawyers’ doing. The mothers told them the facts and they tried to fit them into certain boxes. But the claim shouldn’t have been included, in my opinion. Wrongful birth leaves a bad impression and seems potentially toxic to the whole case and other claims because it comes off as racist. This may not be the mothers’ intent, but they did give birth to a perfectly healthy kid. By arguing wrongful birth, then the natural implication is that had they found out earlier in the pregnancy that the kid would be biracial, then they would have taken steps to prevent the birth. I highly doubt this is what the mothers are intending to portray, but a wrongful birth claim leads you into that territory – with an almost non-existent chance of success.

      • Yes! I’m so glad to finally see someone talking about the lawyer’s racism here. For all we know, that’s the full source of the fucked-upness we’re seeing here.

    • I think you forgot the “As a white person, I see this very differently.” ‘Cause clearly.

      • Maybe you’re right. This situation involves complex issues, and it’s been interesting to read other people’s perspectives. It’s quite possible that I’m wrong – I fully admit that as a white person my opinions on this topic have less value because I don’t know what it’s like to grow up as a person of color.

        I guess I’m just used to the fact that legal language is often very archaic and offensive, as the law takes a while to catch up to society. When I saw the cause of action I figured that this lady’s attorney had a reason to choose it – maybe it was a bad call, but how could the mother know that?

        Obviously this mother is ignorant about people of color. I’m sure that she has, at the very least, implicit biases against Black people, given that almost all white people do. However, it sounded to me like she’s aware of her own ignorance and is willing to remedy it. The mother stated: “I want my child to be raised around people that maybe look like her, and unfortunately, we are not going to get all of those assets there in Uniontown…We want her to grow up in a community where she feels accepted, feels like it’s normal to be who she is.” That sounds reasonable to me, as does feeling anxious that her daughter’s wellbeing is at risk if she’s forced to remain in a community that is 98% white.

        To be honest, it didn’t occur to me that the daughter would feel like she was unwanted if she later found out about the lawsuit. I figured the media coverage would die out after a couple of weeks and that no one would still be talking about it by the time she’s old enough to understand what happened. I assumed that if she had questions, that her parents would explain that of course she was wanted and loved and that the goal of the suit had been to give the family the resources they needed to give her the best start in life. Maybe these were naive assumptions and maybe I’m too ready to assume that people generally have good intentions.

        As I’ve acknowledged in other comments, I don’t know if these people are racist, I don’t know if they’re good people, and I don’t know if they are doing this for the right reasons. I hope for the sake of their little girl that they are indeed being truthful about their motiviations and that they will do whatever is needed to ensure that she grows up happy, confident, and secure in her identity.

  36. They have every right to be angry about getting the wrong sperm and perhaps they are taking the path most legally recommended to ameliorate that wrong.

    But they don’t seem to be considering that HOW or WHETHER they go this legal route can have a huge negative impact on their child, now, or in the future when she can read about “wrongful birth” etc. That’s what distressed me about what they are doing.

    That is why I think they should drop this. This might be the best legal route and these words have specific legal meaning….and all of that reasoning does little to lessen the potential emotional damage this could do on their own child.

  37. The sperm bank is obviously in the wrong and the family should be compensated, BUT the basis of the lawsuit is about her race. I don’t know how or why people aren’t seeing that.

    I wonder if they’d still sue if it were the wrong donor, but a caucasian brown eyed donor…

    • The lawsuit wouldn’t go anywhere if the donor had been caucasian. Really, the only way a lawsuit under similar circumstances would go forward is if the baby had been born with a serious mental or physical handicap. That’s what’s so sad about the fact that they would even file the thing on the basis of race.

      I keep thinking what if the parents had instead tried to do something more positive, like a GoFundMe campaign or similar. I think they could have been perfectly honest that they were on a learning curve with race issues and people would have supported them and their daughter.

      • Someone else crowdfunding further up. That was certainly a option but but the vast majority of crowdfunding efforts don’t work. The media only covers the ones that viral.

        And frankly, why should charity have to fill the balance when the sperm bank caused the difficulty. What about accountability for everyone else needing insemination services?

        • It’s a fair point, however I think that for such a unique circumstance it would not be all that difficult to have such a campaign go viral… after all, the news story about the lawsuit went viral, didn’t it? People are interested in the story.

          And yes I agree that the sperm bank created the situation, but it’s also possible that once such a campaign had gotten off the ground, they might could have pressured the sperm bank to contribute.

          Finally, in any case, it would have been better even if it didn’t work because it wouldn’t have involved suing the sperm bank over the color of their daughter’s skin. And keep in mind, their lawsuit could very well fail as well (in fact, my guess is that it will not be successful). But which of these risks leaving a greater trail of stigma in the daughter’s future? An unsuccessful fundraiser or an unsuccessful lawsuit over her skin color? That’s not a difficult question to answer.

  38. I’m pretty appalled at the behavior of this couple. While the sperm bank clearly screwed up, blackness is NOT a defect. Your child is your child, you people are kidding yourselves if you think reproduction (or adoption) is anything other than a roll of the genetic dice. Should parents have the right to sue if their kid ends up being queer? Disabled? Any other quality considered undesirable by society? OF COURSE NOT. And we don’t see those lawsuits happening because it’s absurd. A wrongful birth suit in this instance is disgusting. Honestly, you never know what your life is a parent might be like, I think you need to do your best and realize you don’t have control over who your kid will be. This is clearly about racism and I’m super disappointed in the comments on this article.

  39. This is so wrong on so many levels. Ugh.

    I have often thought about fostering and adoption and the issues that could come up with raising a child from a different heritage to me. It worries me that I wouldn’t be able to teach my child enough of their identity, and I would unknowingly inflict microaggressions on them.

