Born black as a result of a sperm bank mixup.

I have been debating whether or not to discuss the now infamous sperm bank mixup here on Afroviolet, but I realize it must be discussed. It must be discussed on as many platforms as possible. If you have not heard of this yet, I’ll give you a bit of a summary.

A white lesbian couple from Ohio decided to start a family by using a sperm bank. They carefully chose the sperm donor through a profile provided by the sperm bank. The donor they chose was a white man with blonde hair and blue eyes,

Photo Credits listed Clockwise: "Oromo Child, Sof Omer" by Rod Waddington. CC4.0, "Daughter in the Sun" by Jonathan Kos-Read. CC4.0, "after pool" by Victor Bezrukov. CC4.0, "emmaculate" by Greg Westfall. CC4.0, "Girl, Afghanistan" by Afghanistan Matters. CC4.0, and "Red Head" by Bob Jagendorf. CC4.0
Photo Credits listed Clockwise: “Oromo Child, Sof Omer” by Rod Waddington. CC4.0, “Daughter in the Sun” by Jonathan Kos-Read. CC4.0, “after pool” by Victor Bezrukov. CC4.0, “emmaculate” by Greg Westfall. CC4.0, “Girl, Afghanistan” by Afghanistan Matters. CC4.0, and “Red Head” by Bob Jagendorf. CC4.0

the same as one of the future mothers. The couple was successfully inseminated. They were so happy with the prospect of their future family that they started making plans for a second insemination using the same sperm donor. This was when the sperm bank discovered that the sperm used for the couple’s current pregnancy came from the wrong donor. In fact, the biological father of the unborn child was a black man.

The child is now two years old. However, the couple has decided to proceed with a lawsuit against the sperm bank. The couple explained that they live in a town that is mostly white. They are unable to style their child’s hair and must drive to a far away location in order to have the girl’s hair cut. They disclosed that even their own family members have prejudices against people with darker skin. The couple has decided that in order for their child to grow up in an environment where she can see people who look like her they must move to a more demographically diverse area. To this couple all of these things are hardships and they feel that they must be compensated for it. There is no question that the sperm bank made a mistake, a very big mistake. The sperm bank apologized and refunded the cost of the vials of sperm used for the insemination. This does not cut it, but lets face it, the ‘damage’ has been done.

Typically, when one has sexual intercourse with the intent of pregnancy it goes without saying that the child will inherit genetic material from both of the people performing the act. There is no guarantee, however, that the apparent physical characteristics of the procreating couple will accurately represent the content of the genetic material being passed to the offspring. This was the case of Sandra Laing. Blogger Julian Abagond recounts Laing’s story in his blog.

Sandra Laing (1955- ) was a black girl born to white Afrikaner parents in South Africa back in the days of white rule and apartheid, of keeping the races apart.It seems that her white father was her true father: blood tests showed that his blood matched hers. Sandra also looked too much like her brother Adriaan, who was white. Although Sandra’s great grandparents were all white, someone in her family tree must have been passing for white, probably several people on both sides. Their genes came together in her. Most white Afrikaners are only about 89% white by blood. (Author: Julian Abagond. See the full article here

The sperm bank had a responsibility to release the correct vial to the correct customer. However, even if the sperm bank had used the correct vial of sperm there was still a chance that the child would not have been born with the desired physical traits. There was still a chance that the child would not have been born completely white.

When one decides to become a parent there is a level of risk involved. There is no guarantee that the resultant child will be born free of mental or physical disabilities. In the event that a child is born with a severe disability there are many adjustments that the family will have to make in order to properly care for that child. This could include educating the community to create more awareness, compassion, and acceptance towards the child’s condition. This could also mean moving to an area that can provide the assistance necessary for the care of that child. Although no one would want to go through any of these adjustments, it comes with the territory of parenting.

As this child gets older and inevitably comes across the extensive media coverage on this public dispute lets hope that the psychological and emotional ramifications are minimal, but that may be too much to ask. If the parents win the lawsuit they may be compensated and perhaps issued another apology by the sperm bank, but they will not be able to magically convert their daughter into a blonde haired blue-eyed child. This begs the question, is all of this worth the potential negative effects that this dispute can have on the little girl? This is something that the parents should have carefully considered, but clearly they may not have pondered it thoroughly enough.

Parents should love their children unconditionally. So unconditionally that they are happy to provide the child with anything he or she needs to grow up in a healthy, loving environment. Race should never be a factor. There may be some obstacles. For instance, the girl’s mother may feel unable to do the girl’s hair. That is understandable, but the fact is a white woman can do a black girl’s hair, it is simply a matter of whether the woman wants to learn or not. Rory Mullen’s case is a great example of this. She adopted not a biracial, but a black girl and learned to do the girl’s hair in many beautiful styles. ( Honestly, the fact that the child’s race is different from your own may be difficult, but these difficulties are due to an environment that is not accepting of that child’s race. Quite frankly, this sort of environment is not suitable for any child of any race to grow up in.


5 thoughts on “Born black as a result of a sperm bank mixup.

    1. Thank you for reading Thom! Although it is rather unfortunate what this family is going through at the moment, the situation can certainly be used as a learning tool. I have barely even scratched the surface of this topic and I hope that many more discussions ensue.


  1. I would only add that, given the extreme cases of “sue-happy” to be found in the US, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the couple doesn’t love their child unconditionally with all their hearts. They may just be taking advantage of the fact that they *can* sue for this kind of thing. (maybe even at the prompting of an over-zealous litigator who stands to make a good penny on the case as well.)

    At least, that’s what I’d like to believe…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your suggestion may very well be the case. Even if this couple is in fact “sue-happy” I wonder if, to this couple, the possibility of winning money is worth the chance that their daughter may be emotionally damaged by it all.


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