Citizenship Not Easy for In Vitro Babies

Children adopted overseas are given the right to U.S. citizenship. Children who are born to U.S. citizens outside of the United States also usually don’t have any problem securing citizenship. However, babies who are born through in vitro fertilization from donor eggs and sperm do not have this same flexibility.

According to a recent article in USA Today, native Chicagoan Ellie Lavi was denied citizenship for her two twin daughters. Currently living in Tel Aviv, Lavi will be unable to give either of her children citizenship unless she can confirm that the egg or sperm donor is a U.S. citizen. Due to confidentiality laws, this has – and will continue to – prove difficult for Lavi.

Although this regulation has long stood, the great influx in people having children later in life and needing assistance in creating a baby has transformed this issue into a worldwide problem. According to the Center for Surrogate Parenting, one German couple has been working to get their child’s German citizenship for two years. The child was conceived by way of test tube and birthed by a surrogate parent in India.

However, laws around the world continue to contest that biological links need to exist for citizenship to be “passed down,” so to speak, to children born outside of the United States.

According to Melissa Brisman, a fertility law expert in New Jersey who recently spoke with USA Today, these laws were originally put in place to “prevent the abuse of American citizenship laws.”

“[The laws are] also hurting infertile Americans who simply want to pass on their citizenship to their kids,” she said. “The problem is that the law hasn’t kept up with the advances in reproductive technology.”