  40. I’m really somewhat torn over this. I fall on the side of ‘ok, this is pretty racist and you should love your kid no matter what’. What confuses me is that one the one hand I do feel the sperm bank fucked up because the parents would probably have an easier time of explaining the child’s parentage if she wasn’t clearly racially different to them. On the other hand, one of my friends is has a Jamaican father (who was absent during her childhood) and a white English mother and aside from a couple of ignorant people, none of us gave a shit that her mum was a different colour to her. So yeah, sue the sperm bank for fucking up, because whatever race the donor they gave you the wrong sperm, but don’t sue them under those terms. And while you are at it, sue half the country for causing a social situation where having two white mums and a mixed race child isn’t considered perfectly normal and simple.

  41. I understand this couple wants compensation and are facing financial burdens, like moving, but honestly, if it’s your kid, you take the high road.

    If you want to sue, even if it might grant you a better chance of winning, you refrain from framing it in a way that would ever even hint at dissatisfaction with your child.

    What’s worse? Never having compensation for malpractice and undergoing some financial difficulties, or *actually making your child feel unwanted, unloved and defective*

    It’s a pity they are ready to sacrifice their integrity as parents this way and allow an even greater injustice to happen. Poor baby.

    • I don’t know whether they are good people/good parents or not. I’m not saying that are definitely not racist or that they have pure motiviations. However, I’m also not assuming the opposite.

      To me, it depends on whether they really need the money to relocate or not. If they genuinely cannot afford to move without getting compensation, and they think that moving to a more diverse area is critical to their daughter’s wellbeing, then I think the suit makes sense (assuming wrongful birth really is the best cause of action – it may well not be, but that would be the lawyer’s fault, not the mother’s). If they raise their daughter with lots of love and affection, I’m sure she’ll understand when they explain that the lawsuit had nothing to do with her being defective and everything to do with wanting the resources to give her the best possible chance in life.

      Now, if they are not really doing this with their daughter’s best interests at heart and are just looking for some extra cash, then yes, I think what they’re doing is wrong.

    • Seriously, if they had entered with a different claim they could have won, and won plenty of money in damages. Breach of fucking contract is it! And they could have left the kid out of it but included “needing to relocate to raise and love our daughter in a place where she can feel accepted and nurtured and not have to breathe the smelly air of racism and ignorance into her sweet little lungs” as a damage.

    • Thank you, Rhymeriver. This expresses how I feel, exactly. The child is healthy, and could find some happiness if the parents showed more integrity and dropped this whole lawsuit bullshit altogether.

      By “returning the goods to the store”, and sueing the company for “defective goods”, makes an absolute mockery of their child. I just hope that Payton can be loved for who she is and who she can be, without this absolute bullshit going down. Proceeding with this action is a violation of their daughter’s potential, and mental health. This just strikes me as a huge and awful example of racism.

  42. Like, I really don’t get why we are putting this all on the parents when it seems pretty clear to me that most of the racism could be coming from a) the lawyer and b) that state’s legal system.

    • For me the mother’s reply of “No why would I request that? My partner and I are Caucasian. You know that from our profiles?” She could have said “No it was another donor I picked”

      • That’s why I didn’t say “all the racism!” Also, people say dumb stuff when they’re shocked.

        • It’s possible the reason for lawyers they were disappointed Payton isn’t going to be full relation to her sibling, angry they were not given what they requested and fear they may not be able to raise a biracial child into a proud and confident woman in a racist world and lawyers spun it into this. But they hired them.

          How is Payton going to feel when she reads why would her mom ever want her? She’s caucasian. Her mom’s excitment turning to anger hen her race is discovered. How there was suffering and damagebecause she had to drive out of the way. possible Payton might consider racist laws and lawyers after she reads it. But I’m not sure considering how hu rtful those comments are to complete strangers.

        • Yes, they hired them, but in a small community your choices are limited. And so.

          I think this case is extremely complicated and we shouldn’t just go, yep, they’re racist, done. That’s too easy. Clearly there’s a lot of work to be done by everybody, ourselves included. (God knows I’m plenty racist sometimes.)

      • Guys, I’m black and I don’t find that comment racist. It’s makes sense that they never considered a child of a different race. Her family isn’t multiracial. Given her racist uncle and inexperience with diversity. I agree that knowingly bringing a black child into her family would bad idea.

        Her other actions with the lawsuit. I have problem with. I respect that she wants to win the case and deserves to win. But, she’s sending a message to her baby that her race bad.

  43. I keep seeing the idea that this case will be a terrible shock for the child when she googles her name someday.

    I have four donor conceived kids. I easily know a dozen.

    They all know the stork didn’t bring them. They weren’t an immaculate conception. They know way more about where babies come from than their peers.

    I don’t worry this girl will be blindsided.

    I’m also from a mostly white town in Ohio. I couldn’t ignore that when designing my babies (tongue in cheek!). If I don’t know how to raise a son, I’m certainly not going to raise him on a lesbian seperatist commune. Choosing between your child and your community is a crappy choice.

    Having to defend your family constantly is exhausting. Strangers asking why your kids don’t look like you or like each other is grating when you also have family/co-workers/acquaintances refusing to acknowledge certain relationships, too.

    They want another child. Do they pick the same donor again so their kids are “related” or do they go with their originally planned donor?

    Would I feel freaked out if I learned of a huge lab error? Yes! Do I fault someone for following the recommended action of their lawyer? No.

  44. Holly fuck. I am born and raised in this Area of Ohio!!!! I am from Canton, which is only 15 minutes away from Uniontown. This woman is lying out of her ass when she makes claims that it’s “not possible to raise this baby in a community with people who look like her.” There is a huge population of black people in Canton. She could move 15 minutes away and be in a community where having a bi-racial child is pretty common. The McKinnley, Timken, Hoover and GlenOak school districts have dense populations of black, white, and latino students. If she gave a shit about her baby she would get the hell out of Uniontown.
    I wish it could be as simple as calling the racist citizens of Uniontown out on their bullshit, but Ohio is one of the most utterly racist states in the Midwest. There are certain cities in this area of Ohio that black people just completely avoid out of fear for the their safety and wellbeing. I had a friended who needed a ride home from a club meeting once, and when she got in the car and told me that she lived in Louisville, I was terrified as a POC. Canton is a somewhat diverse city, surrounded by farming land, Amish country, and areas of white poverty. Uniontown, Hartville, Louisville, East Canton, etc., all as a result, are populated heavily by ignorant white rednecks steeped in racism. There are still active and thriving chapters of the KKK in these areas. No news media in the area is going to call them out on this. The few allies or POC locals who do speak up will be silenced by a wave of racist backlash and aggression.

