An Ohio mom and her same-sex partner are suing a Chicago-area fertility clinic for sending sperm from a black donor instead of the white donor’s sperm that she ordered.
Thirty-six-year-old Jennifer Cramblett of Uniontown, Ohio, said that, as a lesbian, she knows what discrimination feels like. She doesn’t want her mixed-race daughter, Payton, to feel the same pain because of the color of her skin.
According to court documents, the 2-year-old girl is already facing racial prejudice in Uniontown, a community of 3,300 people — 97 percent of whom are white.
The lawsuit was filed Monday against Midwest Sperm Bank for wrongful birth and breach of warranty, citing emotional and economic damage.
After poring over pages of donor histories from Midwest Sperm Bank three years ago, Cramblett and her partner, 29-year-old Amanda Zinkon, selected donor No. 380, who was white. Cramblett used the sperm to get pregnant and, months later, the two decided to reserve more sperm from that donor so Zinkon could one day have a child related to the one Cramblett was carrying.
During that process, the couple learned the truth: An employee at the fertility clinic allegedly misread a handwritten order — and Cramblett had been inseminated by donor No. 330, who was black.
“How could they make a mistake that was so personal?” Cramblett told the Associated Press.
The clinic allegedly sent an apology letter and a refund for the wrong batch.
Midwest Sperm Bank’s attorney declined comment to the Chicago Tribune.
“Jennifer was crying, confused and upset,” according to the court papers. “All of the thought, care and planning that she and Amanda had undertaken to control their baby’s parentage had been rendered meaningless. In an instant, Jennifer’s excitement and anticipation of her pregnancy was replaced with anger, disappointment and fear.”
Cramlett’s attorney, Thomas Intili, told NBC News his client “did not encounter any African-American people until she entered college. Not all her friends and family members are racially sensitive.”
The couple reportedly moved from Akron, Ohio, to Uniontown to be near better schools and Cramblett’s family. Now therapists are advising them to move to a more racially diverse community, the lawsuit stated.
One issue cited in the lawsuit is hair care.
“Getting a young daughter’s hair cut is not particularly stressful for most mothers, but to Jennifer it is not a routine matter, because Payton has hair typical of an African American girl,” it said. “To get a decent cut, Jennifer must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome.”
“I don’t want her to ever feel like she’s an outcast,” Cramblett told NBC News.
Cramblett said she is taking action to prevent the sperm bank from making the same mistake with someone else. The lawsuit alleges the mishap was a result of the clinic’s handwritten record-keeping system.
Though, according to Midwest Sperm Bank’s Web site, the clinic maintains “the highest standards of quality control and assurance.”
“I am happy that I have a healthy child,” Cramblett told NBC News. “But I’m not going to let them get away with not being held accountable.”
The lawsuit seeks a minimum of $50,000 in damages.