As our own

A New York couple is filing a lawsuit against a fertility clinic after DNA tests confirmed that the husband was not the baby’s biological father. The couple became suspicious after their daughter was born with dark skin. The father is white and the mother is Dominican.

The couple is quoted as follows:

“… while we love Baby Jessica as our own, we are reminded of this terrible mistake each and every time we look at her; it is simply impossible to ignore.”

I’m curious if the sperm donor has yet been identified; what if it turns out that he is white?

Perhaps the mother’s genes dominate. It’s not unrealistic to think that a light-skinned mother could give birth to a darker child. Certainly people in the Dominican Republic are of all different hues.

And isn’t it possible that these types of mix-ups occur on a regular basis, but do not come to light simply because the produced child appeared to be the same race as the parents? What does this say about the presumption of belonging?

There have been several other cases in which darker-appearing children have been born to white mothers using reproductive technology. In one case in the Netherlands, a white woman bore twins, one white, one black. She remembers seeing a black couple in the waiting room of the clinic, and wondering what would happen if a “mistake” were made. The presence of white couples did not engender such thoughts.

In another case, a white woman who bore a child unintentionally fathered by an African American man gave up custody.

And of course, there have been several instances of doctors who used their own sperm to impregnate their clients.

These cases all have implications about what it means to be a parent, what it means to have a child, what it means to want a child, what it means to belong to a family and how children are perceived as being right or “terrible mistakes.” I say that once you decide you want to bear that child, you make a commitment. Like adoptive parents who shouldn’t get to reject a child because it looks “too ethnic,” parents who use reproductive technology must think about the ethics of parenting. Even if the lab screwed up, it ain’t a car you’re buying. And if you really want to be sure where that sperm comes from, have it deposited directly from the original tube.

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