    It is not hard to move from Uniontown to Canton. One can easily find comparable housing in both price and level of luxury in Canton as they can in Uniontown. Ohio has one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, so if she can’t find a job in Canton, commuting to Uniontown for work is still an option cuz it’s so close. this is not brain surgery. These women are just lazy, self-serving, ignorant, and racist as fuck.

    P.S. why is it so difficult to get on the internet and learn how to take care her daughter’s hair herself? This lady is ratchet as hell.

    • There are some parts of Ohio that are terrifying!! The first time I was called a n***er was when I was out with my white xgirlfriend outside of Cincinnati. Blech. I feel so bad for Payton. I’m a second away from driving up there from Lexington and bringing her back here with me. I’LL DO YOUR HAIR PAYTON!!!

      • God yes!!!!! People would literally say shit to me growing up like “What’s the difference between a black person and a bucket of shit? A bucket.” “What do you call a black squirrel? A squigger.” “I can’t be racist because racism is a crime and crime is for ni**ers.” “I wish I still had my banana peel from lunch so I could throw it at that monkey.” “White people have a right to use the word ni**er. If you get offended by it as a black person, then you are the true racist, because the dictionary defines it as “an ignorant person” not “an ignorant black person.” So you’re placing race on a non-race specific word.”
        “(lyrics to an old danish song) I once saw a negro man. his skin was black as cole. I tried to talk to him, but all he said was oogedy-boogedy-boogedy.”

        There is literaly an area of Louisville, Ohio called “Confederate Acres.” I wish I was joking.

        and it’s all so open, casual, and acceptable. Nobody says anything when stuff like this happens. Ohio is a fucking horror story.

    • You aren’t really selling the idea that they wouldn’t have to move far. Sounds like they should move out of state altogether.

      • Although I have negative Ohio feelings*, they really wouldn’t have to move far. There are a few parts of Ohio that are openly intolerant, but poc know to stay away from them. There are so many parts of Ohio that are diverse and would be fine for this family.

        * Kentucky and Ohio have this thing (feud)… What separates Kentucky from the assholes? The Ohio river!

      • I’m not saying that they would be free from racism. That’s not possible anywhere in this country. Especially not in this case since Canton and Uniontown are in the same county. I am saying that Canton, which probably has around a 30-40% black population is monumentally more diverse than Uniontown, a 97% caucasian area of significant white poverty.

        Growing up, I was a biracial girl in white-dominated classes. I was a drama geek and spent most of my time in the theatre, where I was one of maybe 1-2 other POC. My white peers saw me as “not really black” because of how I talked and dressed and because of my lighter skin. Besides that, they outnumbered me, so they felt like they could say whatever they wanted and get away with it… Put them in a room where the black students were in higher numbers and suddenly they would have nothing to say.
        That’s the difference between Canton and Uniontown.
        Canton racism is icky, but it’s cowardly. As a POC, I felt at times uncomfortable and sometimes degraded, but never unsafe. There are also white people in Canton who call out other white people on their racism and hold them accountable for it.
        Uniontown racism is blatant, unapologetic, and aggressive. It is the type of place where I feel not just uncomfortable, but unsafe. White people do not call other white people out on their shit here, but instead stand in agreement. Horrific racism is not concentrated mainly in the mouths of stupid high schoolers, but instead dispersed amongst all of the general public. You will be hard pressed to find other POC walking down the street; it’s extremely isolating. The high poverty leads too poor education, mix that with limited diversity, and you’ve got a recipe for some seriously scary ignorance in regards to POC. We’re talking the kind of racism usually found in the Deep South.

        Canton is far from perfect, but compared to Uniontown it’s light years ahead.

  45. This couple left me speechless after hearing about what they had to say. Pure racism on their part. Just love your daughter no matter is all i gotta say

  46. Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s imagine that this couple sat down and went through the genetic choices, and they ordered a female baby. But the baby turned out male. Would we say that the clinic “messed up” because this couple had a “right to determine what their family looks like?” (Sex-selection will soon be available, btw.)

    For now, we agree that gender is an expected randomness in the way a baby comes into the world. If a parent is pissed that their kid is the “wrong” gender, we call them out on their sexism/inflexibility.

    But apparently race still needs to be clearly delineated so that people can continue to have the “choice to determine what their family looks like.” The blackness is being treated as an inconvenience or a burdensome taint on these women’s lives… a “wrong order.”

    It’s kinda weird and gross that we live in an era when LGBT reproductive choices mimic Nazi-style eugenics. I really think the focus needs to be on the racism of this couple and not on the “wrong order.”

    • Yea, no. Race is similar to gender but not the same. Gender has always been a genetic lottery. Race isn’t and considering the experience s of biracial kids it shouldn’t be. These women have know idea how to handle their child’s race. They were given a surprise that isn’t possible 99% of the time. How do you think that will effect her identity. Literally, she lost her extended family before she was born due to racism. Her mothers have to leave their home and community for her. That’s going build resentment.

      My family directly taught me about my culture and my identity was shaped in part by their experiences. I’m not against couples choosing to start multiracial families. But choice is the key word. You need to be PREPARED for the fact that your family is going to have multiple ingroups. These women sound terrified. Suddenly, all the negative stereotypess, experiences and statistics for black people are looming in front of their baby girl. And they have no clue what to do. Frankly, I’d be happy with the sperm bank firing people.

      • Well, today gender is understood as a genetic lottery, but there is sex-selection sperm sorting that’s currently tightly regulated by the FDA. I’d imagine that soon people will choose the gender of their offspring as readily they choose the race.

      • “These women have know idea how to handle their child’s race.” her child is still 50% white, and to say that you have the handle the black race like it’s some sort of problems makes me question your own thoughts on blackness. I don’t know you, but that’s how I read it.

