I wanted a baby and I got one. In November of 2006, my mother gave birth to a calm baby boy named J. Three months later, she unexpectedly died and I became this baby's mother. Now, my wife and I are parenting our son the best way we know how. J has grown into a precocious child with dark brown eyes and light brown hair. He is talkative, he is stubborn, he is active, he is ours. Next month he will be 8 years old and for his birthday he would like a baby brother (or sister).
My wife and I, both 32 years old, are lesbians not only navigating the world of our non-traditional reality but of sperm banks. Honestly, we thought it would be really easy for me to get pregnant, especially because I've wanted it my entire life. But it's not been easy. Or as easy as we would have liked. I have faced quite a few medical challenges which have all now (after two years of trying) seemed to have cleared up, we hope paving the way for a successful pregnancy and birth.
What has been easy? Acquiring sperm from the sperm bank and choosing our donor. My wife is Sri Lankan and, as most couples want a baby who resembles them, we looked for Sri Lankan sperm only. I am African American, so this would be easy right? It was. How many Sri Lankan men donate their sperm? The answer... two! At least, two at the sperm bank we decided to use. When we began our discussion about getting pregnant we utilized blogs and friends and friends of friends to ask every question imaginable about sperm banks and conception. They all were eager to give us advice, some of it refreshing ("You'll do great... the medicine protocol is not fun but once you get pregnant it'll all be worth it.") while others' advice not so much ("We've tried eight IVF cycles and we didn't get pregnant until the ninth try and then we lost the baby.").
Eventually, we stopped reading blogs and stopped asking for advice. When it was time, we called up the sperm bank in December 2012 and ordered our very expensive vial of sperm. I never thought, not for one moment, that we would receive the wrong vial of sperm. We pushed forward and onto our first IVF attempt and it failed. The roller coaster ride of getting to the point of retrieving as many eggs as one could, to the transfer of two eggs back into one's uterus and then waiting two weeks to see if the pregnancy test is positive (or negative) can quickly become unbearable and requires the strength of both partners.
So, my wife, who stuck me daily with needles to increase my egg follicles during our first round of IVF, and I, are questioning if J will (or needs) a sibling. Moreover, we are questioning if we are up for this bumpy ride again. Since it's something I've always wanted, and yearn to feel the flutters of our baby, our child in my womb, we will try again; that is, once the dust settles from our first attempt. With no eggs left to freeze, we will need to start again. Our insurance will only pay for one more IVF cycle, so our next time will be our last time.
When I heard of the Ohio mother suing the sperm bank because she received the wrong sperm and got pregnant, I first thought "So what, you have a healthy child that is yours." And then, after the shock of hearing "white mom" "black sperm donor" over and over on television and on the radio, I wondered how I would feel, how we would feel if we got the wrong sperm.
One month before news of this story broke, my wife and I hung up the phone with our cryo-bank, ordered another vial of our donor sperm and are currently waiting for the right time to try again. What if the sperm waiting at our doctor's office for us isn't what we anticipate? Would we be mad? Yes.
Why? My wife is South Asian and I am African American. What if we received the sperm of a white donor, conceived and birthed a mixed child? It would indeed be a different mix than we anticipated but we would have a child in our arms whom we would grow to love during those nine months inside my womb.
Would we sue the cryo-bank? Yes. Just as Jennifer and Amanda are, it's about the act of the mistake having occurred. The emotional time and energy which go into finding the right donor weighs heavy on those going through the process. Once you finally find someone you and your wife agree upon, you feel relieved, almost euphoric. You save money because the insurance company does not pay for the sperm (and some not even for the IVF cycle), you buy the sperm and receive the news you have the wrong order after spending $1,000 on one vial of sperm... when you need two vials!
We would be mad, yes. Like Jennifer and Amanda, would we give up our child? No. We would love him or her because we've wanted, longed for, our second child.
It is not a black or white issue, it is a fundamental mistake by the sperm bank they chose. The fact is the mothers are two white women. They chose someone who resembled them, represented their ethnic background and someone who they were comfortable choosing as the donor, a healthy individual who was genetically compatible and brought sperm to conceive a child. There is nothing wrong about them doing so.
Likewise, we chose a donor who resembles our background. We would offer the child chicken curry, yes! I would spend hours adding "Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner" to his/her curly hair hoping to detangle it and style it. We would move forward as his/her parents and incorporate him/her into our culture, like Jennifer and Amanda's daughter. Would our child feel out of place in our household? Possibly.
It is not a black or white issue. It is an issue of some representative making a costly mistake. I can't help but ask the question, if the vial waiting for us at our doctor's office is not the right one, if the vial is that of an African American donor (we chose a South Asian donor), would our lawsuit get as much media attention?
Because in the end, we would sue too.