Not What You Ordered: On Race and The Sperm Bank

thawing sperm


Sometimes we don’t get what we pay for. When it’s a sperm bank that makes the mistake, it’s a pretty big problem, to say the least. We too conceived with the use of frozen sperm from a sperm bank. I don’t really know what we would’ve done if they had given us the wrong donor, but if we chose a white donor (we did) and they gave us sperm from a Black donor, I know we wouldn’t sue the sperm bank for wrongful birth and emotional damages because the child conceived is Black.

The Ohio lesbians’ lawsuit against the sperm bank is partially about the mistake, but mostly about how hard it is for them as white parents to raise a Black child.

Except that white parents raise Black children all the time. Black parents raise Black children all the time. Black children are raised in all-white communities all the time.

And the truth is, it’s hard to grow up Black in America. They just didn’t know that until that hardship existed in their own family.

I agree with them that race should be on the table here. Because of the role race plays in this case and in our country, this lawsuit shouldn’t exist. This case teaches the child she is an accident. And she is Black by accident. And her color is a problem for her family and her community. This is not an issue of wrongful birth. This is an issue of racism. And racism is a problem for all of us.

This isn’t how we are supposed to raise our children.

Do sperm banks make mistakes? Unfortunately, yes. The sperm bank is certainly not without fault here. But as parents, it’s our responsibility to put the best interests of our children first. Just because the sperm bank is wrong, doesn’t mean these parents are right to pursue this as the harm to this child is too great. Not as a Black person, but as a child considered a “wrongful birth” because of her color.

“Her issues are those that every parent of a non-white child has to deal with, regardless of the race of the parent. Diverse communities, good schools, racial antipathy from others, that’s just the world of raising a non-white baby… Cramblett is suing because the sperm bank turned her into a black person. They made her have to think and worry and stress like any other parent of a non-white child.” From

“She’s a white woman who had a Black baby and she simply cannot fathom dealing with what it means to, in essence, be a Black mom, having to navigate and negotiate a racist world on behalf of a human she bore, in an environment of which she is a product.” From

“If she chose a particular sperm donor, that’s who she should’ve gotten. After all, Cramblett was a paying customer. But that aspect has clearly become jumbled up with a white couple’s inability to cope with blackness, even within their own family. This confusion reveals a sad truth many blacks have known for generations, and one that their child will unfortunately learn when she gets older — that white people almost never have to seriously interrogate how white privilege and institutional racism make many social spaces violently unsafe for black people. Until that is, they’re forced to confront their privilege by circumstances out of their control.” From


We need to start doing better than this as a society. We need to stop defending people who think it’s perfectly okay to file a “wrongful birth” suit with emotional damages because their daughter is Black. That is not okay. That will never be okay.

Author: Casey

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