        • Hi Ka3L, I don’t know you, but I just read that as you calling me an Oreo or attempting to be color blind.

          Either way, there is a body of research on transracial adoption that suggests that parents who are not properly prepared can unknowingly facilitate negative identity formation within their children.

          There are specific realities that go along with being black in America. Payton’s mothers don’t have any experience with said realities, and that can have a significant pyschological impact on the girl.

  47. For the love of Beyoncé, you had ONE job, sperm bank. The real reason they should be held accountable is that they allowed a child of colour to be born to parents foolish enough to launch a racially based public lawsuit she will read about when she’s old enough. It’s not wrongful birth, it’s wrongful parentage. Much has been written about the problematic aspects of transracial adoption and the harm it inflicts upon children of colour raised in white supremacist homes. I might get in trouble for saying this but even well-meaning but clueless white people are not necessarily qualified to parent children of colour. Payton will be parented by two people who view her as a mistake. That’s on the sperm bank.

    • Yes I’m glad that someone called out the literature on transracial adoption. I have seen many racist-ass people adopting black kids (in my part of the US, there’s an evangelical trend of treating it as literally mission work, which makes me pretty furious). Payton is the correct plaintiff in this situation.

  48. It sounds like the couple’s lawyer is a real moron who failed to consider the best interest of the child now and in the long run. When I first heard about this case I thought the parents sounded racist and hateful, because maybe their daughter didn’t turn out the way they wanted her to, but so what? I am pretty sure a lot of parents would say the same thing because children are little humans who grow into adults with free will- as opposed to little minions that grow up into ultra obedient clones of their creators. Even when I try to look at this issue from the parent point of view, a wrongful birth suit is entirely out of place. In law school, we learn to choose the case we are most likely to win. Here, the best case would be a standard contract violation because the true negligence is not in giving a couple the wrong race of sperm, it is that the sperm bank distributed the wrong sperm, period. Couple signed a legally binding agreement with the sperm bank to receive sperm x. When the sperm bank provided the wrong sperm, they violated that agreement and should pay damages. If the specimen the couple had been provided was a sample from a donor with a history of serious mental or physical illness, they might have a case for medical malpractice or “wrongful birth.” It is also makes you wonder in what other areas has this sperm bank been negligent? What if the sperm bank had given the couple sperm that had tested positive for an STD? In those cases, the parents of the child should and DO have a right to that information, and were robbed of the chance to determine what kind of donor they wanted. But in this case there were no medical repercussions. Their daughter was born healthy and normal and the birth mother remained healthy and normal. I just want to shake the idiot who decided to try the cultural incompetence approach because this case is going to be SO damaging to that little girl and the parents are most likely going to lose. If they hadn’t been such morons, they could have sued for breach of contract, won, and received damages in a tidy sized college fund for little Payton. This was totally Cramblett and Winkon’s big opportunity to LEARN A THING AND BE GOOD HUMANS and they totally blew it. Human being fail. Lawyer fail.

  49. I’m honestly a bit pissed at this whole situation. If this one sperm bank is so f–ed up, who’s to say the others aren’t just as screwed? I think you all should be more worried about the fact that you might not even have control over picking the bio-dad of your children and a bit less about the fact that these women admit they have no idea about how to deal with race. They clearly are trying to get to a better town for their daughter. There’s even one comment from one of the mothers about how she had to deal with shit growing up in that town because she’s lesbian and she doesn’t want that for her kid. I think we should all have that choice, and it’s great that they have some way to try for the money to do that.

    Meanwhile, I’m sitting here worried that I might not be able to do the thing where I don’t want a mixed race child unless there’s an obvious reason sitting next to me at PTA meetings. And what if I wound up with a kid with hereditary diseases and a donor who won’t be contacted for any reason just because the fucking donor company screwed up? It’s terrifying.

  50. Jesus take the wheel at some of these comments smh. No wonder black people don’t want to hang with white people.

  51. Here’s my question (and it’s a question, not a “devil’s advocate” thing, and a question mostly directed at any lawyers in the room): ostensibly this lawsuit is to raise money for them to move so that they can give their daughter a better upbringing–this on the basis of her being biracial. Is that why they’ve focused the lawsuit around her race? Would they still be able to pursue this explicitly, specifically racially-motivated goal with a lawsuit that was vaguer and less ugly/pointed in its terms?

    Also, wrongful birth: the conversation about that term is making me really uncomfortable. For one thing, what does it mean, exactly? If “wrongful birth” means “this child was born with disadvantages I did not know to prepare for and thus is going to have a substantially more difficult life while I play catch-up because she was wrongfully born to a mother expecting a different type of child instead of a mother who was already prepared to raise this type of daughter”–then wouldn’t this quite reasonably apply to being born biracial into a racist world? If, on the other hand, it quite directly implies that your child was a “mistake”–then why are people acting like it would’ve been okay for parents to legally imply such a thing if their kid had been born with a disability or birth defect instead of with a different race? Why are people acting like it’s only an ugly term in this instance?

    • (I’m a second year law student, full disclosure, so I am not an attorney but I do study the law every day and night and in my sleep) In the cases I have studied regarding wrongful birth,(none of which were specific to Ohio) the parents are typically trying to recover money to cover the advanced level of care their child needs as a result of some medical care provider’s negligence throughout the pregnancy and or birth of the child. This means the doctor or nurse or some attending medical care professional had a duty to the mother and the baby to deliver the child safely, but the doctor messed up somehow during the process. Parents have been able to recover damages for children born with birth defects the physician should have been able to identify prior to the childs birth, presumably giving the parent the option of aborting the fetus. One case we read was about a child born with her organs outside of her body, a condition the attending physician had the technology to diagnose, and the ability to notify the parents well before the child was born. The physician failed to notify the parents of the baby’s condition prior to birth. The baby lived less than 72 hours and the parents had to go through a lot of trauma and grief that could have been presumably reduced if the physician had notified them of the condition during the pregnancy. Wrongful birth suits are really sad and usually very heavy subject matter. It isn’t just the parents angry they had a child with some sort of shallow birth defect- they just end up with a special needs child as a result of negligent medical care, and they deserve to receive financial damages to aid in the care of those children.

