What to do? What to do? Jennifer Cramblett is suing a Chicago sperm bank for wrongful birth because a lab mix-up produced a baby of the wrong color — black.
The Uniontown, Ohio, resident who lives with her lesbian partner Amanda Zinkon and biracial daughter Payton, two, also alleges breach of warranty in the suit filed this week in the Circuit Court of Cook County, which has the largest population of black folks in America, by the way. (This population is what probably explains the creature that is Barack Obama, but that’s another story.)
During her pregnancy, Cramblett found out what she thought was sperm from donor vial No. 380, a white guy, actually came from donor No. 330, a black dude. So now this lesbian couple living what until very recently was widely considered a nontraditional lifestyle is clutching their chests over the prospect of having to raise a black girl, though they report having “bonded with Payton easily.”
It’s just that the neighbors are a problem. And the family.
“Family members, one uncle in particular, speak openly and derisively about persons of color. [Cramblett] did not know African-Americans until her college days at the University of Akron,” the suit says.
“Because of this background and upbringing, Jennifer acknowledges her limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans, and steep learning curve, particularly in small, homogenous Uniontown, which she regards as too racially intolerant.”
This suit, these women, America’s un-evolved racial attitudes present some problems, so let me start here:
The couple questions their “cultural competence” to raise a black child given their limited experience with black folks. Not enough white parents involved in what’s called transracial adoption question their competency in these matters. “Love will conquer all,” they say, until the first time they’re perplexed by the inability to get a comb through their little black girl’s hair, then cut her “bangs” that shrivel up into a curious forehead afro. Mark that No. 1 on things to discuss with the therapist when that little girl grows up.
As white women, they’re certainly typical. Most white people don’t have any black friends, as we know from a recent Public Religion Research Institute study showing three-quarters of white Americans don’t have any non-white pals. It’s so easy to pretend America’s racial problems (think: #jordandavis #ferguson) don’t exist until they populate your Twitter feed.
The couple also say they live in what they consider a racially insensitive town that might give the child hell one day. Yup, that could happen. Just ask Trayvon Martin. Oh, we can’t.
They didn’t ask for their lives to be turned into a giant social experiment. Yes, the sperm bank messed up big time, and they should take the hit for it. Whatever money this family receives could be used for Payton’s education or to provide enrichment opportunities of the culturally enriching kind so she just grows up happy and well rounded regardless of her skin color. I hope she doesn’t grow up hating herself or other black people because that happens, you know.
They’re gay, so they’re already a social experiment (meaning, homosexuality is only now being accepted as a norm in mainstream society). Gay marriage may soon one day be the law of the land, but the fact that it’s a fight proves the point.
They’re women living in what author Tara Mohr calls a “transitional historical moment.” On one hand, women have more freedom and opportunity than ever, thanks to everything from the first-wave feminism of 1848 Seneca Falls to the success of the 50-year-old Civil Rights Act of 1964, largely thought to be aimed at minorities like Payton. This law is totally responsible for breaking open workplace doors for women, mostly white ones. The very nature of being a woman is a social experiment.
Both women say they were sexually abused as girls, so when “you think of sperm, you think of sexual encounters and neither of us wanted to think of males in our lives again,” according to the suit. In other words, the fact that the baby came out in a way they didn’t plan underscored the lack of control they have felt over their own bodies.
These are strong women for surviving sexual abuse and carefully planning to have children who would be blood relatives by virtue of being inseminated by the same sperm. But did they consider the fact they could have had a boy?
The genetic engineering (and entitlement) tendencies of these women is nauseating. So what, life didn’t turn out the way they planned. Look at employment stats, housing numbers, the failure of public education and mass incarceration — that’s black life, baby.
And what? They don’t know any black lesbians? With children?
Each woman seeks an undetermined amount that exceeds $50,000 in damages. Because they certainly are — damaged.
Deborah Douglas is a journalist living in Chicago.