    • I agree with Papa’s comment below/above and would add that I was taught that wrongful birth is always an ugly term. The cases we read as examples were almost always where the child died or was very severely disabled at a young age from a condition a doctor should have diagnosed before birth, resulting in a lot of emotional trauma and financial hardship for the parents. It’s not like it’s a common cause of action by any means.

  52. YES! “This is how you can be a white lesbian and not be an ally.” I wonder what did there uncle say about them being a same sex couple having a baby? I wonder? Did they want to smash in the head of this half black and half white kid like they did back in the 1800 and 1900’s? Where if the edges of the child’s ears was brown they(the white couple) would take the baby and smash there head up against the wall. I wonder if they felt this way or there parents wanted to do that when they saw the out come? I wonder?

    • One woman admitted that her family was struggling to accept her sexuality. Horrible, but not a uncommon experience in America. I think murder is a rather big leap. This isn’t the 1800 or 1900. There racist relatives disowned the family. There is a big difference between not acknowledging a child and murder. The mothers are actively working to make a better life.

      I think we can point out bigotry without equalizing with with with slaveowners and murders.

  53. while i’m very disappointed in the commenters who are acting as if this is a simple case of breach of contract, and not overwhelmingly tangled up in issues of racism/anti-blackness (it’s not JUST the wrong sperm, it’s that the wrong sperm provided the couple with a baby whose blackness has ~complicated their lives~, ), i’m also very disappointed in the commenters who think that a child with physical/mental/developmental health issues IS somehow less than human.

    i don’t want to derail, or anything – that’s not what this issue is about. but surely we can discuss the breach of contract the sperm bank committed without justifying/implicitly condoning the eugenic abortion of pwd.

  54. You know, I’m as white as they get, and I live in Europe, and I think the percentage of black people in my town is like, maybe 1%? But if they can’t deal, I’ll take the kid and love her like nobody’s business.

  55. holy. fucking. shit. good job, Gabrielle, as always. my biggest concern is the mental and emotional health of this baby. this child whose wellbeing is the responsibility of racist white people who think suffering = going to a black neighborhood. breach of contract is, IMO, the least alarming part of all of this. yes, the sperm bank fucked up. yes, this creates a unique set of problems for the couple. HOWEVER, this child now has to suffer the slings and arrows of benevolent, well-meaning white racists who think it’s totally okay to treat her like shit as if she chose her parents.
    sue the sperm bank for fucking up. not because this kid is half black. actually, if it bothers them that much, why don’t they find a family that WANTS this kid? hmmm?

  56. I also feel like besides the fact that the couple’s reaction to finding out they have a black donor was incredibly racist, that people having “the right” to choose what their child is like race wise, health wise, disability wise, etc, gets into a very eugenics way of thinking. People being able to pick and choose things about their children, could mean turning away children who aren’t white,neurotypical,able bodied, etc.

    • So people who are unable to have children shouldn’t have the right to have a family biologically related to them, children who could be seen as part of their family? That you shouldn’t be able to put the same careful planning in your child that you would put into your partner (if you could have had a child naturally?)

      I think everyone should adopt, however, I don’t think it’s problematic to want to have a child who looks related to you or to your partner.

    • Human beings who reproduce through PIVing do this all the time, though – it’s not like those of us who have uteruses and have sex with sperm-havers choose them through random statistical sampling. The uterus-haver may have already screened for hair color, height, eye color, build, a delightful way of scrunching up the nose while smiling, temperamental factors – there’s no way to get around that without living out the most dystopian dreams of men’s rights activists. Sometimes this does involve considerations of race, health, and ability, it definitely does. Should uterus-havers who need to get sperm some other way besides PIVing a partner be randomly assigned some genes out of the gene bank, for justice?

  57. I agree that this is legal strategy to right what is a terrific negligence on the sperm bank’s part. This child is lovely and they never say they are upset with her or her color. Hopefully the sperm bank changes its system and this doesn’t happen again.

    • I also want to amend that if someone told me I had a different sperm donor then planned I would be filled with “Anger. Disappointment. Fear.” What was a know equation now has a MAJOR unknown variable.

  58. A lot of interesting points in this conversation.
    1. I’m not getting what a lot of the first few comments are getting. I mean, where in the article was it implied that Cramblett shouldn’t sue for breach of contract? A lot of you are arguing as if that was a point that was presented and should be refuted. I don’t think anyone would disagree that what the Sperm Bank did was wrong. Reading through a few of the comments at the top was like being pelted with burning rocks.

    2. How can anyone say that racism isn’t a part of this conversation? I mean, even Cramblett said that the neighborhood they were living in made it hard and that she grew up with ‘stereotypical attitudes’ about race/poc. I mean, short of saying, “Yes I am racist. I grew up with racist beliefs and around racist people”, what else do you want?

    3. I think this article made a great point about race that everyone seems to either want to ignore or missed entirely: “But even with all the instances of racism around her and in her lawsuit, I don’t think Cramblett has any honest idea that she is racist. Most white people that are don’t have a clue.” This brings up an interesting point. I think that a lot of white people don’t think of racism in the same sense that POC generally do. Instead of thinking of it as an institution that whether we like it or know it or not, influences the way we see race in this country, racism is thought of as more of an ‘act of hatred’. It always has to include hatred of some sort. Therefore, as long as we’re not actively discriminating against anyone, it’s totally fine. This just isn’t the case.

    4. As evidenced by a few of the comments here, you can ‘love’ someone and still hold certain notions about them and their ethnicity. Plenty of slave owners loved their slaves like they were family too…

  59. I wonder if this would happen if the parents were black and their baby was white. I think its really sad that they’re essentially treating their daughter like she wasn’t meant to be the way she is. Maybe they need to open their eyes to see the beautiful life they’ve created is a gift and not a mistake. I hope that the racists in their family and even their town choose to love and accept Peyton and transform their views on people of color. At this point, that’s what needs to happen.

  60. Out of all the articles I’ve read on Autostraddle, I think this one might well be the one where the response from the commentators that makes me the saddest.

    I’d like to address a few of the points that have been made:

    -That the parents love her -This is true. But love can easily co-exist with racism. And love does not excuse racism. Gabrielle has quoted one of the mothers making a racist statement. Just because she loves her daughter does not make racism ok.

    -That the parents should be congratulated for being aware of the difficult they will face in raising a black child as white people-I call bullshit on this. The parents are aware of the difficult they will face in raising a black child as white people, but the way they have framed their argument makes it clear that they are more concerned about the difficulties they will face, and that they, as white people who have never dealt with racism, will have to deal with. If their priority was their daughter and the difficulties that she would face they would NOT be running this case, not a chance in hell. The daughter is going to grow up knowing her parents ran this case, she’s going to see it in the media, there is no getting away from the fact that her parents considered her a ‘wrongful birth’. There are many others ways to be culturally competent, say educating yourself about racism, perhaps meeting and forming bonds with other diverse queer families. So many other ways to acknowledge that perhaps you don’t have the right skills to raise a child of color, and I can’t believe people are giving them a pat on the back for this.

    -That the parents are trying to do the best for their child by raising money to move her elsewhere -Uh, yeah I’d buy this if they hadn’t ran this case. Sure, perhaps moving her elsewhere would be a good choice, and they might not have the money to make the move without this case, BUT what is more harmful? Dealing with racist shit from family members (and in an ideal situation, having your parents stand up for you and stand up against them), or having your parents, your own parents, run a case that you were a wrongful birth?

    -That the fault is with the lawyer, not the parents – (Note: I am a lawyer) The lawyer may well have recommended this cause of action, and the lawyer is racist no doubt. BUT the lawyer would have worked on the statement with the mothers, and would have taken what they were saying and framed it in a way that makes the most legal sense. Had there been no racist arguments there, and had the parents not been racist, I very much doubt those arguments would have been a main line of argument in the case regardless of how racist the lawyer was/is. I am not against blaming the lawyer but I am really disappointed that people are trying to shift blame away from the parents. Blame both but do not excuse the parents.

    -Ridiculous legal cases happen all the time -So? Let’s still call out this shit when we see it.

    -That Gabrielle is not a lawyer and shouldn’t be writing on legal matters -if you want a lawyer’s perspective on the case there’s plenty of legal journals, surely one of them will come up with something soon. Honestly this argument by other lawyers bothers me. Law is such a fucking elitist field, most -not all- by most people in law who have the finances and family support to become and succeed as lawyers are privileged. We need people outside of the field to critique it, to hold law accountable to the people, which is how it is meant to be! If only lawyers analysed legal issues…well, I hate to think what kind of world we’d end up in.

    -That there are other issues here such as reproductive rights -Sure but that’s no excuse for not talking about racism.

    -That if this where a straight couple, no one would expect the same from them. -Well fuck, sorry I didn’t realise we were aiming so low.

    I am honestly so disappointed by the commentary. I don’t really know what else to say. I thought this website was doing fairly well in bringing people along, but well…..

    I am frightened that perhaps the reason the commentary on this is the way it is is because in other articles it is easy for white queer women to get angry at the white men/political elite/people in power who are doing racist shit, whereas here maybe a lot of white queer women identify with the lesbian parents (either consciously or not) and that’s why a lot of the comments are so fucked up and trying to excuse them for their BLATENT racism and anti-blackness because fuck it is blatant, and it’s obvious, and yeah…

    BIG THANK YOU again for Gabrielle for writing this.

    • YES to that last paragraph. I don’t want to assume that everyone defending these mothers is white but I suspect that most are.

    • The lawsuit has to focus on the damages to the plaintiff (the adult suing the company), surely. If the daughter was an adult, I wonder if she could sue the sperm bank for damages to her for having to have been born to these white ladies?

  61. Are these women racist? Maybe. Does calling a beautiful baby a “breach of contract” and “a wrongful birth” feel undeniably icky? Yes. But let’s not lose sight of the bigger issue here, which is that a fertility clinic was so careless and negligent that they impregnated a woman with the wrong donor sperm, and they need to be held accountable for that.

    It seems as if Cramblett and Winkon are trying to force the clinic to take responsibility within the confines of laws that are not up to date with current medical technology. It seems obvious that you should be able to sue a fertility clinic for negligently impregnating you with the wrong donor, regardless of whether the child suffered any ill effects as a result. Parents choose their donors very carefully, and for the clinic to be so careless is unconscionable.

    While Cramblett and Winkon’s attitudes toward their daughter’s race are unpalatable, I don’t think we should demonize them when they are probably just trying to get justice in whatever way they can within the confines of outdated laws.

  62. I appreciate that gabrielle calls out how unbelievably upsetting the idea of getting inseminated with sperm you didn’t ask for and don’t want is, regardless of how it happens. I think that that idea of violation is behind a lot of the sympathy we feel for the mothers. I certainly feel sympathetic for them.

    At the same time, given how recently people have stopped using words like “miscegenation” in my part of the US, I can’t imagine a reproductive justice case more likely to drag up outright racism.

    Are there any good ways to discuss a baby you kind of didn’t want, not because you didn’t want a baby, but because you didn’t want THIS baby? I know disability rights activists talk about this all the time, how they feel like their parents are keeping a place set at the table for the neurotypical/ablebodied kid who never showed up. On the one hand, I’m close enough to some evangelical subcultures that treat international adoption as Mission Work that I almost want to salute any parents who know that they don’t have the cultural competency to parent interracially, but also, yeesh.

    I wish that the laws were in such a place that the mothers could say “as co-creator of a parenting situation that we were denied the ability to plan for, you’re co-responsible for serving this child’s best interest by helping us move. The end”. without having to make a legal record calling their daughter Wrong.

  63. again, “I’d say the child is presenting them with an important spiritual test, to see if they can raise their consciousness. Let’s see…” Often during slavery, mothers like these would just smother the child and kill it or the father would smash the kid up against the wall. How is she (the baby) going to get support living through biologic warfare and sleeping in the house with those that want to kill her existence . How? Do tell? Give the baby up for adoption and start all over. They got money they can do that, That is the right thing to do. Then go and get her money for malpractice. When they get there money then they can pay again for the right baby.


    That kid is going to have all types of problem on top of the fact a same sex couple is not safe in this world nor is a black female child that did not ask to be here. I am sad for our community on so many levels. Lesbians, female and the black community. This is an example of how white lesbians are not our allies. Who you sleep with does not always make your politics transparent.

    I don’t even want to see the level of abuse that we think might think happen. Naw… we need to get away from using abuse to bring us power as women and as artist. We have to start living from joy making art from joy. We live in dysfunctional society that makes us write blood poetry. once we heal, we have to keep writing blood poetry and articles like this to keep getting paid, no thank you. I don’t need the abuse to exercise my power. We can learn lessons through joy. We can.

    If your heart is not in the right place stop the madness now. I would respect them for that and it would make me sleep easy at night so I don’t have to write thinking of this child. I can’t sleep right now becasue I am writing love letters to a baby I don’t even know. abuse does not make us strong abuse makes us abuse others and where is the strength and love in that in that?
    Do the right thing and give the baby up for adoption. I will take her…

    • You are absolutely out of line. Watch the interview with one of Payton’s mothers on Jezebel, they obviously love their child. This is not 1900, just because they’re a while couple in an all white town DOES NOT MEAN THEY WILL MURDER THEIR DAUGHTER. Your assumptions are sick.

      The mother was effectively raped by the sperm bank and then forced to pay because she wanted a child anyway. She’s chosen to be better than whatever inhuman monster you think she is, and is raising her child to the best of her ability–including getting her out of a community that is hostile not only to poc but also to lesbians. The family is choosing to give up their jobs and their home and their family to make sure their girl has a better life. They’re choosing to endure the scorn of people like you so that they can get the money to provide that better chance and learn how to take care of a multiracial family properly. You are a horrible human being for thinking all white people would chose to murder and abuse their two year old just because she’s half black.

    • I do not understand why you persist in comparing these women to murders. Yes, there comments to the media were ignorant. But, ignorant comments do not murders make. Nor do you have enough information to declare them unfit mothers. What is wrong with you?

      I worry that this case with strum up opposition for gay parenting in black community because of people like you. You have to be able to acknowledge that these are mothers willing to sacrifice their families and communities for their child. They chose to continue the pregnancy after discovering the mix-up.

      I think that for two people without any experience with racial issues and raised in homogeneous racist community they have done well.

      This whole thread is seriously lacking in empathy for this family.

      • Really y’all if I knew that I wanted a baby. I went to the sperm bank and I found out that I was given a white man’s sperm. I would not be thinking about what my father or my uncle would say. What do they say now about them being a lesbian couple going to a sperm bank? COME ON!!!! Why would it matter what they would say about my black baby?

        One I would not sue.
        Two the media would have never known.
        Three it would not have be that big of a deal because I am having this healthy baby.

        The problem with this story is that they (the couple) saw fit to put money, a law suite before there “love” for the child. money does not fix everything. Would you want your kid to grow up knowing that your parents did not want you because you where half black? Would you want to be sitting in a classroom and some mean kids call out ” that is why your mother did not want you because you are black and they are gay any way” would you want to know that could happen??… No protection for the child’s future.

        So they did not care what would be the out come of a law suite as it related to the kid. All they cared about was the fact that it was not what they ordered and they wanted it fixed. Like money could fix it. COME ON NOW follow me. Until the media out break that is when the tears started to fall and it was not because of the kid. It was because of what society has now seen that color matters to a lot of people. Now they(the parents) are trying to explain it away. COME ON.. It is sad on a lot of levels. The lack of compassion on both side. This thread and the lack of compassion about how their kid would be seen in the public. They did not care. No it is not the 1900. But white folks have all types of underground networks in trading kids that they don’t want. It is call informal private re-homing. This is what is going on now. Naw, they don’t kill them like they use DAMN!! I hope not, but now they just give them away on the underground network. Informal private re-homing PLEASE READ THE LINK!!! THIS IS REAL http://www.nbcnews.com/news/other/unwanted-adopted-children-traded-online-underground-network-f8C11120107

        A couple with the mindset that they have might get to the point of thinking this would be a good way to go if at any point they could not handle it all. THIS IS WHAT I DON’T WANT TO READ ABOUT LATER!!

        “I worry that this case with strum up opposition for gay parenting in black community because of people like you. You have to be able to acknowledge that these are mothers willing to sacrifice their families and communities for their child. They chose to continue the pregnancy after discovering the mix-up.”

        No what i have to acknowledge is that the fear that white women carry around plagues the community with all types of crazy acts and it is not ok. It’s just not. This right here can be seen as unfit mothering for calling out a law suite for a kid that is healthy, cute and present. How could you go to court over something like this.. REALLY think about it!

        • I’m aware of the private rehoming problem. We need to work harder to ensure potential adoptive families are screened for cultural competency in both tranracial and international adoptions.

          This case differs from those situations. For one thing those kids were adoptions. Peyton has bonded with her parents since birth.

          And the couple is ignorant yes. But I believe them when they say that this is about making a better life their kid.
          Maybe I’m naive but half the people commenting think the lawsuit is called for. And you do realize that there probably 10 other cases where the parents didn’t come forward. Do you think the sperm bank should just get away with this type of negligence?

          I believe they didn’t realize the lawsuit could have negative long-term effects.

          I just don’t see evidence that this couple is evil. Maybe I would be less forgiving with a straight couple but to me this is just ignorance.

  64. I’ve been very upset about this story and the whole notion of wrongful birth suits in general. To me, a person who files a wrongful birth suit should have their child removed from the home; they are as good as saying, in the public record, “I do not want you.” That is not a good beginning to raising a child.

    But this article is a prime example of why, as a disabled person, I have such a difficult time doing social justice work on behalf of people in other marginalized groups. In particular, I want to call out this statement, because its ableism troubles me:

    “If the court rules in favor of Cramblett, they’ll be linking Blackness with a disorder, as a disease that people need to be warned about, a defect that can be sued over. And that is racist, unacceptable and an act of aggression against the Black community in the United States.”

    Could someone please read some disability theory, or learn something about disability history, or maybe acquaint themselves with the social model of disability, before writing articles like this one? The fundamental problem is not that blackness is being linked to disorder and disease. The fundamental problem is that disorder and disease are seen as reasons to devalue people like throwaway objects and sue over the fact that they were born at all. Why is THAT not seen as an act of aggression against disabled people? Why is THAT not seen as unacceptable? Why is THAT not seen as an outrage? The outrage doesn’t seem to be that disabled people are devalued, but that black people are being compared to us. It reads something like, “Ew. We’re not like those disabled people over there. They’re icky. Their bodies are icky. It’s perfectly understandable that we pathologize them and sue when we give birth to one. But us? We’re normal.”

    Well, shit. How exactly am I supposed to do work as an ally to people who think that disability would be an absolutely fine reason to marginalize me?

    Answer: I’ll keep doing the work because it needs to be done. But don’t think for a minute that I’m not traumatized by the immense silence about ableism that accompanies an article like this one. Where are the social justice activists speaking out about disabled people getting thrown under the bus here?

    • I’m sorry about the way the conversation is going. I think most people agree that “wrongful birth” is a horrible artifact of the law, but more people should think about the fact that it is incredibly bad for persons with disabilities.

      As a side note, it also dissapoints me how Autostraddle just jumped on the race bandwagon and didn’t look into the finer details of what’s going on at all. They’re not considering the aspects of abelism in the law, or anything about a woman’s right to choose who will father her child. (I mean, Gabriella mentions that, but otherwise ignores it completely in favor of running inflammatory headlines.)

  65. Another thought I’d add to my previous comment, if the parents are upset about the racist environment they’re raising their black child in, then it seems like they think it would be acceptable to have had a white child in the same environment. Wouldn’t they more likely develop a racist perspective surrounded by racist people anyway? Well I would put money on the fact that its probably not a good place to raise someone with that kind of concern over racism. Its a toxic environment, period. So to me, blaming it on the area is a cover reason as to why they really have an issue with having biracial children.

    • I think watching your child be the victim of racism is far worse than the prospect of your kid becoming a racist. It doesn’t reflect well on then that they were willing to raise any kid in a racist environment. But, they straight up state that being around racist people was normal to them before having their child.

      It seems like Peyton’s birth also brought up a lot of underlying racism in their family and community. I can understand that if they literally didn’t know any black people. Racism didn’t seem like a big problem in the past. Now, the situation is glaring and their in protection mode.

      • I can definitely see how it would be worse, but I really don’t think that the environment would have been a legitimate concern had the baby been white. So to me, I think there’s more to it than just the environment. But you’re right, its definitely a glaring issue to them now.

    • if someone can tell me where you can find an environment where your white kid of white parents won’t absorb any racism, I would be very happy. disclosure I am white and from the American South.

      people keep acting in this thread like you can just tell your racist-ass uncle to stop being racist and boom, solved.

      • You can avoid your racist uncle.

        You can tell your racist uncle that he is not allowed to see your family as long as he does not shut the fuck up forever about his racist views.

        You probably can’t convert die-hard racists, and many of them will never shut up, but you owe it to your kids and yourself to not have them around, however much you might appreciate their qualities.

  66. “I couldn’t possibly have a black baby. I’ve never been black or know what that’s like…”

    I couldn’t possibly have a black friend. I’ve never been black or know what that’s like…

    I couldn’t possibly have a gay baby. I’ve never been gay or know what that’s like…

    I couldn’t possibly have a gay friend. I’ve never been gay or know what that’s like…

    …what you’re really saying is that you don’t have the capacity to ever even attempt to UNDERSTAND what being someone different from yourself is like.

    What you’re saying is that you are perfectly content with the fact that you don’t understand the experiences of people different from you.

    What you are saying is that the simple fact of being different is just cause enough to not try and understand anything different from yourself.

    The LGBT community fights not only for equality and acceptance but for the simple act of empathy. Of asking people different from us to take two seconds out of their day to imagine what it would be like to be us.

    How easy would it be for our straight allies to dismiss us entirely by simply saying “I can’t possibly fight for LGBT rights. I have no idea what it means to be LGBT.”

    How will you ever know what it means be something different from yourself? You care enough to learn.

  67. You know what? It would have been 600% nicer if this couple had filed for damages against the sperm bank… on behalf of Payton.

    Like, the sperm bank caused Payton to be born to unprepared parents who will not be able to provide her themselves with the cultural knowledge she will need for growing up as a Black girl. This is a tort against Payton.

    They would need to give her damages – surely there are studies showing the dangers that await POC children growing up in an all-white family – and pay for the family to relocate in a less racist space that does not endanger her.

  68. So… after we all got a chance to hop on the “aren’t they so fucking racist?!” train, did any of us remember to mention that this couple was having their SECOND child, and wanted BOTH their children to have a biological connection through a shared donor? Shouldn’t we focus on reprimanding this couple because they didn’t choose a black donor the first time around?

    Fun story, love you Autostraddle, but this is a fucked up article that jumps over one very key issue: they wanted both their children to have the same biological “father”. That is where the breach of warranty/wrongful birth came into play.

    But, you know, it’s much easier to write someone else’s story, than let them tell it themselves.

    • My god, did you really jump onto the ‘reverse racist’ tailwagon? This is one of the worst comments.

      I’m driving to pick you up on the bus, seriously.

      No wonder poc distrust us.

      Julia, to address your point: indeed, their children not being biologically related, like they intended, is part of the tort the sperm bank has done them. It is also perfectly fine for them to have chosen a white donor, since in all probability they enjoyed the idea of the child looking somewhat like the non-gestational parent.

      This is not what they are putting forward in the case. They talk specifically about the perceived disadvantages of parenting a Black/mixed-race child. Not about the kids not having the same cowlick, for god’s sake.

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